Best Beaches and Coastal Parks in Alabama
By Madison Lee
It’s finally summer. The days are long, and the weather is hot. What better way is there to cool down on your summer vacation than by visiting the beach? The salty breeze, the cool water, the white sand… we’ve been waiting all year.
Maybe you’ve been to the beach every summer and are looking for something new.
Maybe you’ve never been to the beach and want to find a great place for your first trip.
Here are the best beaches and coastal parks in Alabama. These places aren’t just sand and water. They all have their own special amenities and attractions, so read on to find the best one for your trip!
Best Beaches in Alabama
First up, we have the best beaches. There are lots of beaches in south Alabama, so make sure you pick a good one for your vacation. These are the ones that often appear on lists of the best beaches in the area.
Gulf Shores Beach
Gulf Shores Main Public Beach, aka Gulf Place, is one of the most popular beaches in Alabama. You can access it through the public access locations spanning several blocks. Four of these locations include special mats that make them handicap accessible.
This beach is great for all your activities and social gatherings. It has a lot of amenities to offer, such as a picnic area, volleyball nets, a playground, and pavilions.
When you’re done with all that fun in the sun, you can clean up in the beach’s restrooms and showers. Because we all know how hard it is to get that powdery sand out of your car.
Dauphin Island Public Beach
Dauphin Island Public Beach is located on Dauphin Island. Here, you’ll get large, open beach access. Even when there are large crowds, you still won’t feel crowded.
While there are small parking fees, they’re worth it because of all the great things the island has to offer. You can bring your leashed dogs and let your kids play on the beach’s playground.
The beach itself isn’t the only part of Dauphin Island to love. There are tons of other fun activities around the island as well.
History buffs can go to Fort Gaines or Shell Mound Park. Nature enthusiasts can go to Alabama Aquarium or Audubon Bird Sanctuary. A few other cool places are the Sand Island Lighthouse, Dauphin Island Marina, and Pirate’s Bar and Grill.
Fort Morgan Beach
Next on the list of best beaches is Fort Morgan Beach in Gulf Shores, AL. There are 3 public access locations. Only one location has a parking lot, but searching for a parking spot is worth the wait.
Some features here are beach chairs and equipment for rent plus changing rooms on the beach. This place is pet friendly, so feel free to take your dog (who also deserves a vacation) on a coastline walk.
Wash up in the showers and restrooms near the beach on your way out. Then stop by one of the local restaurants for a great meal. If you want to learn more about the area, visit the Fort Morgan State Historic Site to get a view of its history.
Best Coastal Parks in Alabama
Next are the best coastal parks. If you want an experience that’s a little different than a typical beach, check out these parks. They all have water access but give you a nature experience as well. There are plenty of fun activities to make your visit enjoyable.
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
One of the best coastal parks in Alabama is Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores. This park was established in 1980 to protect certain species of plants and animals in the region. Some of these animals include sea turtles, beach mice, and neotropical songbirds.
Besides the beautiful views of nature, there are many other fun activities in the refuge. You can go fishing, watch the birds migrating in the spring and fall, and take your canoe or kayak out on the water.
The refuge also has 4 hiking trails where you can see the landscapes of the area. If you want a guided tour, Bon Secour even has a few options for that.
Gulf State Park
The next coastal park on the list is Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, AL. The park spans more than 6,000 acres and has something everyone will enjoy.
You can rent a bike or take a segway tour to explore the paved Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. The trail is open for hiking and biking and is ADA-accessible.
Lake Shelby is great for swimming and boating, or you can rent a kayak to take out on the water. There’s a dog pond at Lake Shelby too, so bring your dog for some fun.
Gulf State Park has more than 3.5 miles of beach access, so take advantage of it by visiting Romar Beach, Cotton Bayou Beach, or Alabama Point Beach. There is also a fishing pier and a beach pavilion with restrooms.
The Interpretive Center, Learning Campus, and Nature Center are educational areas in Gulf State Park. These places are for kids and adults alike, so everyone is sure to learn something.
After exploring the park, you can enjoy a nice meal for lunch or dinner in one of the on-site restaurants. Choose from a variety of lodging options after you’re tired out. You can stay in a cottage, cabin, campground, hotel, or campsite.
Meaher State Park
If you don’t want to go all the way south, Meaher State Park is another coastal park in Alabama. This park is located in Spanish Fort, AL, which is right next to Mobile. It covers more than 1,300 acres.
While this park doesn’t have a true beach, it does offer access to Mobile-Tensaw Delta. The Delta is a system of lakes, bayous, rivers, wetlands, and more that eventually flow into Mobile Bay.
Meaher State Park is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. There’s a pier for fishing and riverways for exploring by boat. You can also walk around the park and see the wildlife, birds, and plants.
If you want to stay overnight, Meaher State Park has a campground with RV sites, tent sites, and cabins.
How You Can Protect Alabama’s Beaches and Coastal Parks
We’ve all seen the pictures of sea turtles caught in plastic nets and fish who have eaten trash until they die. It’s heart-wrenching to think of how many animals are in danger because of waste.
We all need to take action together to protect the wildlife and ecosystems that share the planet with us. Below are just a few of the ways you can get involved.
Clean up after yourself and others when you visit a beach
Single-use plastics and litter are some of the most common ways plastic reaches the ocean. Did you know 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year?
An easy way for you to help lower the amount of plastic in the water is to clean up the beach every time you visit.
Obviously you should pick up your own trash, but you should pick up other people’s trash as well. Just remember you’re saving the ocean—and the animals in it—by picking it up for them.
Donate to Disaster Recovery or buy merchandise from Ocean Blue Project
Ocean Blue Project is a nonprofit based in Oregon. It was founded in 2012 to clean up our One World Ocean and make it less polluted.
The organization’s main goal is to remove 1 million pounds of plastic from the ocean. If that’s a cause you want to support, help Ocean Blue Project through donations or purchases.
You can easily donate through Ocean Blue Project’s website. Each dollar you donate will be used to clean one pound of trash from the ocean and beaches.
Another easy way to support Ocean Blue Project is to buy merchandise from its store. The proceeds go directly toward supporting the organization’s mission.
Learn more and take action
Visit Ocean Blue Project’s website to learn more about its work and read related blog posts.
You can also see upcoming cleanup projects or details on how to organize your own cleanup.
Don’t wait to get started – anything you can do to help will make a difference. The ocean, the environment, and the animals need you.
Author Bio: Madison Lee is a copywriter from Tennessee. She enjoys traveling, learning new things, and spending time with her dogs. She likes volunteering and supporting nonprofits with her writing so she can share their missions with others.