15 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches on the Gulf Coast
The Gulf Coast is fortunate to have miles of wonderful sandy beaches washed by the warm Gulf waters and surrounded by dunes, fun communities, and all sorts of attractions. And in almost all the coastal towns there is at least a small portion of the beach reserved for our best four-legged friends, on a leash or free, to enjoy some splashing in the water or romping in the sand. Some are small, like Panama City Beach, while others, like Dauphin Island and Davis Island, offer miles of space with shade and water fountains so that the dogs and their humans can enjoy a day by the water. Photo: Lunja/Fotolia
»Ocean Springs Beach, MS
Ocean Springs is a small city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, an artist community known the world over for the famous painters and potters who make it their home. The city has two public beaches. Front Beach has white sand and shallow water and is located between Ocean Spring Harbor and the Ocean Springs-Biloxi Bay Bridge, offering fantastic views the whole way. East Beach is more popular with local residents and is dog-friendly, but the dogs have to be leashed. The water tends to be murky but is safe for swimming and has a number of piers. There is no shade and it can get really hot, so bring water for your dog.
Contact: Front Beach Dr, Ocean Springs, MS 39564
»Fort Morgan Beach, AL
The Fort Morgan Peninsula is a long, narrow piece of land on Alabama’s Gulf Shores with a beautiful white sandy beach that is often almost deserted. It offers privacy and serenity away from other, more popular Gulf Shore beaches with their loud bars and shops. Most of the peninsula belongs to a wildlife refuge and it can be difficult to access, but the fine sugar-white sand is well worth the trek. Most hotels and private accommodations have their own beach access and the two public entrances are within the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. You can enjoy this lovely beach and the views of the ocean with your pooch on a leash, but the area where dogs are permitted is limited to the stretch between the Old Fisherman’s Warf and the old Fort Morgan Pier.
Contact: Fort Morgan Rd, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Photo: Lacey Newman/Fotolia
»Hancock County Beaches, MS
Hancock County is fortunate to have a whole chain of wonderful sandy beaches between the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland. These are not the fine white sand beaches of other areas, but are wide, miles and miles long, sloping gradually into shallow water – just perfect for dogs to enjoy a cooling romp in the sea. All public beaches in Hancock County are dog-friendly, but the dogs have to be leashed and the owners have to clean up after them. The beaches are never crowded, and off-season can be virtually deserted, so dogs and their owners can enjoy a nice relaxed walk without running into kids’ sandcastles or picnic baskets.
Contact: 107 N Beach Blvd, Waveland, MS 39576, Phone: 228-255-3367
»Dauphin Island Beach, AL
One of the most beautiful islands in Alabama, Dauphin Island is famous as a low-cost family vacation destination and a wonderful natural spot to enjoy white sand beaches and the clear waters of the Gulf Coast. With miles of hiking trails, a bird sanctuary, and the Sea Lab’s aquarium, there is plenty to do for the whole family. Dauphin Island’s public beach is one of the very few dog-friendly beaches in the area, and dogs are allowed off-leash year round on the miles of white sand. The beach is located close to the old fishing pier and the entire area, a few miles long, is set aside for our four-legged friends. Besides the public beach, Sand Island, which is actually connected to Dauphin Island, offers another 3 miles of sand and surf for dogs to romp through.
Contact: 109 Bienville Blvd. Dauphin Island, AL 36528, Phone: 251-861-3607
»South Padre National Seashore, TX
The South Padre National Seashore is a spectacular world of white sandy beaches, ancient sand dunes, clear, calm surf, birds, hiking trails, wildlife, and views all around that will take your breath away. And if you are a dog owner, you can enjoy all that magnificent nature with your best friend. Located only 15 minutes from Corpus Christi, South Padre has 70 miles of beaches and a large part of this is accessible to dogs and their humans, off-leash. There are a few areas where they are not allowed, such as the boardwalk from the deck to the beach, the deck of Malaquite Pavilion, and a small stretch of beach in front of the pavilion that is reserved for kids. The entire area to the left of the beach entrance is free for pets to enjoy, run, play, splash, and have the time of their life.
Contact: Port Aransas Beach, TX
Photo: Sergey Filkin/Fotolia
»Port Aransas Beach, TX
Port Aransas beach on Mustang Island is a vacation paradise with 18 miles of fine sand splashed by the warm, clear water of the Gulf of Mexico. The beach is located on the other side of some large dunes that separate it from the small, quaint town of Port Aransas. You can drive your golf cart onto the beach, fish, hike, work on your tan, play beach volleyball, or take your best four-legged friend for a run or splash in the waves as long as they are on a leash. You can also take your pooch for a stroll along the 1,200-foot-long Horace Caldwell Pier, where you can throw a line and try to catch dinner. If you want to stay on the beach overnight, you will need a special permit.
Contact: Port Aransas, Mustang Island, TX 78373
»East Beach, TX
East Beach is Galveston Island’s Party Central. The long sandy beach is located at the far east of the island and offers fantastic facilities for summer fun. There is a pavilion, a kids’ playground, a boardwalk, an entertainment stage, showers, shops, barbecue pits, umbrella and chair rentals, and much more. Dogs are permitted everywhere on the beach as long as they are on a leash. There are lifeguards on duty during the season. The beach hosts a range of festivals, but the most famous is the AIA Sandcastle Competition held every June.
Contact: E Beach Dr, Galveston, TX 77550, Phone: 409-797-5111
Photo: ShyLama Productions/Fotolia
»Stewart Beach Park, TX
Stewart Beach is one of the two Galveston beaches where dogs are allowed on a leash. This wonderful family beach has miles of fine sand washed by soft, warm waves, perfect for you or your best four-legged friend to splash and cool off on hot summer days. The beach is located at the junction of historic Broadway Avenue and the Seawall. The beach does not allow alcohol and is primarily a family beach with a pavilion, beach volleyball nets, showers, concessions, and much more. If you want to let your dog off leash for a while, visit Galveston’s Lindale Dog Park on Marine Drive, on the island’s east end. The park is fully fenced and has benches and water stations.
Contact: 201 Seawall Blvd., 6th St. and Seawall Blvd., Galveston, TX 77550, Phone: 409-797-5189
»Panama City Beach, FL
With 27 miles of fine white sand splashed by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach is a charming northwest Florida coastal town that offers a perfect vacation destination. The city’s nature reserve, St. Andrews State Park, is located on the coast and offers well-maintained hiking trails and fishing off the fishing pier. If you travel with your four-legged best friend, you will be limited to a small patch of beach on the right side of the city pier on Front Beach Road. Even there, dogs have to be on a leash, and three dogs per person is the limit.
Contact: Panama City Beach, FL 32408, Phone: 850-624-3219
Pensacola’s Bayview Dog Park and Beach is one of the very few beaches on the Gulf Coast where dogs are allowed to be free and enjoy the water and sand. This 1-acre specious dog park on the inlet close to Bayou Texar is fun for the owners too, as it has nice covered shady area with benches and picnic tables. More picnic tables are scattered along the beach. The beach also has a clean-up station, showers for dogs and people, and water bowls for pooches. The park is fenced on the coastal side but is open over the water. The access to the dog park is free but all dogs must have rabies tags.
Contact: 2000 E Lloyd St, Pensacola, FL 32503, Phone: 850-436-5511
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»Davis Island (Tampa), FL
Davis Islands Dog Beach is a 2.5-acre dog park on Tampa’s Davis Island that allows dogs free access to the beach and water. The park has two distinct areas, one on dry land and one on the 200-foot-long beach. Both areas have drinking water for dogs and areas for rinsing for both dogs and their owners. There is a nice shady area with benches and picnic tables. The park is fully fenced. It is very popular and usually full of dogs of all kinds and sizes, so do not bring your dogs if they are not social and do not get along with others. Dog owners must clean after their dogs and there are poop bag dispensers available in several places.
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»Tierra Verde, FL
Tierra Verde is a small town in Florida’s Pinellas County, located on an island near the entrance to Tampa Bay. Fort De Soto Park is one of Tierra Verde’s highlights and is spread over five small keys. It is the largest park in Pinellas County and has one of the most beautiful family beaches in the country. The park has miles of trails, several fishing piers, an old fort, protected bird species, native plants, and a rare dog beach where dogs can roam freely and splash in the sea. In addition, Fort de Soto has two more fenced areas close to the beach, for large and for small dogs. The beach entrance is located at the southwestern end of the dog park and has several water stations.
Contact: 3500 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde, FL 33715, Phone: 727-582-2267
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»Ft. Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach is a small town on Florida’s southwest coast, located on Estero Island, famous for its long, sandy beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Just past Lovers Key State Park, before the New Pass Bridge, is a wonderful dog beach park where dogs are allowed access the beach without leashes. The beach is wild and unsupervised, beautifully untouched by development. There are no restrooms, just a portable toilet. There are doggy stations where the owners can rinse the salt and sand from their dogs. Owners must clean up after their dogs. The beach is on a tidal flat and tides can come in very fast, so time your visit accordingly.
Contact: 8800 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931, Phone: 239-949-4615
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Sanibel Island in southwest Florida is famous for miles of wonderful sandy beaches washed by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and covered with colorful shells. There are beaches that are more family-friendly, others that are party centrals, beaches near golf courses, and beaches were people can bring their best four-legged friends. One of the dog-friendly beaches is Gulfside Beach, also called Algiers Beach, where dogs are allowed on a leash and can enjoy walking in the sand and splashing in the waves. The beach is close to the nature preserve. There are restrooms and picnic tables. There is no shade, but there are dog water fountains. There are no dog bags, so bring your own.
Contact: 2001 Algiers Ln, Sanibel, FL 33957, Phone: 239-472-6477
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Venice is a popular touristy town not far from Sarasota on the magnificent Florida Gulf Coast. Venice has 14 miles of fine sandy beaches, from Manasota Key to Casey Key. The most famous and the most beautiful is Venice Beach, lying along a healthy coral reef off-coast, perfect for a day in the sun, swimming, fishing, boating, or shelling. Brohard Paw Park is the only beach in Venice where dogs are allowed off-leash. The beach has all doggy delights, from fire hydrants to water fountains to showers for dogs and humans. There are also picnic tables and benches, but there isn’t much shade.
Contact: 1600 S Harbor Dr, Venice, FL 34285, Phone: 941-861-9830
Photo: Pix by Marti/Fotolia
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15 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches on the Gulf Coast
- Ocean Springs Beach, MS, Photo: Courtesy of Serghei - Fotolia.com
- Fort Morgan Beach, AL, Photo: Courtesy of Lacey Newman - Fotolia.com
- Hancock County Beaches, MS, Photo: Courtesy of cynoclub - Fotolia.com
- Dauphin Island Beach, AL, Photo: Courtesy of travelview - Fotolia.com
- South Padre National Seashore, TX, Photo: Courtesy of Sergey Filkin - Fotolia.com
- Port Aransas Beach, TX, Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie - Fotolia.com
- East Beach, TX, Photo: Courtesy of ShyLama Productions - Fotolia.com
- Stewart Beach Park, TX, Photo: Courtesy of Dmitry - Fotolia.com
- Panama City Beach, FL, Photo: Courtesy of Foap.com - Fotolia.com
- Pensacola, FL, Photo: Courtesy of Katie - Fotolia.com
- Davis Island (Tampa), FL, Photo: Courtesy of Vladimra - Fotolia.com
- Tierra Verde, FL, Photo: Courtesy of Wilfred - Fotolia.com
- Ft. Myers Beach, FL, Photo: Courtesy of jccain - Fotolia.com
- Sanibel, FL, Photo: Courtesy of kabel - Fotolia.com
- Venice, FL, Photo: Courtesy of Pix by Marti - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Lunja - Fotolia.com
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