While dolphins are often spotted in and around this barrier island off Mobile Bay, Dauphin Island is actually named for the first born son of the King of France, a reminder that nearby Mobile was once the capital of colonial French Louisiana. However, we prefer to think of the playful mammals that can be seen swimming as you cross the ferry over to Fort Morgan. South of Mobile by about 45 minutes, Dauphin Island offers a laid back and much less touristy access to the Alabama beaches than it’s Eastern neighbors of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The island is as much a sanctuary for the tired birds who migrate across the Gulf, seeking shelter as it is for vacationers seeking peace and the perfect sunset. The West end of the island boast sugar sands and sunsets while the Eastern end has pine forest stands and historical remembrances of it’s attraction as both a defense against intruders and a fishing destination for prehistoric Mississippian Mound Building Cultures. Once a location of pirate plunders and way-station for ocean-crossing vessels, today the island beckons those who appreciate the gentle waves and blue skies of the Gulf Coast.
As you cross the 2-lane Gordon Persons bridge across the bay, you’ll see the many beaches homes on the West End of the island, and boats to the East. There’s plenty to do, and here’s a guide to some of our favorite things to do on the island.
Things To Do
Action Outdoors Enjoy an eco-tour, sunset, lighthouse or dolphin tour on this 44′ boat in the waters around Dauphin Island.
Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary A 1/2 mile walking trail and boardwalk are the highlights of this nature preserve, which highlights both beach, swamp and coastal forest.
Dauphin Island East End Public Beach At the Eastern tip of the Island, the End End Public Beach is near the Estuarium, Fort Gaines, and the ferry.
Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium Tour this incredible aquarium, marsh boardwalk and stingray touch tank!
Dauphin Island West End Public Beach The more touristy beach, the West End offers snow cones and chair rentals. I prefer this beach, which has a small parking lot and when it fills up, you have to wait for someone to leave. At the tip of the island, you can choose from beach or bay side. There is 7 miles of beach. Here’s a tip, go minimalist and walk out past the crowds where the sand and water are just pristine. This is the best place to watch the sunset.
Fort Gaines Tour the preserved buildings and ruins of this 150 year old Fort, including cannons, tunnels and incredible views of the Gulf!
Indian Shell Mound Park Prehistoric cultures left large mounds of shells which are reminders of the local history, along with a unique ecosystem of non-native plants, brought to the region by these cultures hundreds of years ago for medicinal purposes from as far away as Mexico and the Appalachian Mountains!
Bayfront Park is a neat place to spend an afternoon fishing in the bay. There is also a wetlands boardwalk, and the area is a known location to birders.
Mobile Bay Ferry We absolutely love the ride to and from Gulf Shores on the Mobile Bay Ferry, and there’s always a great chance you’ll see dolphins!
Sand Island Lighthouse Tours Explore this historic decommissioned lighthouse. Entry to the island is FREE but requires a boat or tour.
The Dauphin Island Campground Year round campground for RV camping, and offers bike rentals, and a private beach.
Cedar Point Pier. Open 24 hours, this public pier offers fishing, equipment rentals and bait.
Dauphin Island, Alabama
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