Life’s a beach – finally! Dauphin Island, AL

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From the Sonoran Desert, to the plains of Texas, to the swamps of Louisiana to an island in Alabama!  Yeah!  We have been longing for white sand, sunny days and a long stretch of pristine beach.  One fine place we found all of it was Dauphin Island, Alabama. Following other RVers travels usually gives us great ideas for places to stay and explore along our upcoming path.  One of them is of course Wheeling it, who consistently point us to interesting locations like this island, which we had never heard of prior to reading their blog.

Dauphin Island is a barrier island located three miles south of the mouth of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico.  There are two ways to get here.  From the west, entry to the island is made by crossing a 3-mile long high rise bridge.

West Entrance to Dauphin Island

From the east  you can access via the Mobile Bay Ferry.  At this time RV’s are not allowed on the ferry because they are running only one boat; be sure to check with the ferry service if you wish to take your RV across in either direction.

Mobile Bay Ferry

The island is approximately 14 miles long and 1 ¾ miles wide at the widest point.  The 14 miles must include the attached stretch of Pelican Island that extends off the main island for several sandy miles, since we measured the main island at only 8 miles end-to-end.  At the east end you will find the Dauphin Island Campground, the Mobile Bay Ferry and Historic Ft. Gaines.

At the west end is several miles of privately owned and partially developed land.  It is estimated that 1300 permanent residents call Dauphin Island home, and we saw how that number soars as the weather warms up.  Vacation homes dot the coastline, with several either under repair or rebuild due to the nasty storms that often go through here.  Below are a few examples if you are interested, and we saw several rentals available too.

The entire island has been designated as a bird sanctuary.  There are two places you can view and enjoy the birds.  Birders take note: spring is almost here and pretty soon the island will be swarming with birds!  At the Audubon Sanctuary there are six trails which guide viewers about what species to expect on each trail.

At Indian Shell Mound Park there are benches everywhere to observe our feathered friends.

Other smaller areas or parks are set up for bird viewing or listening.

The pristine white beaches that stretch along the island are excellent places to take long walks as you view the sunsets and the shorebirds.  There is also a nice, wide paved bike trail running the length of the island.  This is one of the few stops where we have been walking AND biking almost every day.  Paradise!

We noticed that wherever folks were fishing there were almost always one or more Great Herons nearby to “guard” the Catch of the Day.

Dauphin Island Beach

Of course, I was just hooked on birds as usual…

and finally the beach sunsets of Dauphin Island.

Dauphin Island Sunset

Dauphin Island Sunset

Up next where we stayed and Historic Ft Gaines.

38 thoughts on “Life’s a beach – finally! Dauphin Island, AL

  1. Dauphin Island was 14 miles long before Katrina. After Katrina, on the far west end of the island (past the road), the island was split – we call it Katrina Cut. The far west end Beach is about 2 miles, and then the cut, and then another 4-5 miles of beach there. Thanks for seeing the beauty of our home!

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    • We stayed at a Pelican Nest RV Resort, a small park with only 12 sites. Funny you asked about the Estuarium, that is the only place we did not go, I was so concentrated on the bird trails.

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      • You will just have to come back to visit the most unique attraction in the area. The Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is not to be missed! March 16 marked the opening of the Rays of the Bay tank which is outdoors, geothermically heated, funded by LuLu’s Homeport at Gulf Shores. Lucy Buffet cut the ribbon on the new exhibit which holds cow-nose rays, southern and atlantic sting rays, horseshoe crabs in the touch tank. The Estuarium was already an exciting place to be with exhibits arranged from the top of Moile Bay (the delta) through the bay to the barrier islands and into the Gulf of Mexico!

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        • Aargh, I should have gone there for i passed there like four times and just drove past by it. Now this is indeed a good reason to come back, and we love Dauphin Island.

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  2. Can’t beat the AL panhandle area….best beaches ever! Looks like you hit it at the right time…enjoy that luscious white sand!

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    • You got that right. The crowd is not here yet so we have the beach almost to ourselves. Beautiful days, warm and sunny. Yeah!

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  3. Lovely … lovely … those sunsets remind us of the ones we enjoyed at Fort Pickens in January. Will have to at least do a day trip out to Dauphin when we move east from NOLA.

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  4. Oh boy! Now that’s a place for the birds! Good timing! I look forward to seeing more of your bird photos, ML!

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    • Maureen, I went there three times yet the migrants have not arrived. The resident birds are a plenty however.

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  5. What a beautiful area! We’ll be retiring in June and are looking at which way to go first. I just told my husband a few days ago that I’d like to spend some time in Alabama and that area. Now this location is on the “must go there” list! Great pictures!! The sunsets are beautiful shots! We also follow Wheeling It. They’ve also given us ideas of places to go. Safe travels.
    Susan

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    • Other bloggers do give us lots of ideas of places to go. Thank you and glad you enjoyed the beach scene.

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  6. Amazing! Love the shot of that long stretch of white sand beach. My kind of place for sure! We are planning to travel the gulf coast this fall and will definitely put Dauphin Island on the list of places to visit.

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    • Fall could be a good time too especially if you like birds as they will stop here on their way to the south.

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  7. Wow……looks like a very relaxing place to spend some time. Can’t wait to read where you decided to stay. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. So, so happy you made it here! We so enjoyed our stay and long to go back. Those last 2 sunset shots are amazing!
    Nina

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    • Thank you Nina, coming from you I take it as a compliment. And yes we are so enjoying our stay even if we were unable to stay at the Dauphin Island Campground.

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  9. I had not heard of this little gem until reading your post. Since we are going to be spending some time in Ohio helping Terry’s folks very soon, we anticipate taking trips to the southeast and east coast. This will definitely have to be on the list. Thanks and enjoy the beach! 🙂

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    • If you like beach and ocean breeze, this is the place to hang out. I have a feeling this place will be packed by summer.

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      • I have not spent any time in the southeast and am looking forward to exploring it. Thanks for sharing this with us! 🙂

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  10. What a beautiful spot! Looks like the crowds are down for sure. You timed it perfectly since I believe it has been cool in that area for a while.

    Travel safely to your next stop!

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    • We were lucky, only a few tourist at this time of the year. we felt like we had the beach to ourselves.

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  11. Outstanding! We have been through the area but never stayed. Sounds like you are in for some great birding – can’t wait for more pictures. While we did not see the Elegant Trogon at Patagonia we did add a couple new birds to our life list.

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    • Thank you. What year were you in the area? I tried to go through your blog also to check out places going northeast.

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  12. WOW! Beautiful, and the pictures are outstanding. Are you staying at a state park? Boondocking? Definitely on our list of places to visit….beautiful!

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    • Thank you. Unfortunately there are no boondocking here that I know of. The island is really small.

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