Alabama doesn’t have a large coastline, but the 32 miles of white sand and blue water south of Mobile are spectacular.
They offer fantastic seascapes, rich wildlife in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, a laid-back atmosphere on Dauphin Island, and a lot of family-friendly action in lively places such as the beaches of Gulf Shores.
1. Orange Beach, Alabama
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Located on Alabama's Gulf Coast, Orange Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on this stretch of the coast.
It has miles of powdered-sugar sand beaches that are not only great for stretching out in the sun, but also offer the opportunity to watch sea turtles lay eggs from May to October.
From the beach, there is access to the bayous and bays north of Perdido Pass. Visitors who need a bit more action can join a fishing charter, take a dolphin watching tour, play golf, or enjoy birdwatching on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail.
2. Cotton Bayou Beach, Alabama
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This nice small beach area is snuggled among some very popular condominiums, at the intersection of Highways 182 and 161, a perfect place for all sorts of activities or just relaxing and people watching.
The beach is close to the parking lot and it has all the essential amenities, such as restrooms and outdoor showers.
This beautiful white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico can get crowded at times, so come early to find a nice spot.
The shallow water is perfect for the kids, although dogs are not allowed. The beach is a very popular spot for wedding pictures.
26026 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 36561
3. Dauphin Island Beach, Alabama
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Dauphin Island is a small barrier island on the Alabama coast on the Gulf of Mexico and is known as a perfect family holiday destination.
Quiet and peaceful, the island’s entire west end consists of miles of powder-fine white sand.
The long and narrow beaches are perfect for strolling along the surf, making sand castles, or simply cooling down in the water.
Along the beaches visitors will find lovely parks shaded with ancient oaks in addition to public golf courses.
It is the only pet-friendly beach in the entire area. The off-shore fishing is also great.
There is another public beach on the west end of the town of Dauphin Island, known for regular summer live music concerts.
1501 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
4. Best Alabama Beaches: Fairhope
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Fairhope is a small, bohemian town located on the shore of Mobile Bay, on the bank of a large estuary that connects with the Gulf of Mexico.
Surprisingly, in spite of its location on the brackish waters of the estuary, the town has a few small yet lovely beaches.
One of these is located north of the popular pier and just behind the beach on a high bluff there is a nice grassy area that is perfect for picnics, with wonderful views of the ocean and large trees that provide shade.
The area has a lovely breeze that cools hot skin on a summer’s day, but the waves are always moderate and kids love it.
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5. Florida Point Beach, Alabama
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Located only 3 miles from Perdido Pass Bridge in the town of Orange Beach, Alabama, Florida Point Beach is a lovely 6,000-foot-long stretch of fine white sand that runs along the turquoise waters of Florida Point.
There is a popular boardwalk along the beach as well as several picnic areas and a few outdoor showers.
The beach is very popular, so if you want to find a more secluded and private spot on the sand, take a little longer stroll among the dunes and you might find a perfect place just for you. Parking at the beach access is free. Enjoy your day trip to Florida Point Beach.
Orange Beach, AL 36561
6. Fort Morgan Beach, AL
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The Fort Morgan Peninsula sticks like a finger west from the Gulf Shores and is perfect for those trying to spend some time on the beach away from the more popular spots full of beach bars and souvenir shops.
A large section of the peninsula is located within a protected wildlife refuge, and its beachfront is about an hour’s drive to any store, but the privacy it affords is well worth the isolation.
The beaches are pristine, covered with fine white sand, and are free to access. Finding them can be little tricky and most are part of private hotel accommodation.
Two public beach access points are within the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, 1.5 miles after the visitors center.
There is an unnamed public beach access at the end of the peninsula, outside the Fort Morgan State Historic Site, Alabama.
7. Gulf Shores Main Beach, AL
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White sand beaches and clear turquoise waters attract thousands of people to Gulf Shores on the Alabama coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
Swimming, sunbathing, boarding, and walking along the surf are just some of the activities you can choose here, and there are 32 miles of breathtakingly beautiful beaches to choose from.
The sand on the beaches is made almost completely from quartz that came down from the Appalachian Mountains thousands of years ago.
The sand is soft and cool underfoot and it makes funny squeaking sounds when walked on. There is a lot of action on the beach, from volleyball games to nice little beach bars.
W Gulf Pl, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
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8. Alabama Beaches: Gulf State Park
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Gulf State Park has over 3 miles of wonderful fine sand beaches, perfect for relaxing in the sun, cooling off in the surf, listening to the sea gulls, or collecting sea shells.
Some beaches are located in the town of Gulf Shores, near a charming pavilion.
Another beach access point in the park is at Orange Beach.
The park’s beaches are popular for surf fishing, kayaking, or just relaxing on the sand, and park staff offer a schedule of fun activities every summer, such as geocaching, guided nature walks, and stargazing.
The park has 20 cabins and 11 lakeside cottages next to the golf course, a short drive from the beach.
20115 State Highway 135, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
9. Best Beaches in Alabama: Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
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The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge spreads over 7,157-acre on the scenic Fort Morgan Peninsula west of Alabama Gulf Shores.
The refuge provides protected feeding and resting areas for a range of migratory birds and is a sanctuary for diverse local native plants and animals.
It is one of the biggest undeveloped stretches of land on the coast of Alabama. The refuge is divided into Perdue, Sand Bayou, Fort Morgan, Little Point Clear, and Little Dauphin Island.
The refuge protects a range of habitats, among them beaches, scrub forest, sand dunes, freshwater swamps, salt and freshwater marshes, and uplands.
Some of the endangered species that live in the refuge are the Alabama beach mouse and sea turtles – green, loggerhead, and Kemp's ridley.
12295 Alabama 180, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
10. West Beach, Alabama
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Not far from the popular and noisy beaches of Gulf Shores, the beaches in West Beach are less touristy and more quiet and relaxed.
On one side they are lined with luxury condos, private homes, hotels, and restaurants, while on the other lie the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Miles of fine white sandy beaches are open to the public.
Located on the Fort Morgan Peninsula, which stretches all the way to Mobile Bay, the beach in West Beach is separated from the bay by a small lake named Little Lagoon.
The Fort Morgan Peninsula is home to the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, a large habitat that provides a home to endangered sea turtles, the Alabama beach mouse, and migrating birds.
West Beach Blvd, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
11. Alabama Beaches: Robinson Island
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Robinson Island is a protected island in the intracoastal waterways of Orange Beach, Alabama.
It has become a very popular recreational “park” for sun seekers and boating enthusiasts.
The island was bought by the State of Alabama in 2003 to prevent it from development and to provide a sanctuary for the many bird species which come here to breed.
Consequently, much of the island is off-limits to humans. However, that does not stop the boating fraternity from spending many happy hours in the shallows.
If you do not have your own boat you can rent one at the Hudson Marina in Orange Beach.
Robinson Island, Orange Island, AL 36561-4359
What are the 11 Best Alabama Beaches?
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More Ideas in Alabama: Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium
The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium provides an educational and exciting aquarium experience for visitors and locals alike. The public aquarium focuses on Alabama's four key coastal ecosystems: the northern Gulf of Mexico, the barrier islands, Mobile Bay, and the Mobile Tensaw River Delta. In addition to its exhibit hall, which spans 10,000 square feet, the aquarium includes the Living Marsh Boardwalk and a stingray touch pool containing 7,000 gallons of water. The Estuarium is part of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab's Discovery Hall educational program.
Overall, the Estuarium consists of 31 aquariums with over 100 species on display within more than 30,000 gallons of water. The facility showcases the animals, plants, and other natural resources native to the Estuary and the surrounding marine habitats. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium leaves visitors with a better understanding of the interactions that occur in Mobile Bay, the country's fourth largest estuary system, through interactive exhibits and stunning visual exhibits.
The exhibit at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium focusing on the northern Gulf of Mexico contains a variety of displays of marine communities. These displays feature jellyfish, sharks, red snappers, seahorses, eels, lobsters, and octopus. The Barrier Islands exhibit showcases saltwater species often seen on or around the barrier islands of Alabama, such as hermit crabs, blue crabs, and shrimp. A representation of the Middle Bay Lighthouse's legs is featured in the Mobile Bay exhibit. The replica is home to species native to Mobile Bay's brackish water, including flounder, spadefish, oysters, blue crabs, horseshoe crabs, and stone crabs.
The largest wetland in Alabama is recreated in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta exhibit. The displays feature multiple species in its aquariums, including gar, turtles, and the American alligator. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium's newest exhibit, Rays of the Bay, made its debut in 2013. This 6,400-gallon touch tank features six sets of four different species of skates and rays indigenous to Mobile Bay and the northern Gulf of Mexico. Species found within the giant touch tank include the Atlantic stingray, the cownose ray, and the southern stingray.
A number of public events are also provided by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium. One of the public programs offered at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium is its Boardwalk Talk series. This free program occurs late in the morning on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. These talks include a chat with experts at the Estuarium, including aquarists, researchers, technicians, educators, post docs, and graduate students. The informal chats cover a wide array of science topics, such as sea level change, climate change, hypoxia, oyster reefs, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, salt marshes, sharks, and habitat restoration.
Another program provided by the Estuarium is the Summer Excursion program. This summer experience takes visitors into the habitats at the Estuarium that are the focus of study by the facility's students, researchers, and marine scientists. Each summer excursion investigates a different type of habitat, and they are offered on select dates during the summer months.
101 Bienville Boulevard, Dauphin Island, AL 36528, Phone: 251-861-4646
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