Dauphin Island is a perfect place for an escape in paradise, where its beauty and wildlife can help you unwind.
If you want to exit the busy streets scene, then the laid-back vibe on Dauphin Island is the place for you.
This small island is a nature lover’s dream because of its scenic view, abundant wildlife, and sanctuaries.
Despite being a small remote island, there are a lot of unique activities and destinations to explore.
You’ll be surprised to know that aside from the beach, there are many things to do in Dauphin Island.
Where is Dauphin Island, Alabama?
Dauphin Island is an island in Mobile County, which is about 50 kilometers away from the south of Mobile.
This island is one of the hidden gems in Alabama and a perfect vacation destination for all visitors to the Alabama coast.
More than 1000 people live on Dauphin Island, but thousands of visitors each year enjoy their shores.
Even though many tourists flock to this island, you’ll never find the public beaches crowded because of their exclusivity.
It is a perfect destination to enjoy peace, privacy, and nature without worrying about overcrowding.
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Things to Do on Dauphin Island
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
The Dauphin Island Sea Lab started in 1971 to cater marine science courses to universities and colleges.
They have over 22 partner institutions providing undergraduate and graduate student programs.
You may wonder, “What can you do in an educational institution on vacation?”
Well, Dauphin Island Sea Lab houses the Alabama Aquarium, showcasing marine life near the island.
Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s exhibit focuses on Mobile Bay, the Northern Gulf of Mexico, the Mobile Tensaw River Delta, and the Barrier Islands.
The aquariums feature more than 100 species, a stingray touch pool, and different plants in the surrounding area.
The Alabama Aquarium uses interactive and visual exhibits to educate visitors on marine life in Alabama.
You can also buy apparel and souvenirs from their online gift shop, which helps fund their courses and programs.
One of their items, the adoptable pets, is a plush sea turtle with a certification, fact card, sticker, and drawstring backpack.
Monday to Sunday – 9 am to 5 pm
Children and Students with ID – $6
Adult – $12
Seniors – $10
Visit: 101 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
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Indian Shell Mound Park
The Indian Shell Mound Park is an 11-acre botanical garden with different birds and plants.
It is near the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Marine Resources Division office on the island’s north shore.
The island and this park are suitable for observing migrant birds that many bird watchers visit around spring and fall.
When birds migrate across the Gulf of Mexico, they first land on Dauphin Island, making them a bird sanctuary.
Aside from plants and birds, shell middens existed from 1100 to 1550.
These middens are from the Indians who visited the island and roasted oysters on their stay during the Mississippian era.
You’ll see live oaks and other representative plant species from the Appalachian Mountains and Yucatan State throughout the park.
Most of these plants were from the Indians who lived on the island and used it for cooking and medicinal purposes.
Visit: 830 Desoto Dr, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
Dauphin Island Marina
Dauphin Island Marina provides all your island needs while you enjoy your vacation from marine fuels, lodging, boats, and restaurants.
You can find them down at the Dauphin Island Bridge, which is convenient if you use the bridge from Cedar Point to travel.
Upon arriving at Dauphin Island, their restaurant welcomes you to fill your tummy before you set off on your adventure.
Their marina services include 140 dry slips, 90 wet slips, and 25 trailer boat slips that stores different types of boats.
They also have fuel pumps, gift shops, restrooms, shower facilities, and rentals which are everything you need on the island.
If you feel like fishing on the island, Dauphin Island Marina can link you with a fishing charter to plan your fishing excursion.
Boat rentals are also available if you feel like doing outdoor water activities or just an island exploration.
Visit: 650 Lemoyne Dr, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
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Audubon Bird Sanctuary
Audubon Bird Sanctuary is one of the four places in North America where most birds stop by during spring migrations.
Their 137-acre location has marshes, dunes, a lake, a swamp, a beach, and maritime forests.
Its presence on the island is essential because it is a protected forest and the first stop for neotropical migrant birds.
These birds come from the Gulf of Central and South America during spring, and Dauphin Island is their first shelter.
The island has over 420 bird species out of 445 documented in Alabama, making them a significant spot for bird watching.
The 3-mile trail in the sanctuary is accessible to people in wheelchairs so that everyone can enjoy the beautiful boardwalk path.
Visit: 211 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
Dauphin Island Heritage and Arts Council
For art lovers, Dauphin Island Heritage and Arts Council (DIHAC) exhibits different art forms for all locals and visitors.
DIHAC is a nonprofit organization that helps visual, literary and performing arts to strive by connecting them to patrons and shows.
They provide venues for art exhibits, performances, courses, and shows so artists can keep arts alive on the island.
Their education focuses on the history of South Mobile County through the expression and appreciation of art.
Visit: 918 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
Sand Island Lighthouse
Sand Island stands tall at the east Mobile Point and west Dauphin Island, three miles from the Mobile Bay entrance.
Congress wanted an “iron spindle” to make it visible from six miles away, so they made this 600-dollar project come true.
However, seamen found the spindle insufficient for them; therefore, Congress pushed the 10,000-dollar lighthouse on Sand Island.
Winslow Lewis, sea captain, and engineer built the 55-feet lighthouse with 14 lamps and 16-inch reflectors.
John McCloud was the first keeper of the Sand Island Lighthouse.
Meanwhile, the Mobile Point Lighthouse took its place as the first-class beacon.
Visit: Sand Island Light, Gulf of Mexico, AL
Dauphin Island Public Beach
Dauphin Island has two public beaches found on the east and west side of the town.
Both beaches have an almost white sandy beach that many tourists and locals enjoy.
Despite being a public beach, they are quiet, and few people crowd the area so you can keep your peace.
However, it may take a long walk to reach the pristine waters so expect a tiring little strut before you can dip.
But the sparkling sand and calm waters will make it worth all that hot and long walk.
They have beautiful beachfront parks, so you can relax while enjoying the panoramic view of the beach.
The East and West End Beach are open from 8 am to 6 pm, with a $10 fee for parking.
If you plan to dip in Dauphin Island waters, the best months are from May to September.
Visit: East End Beach: next to the Fort
West End Beach: 3000 Bienville Boulevard
Dauphin Island Campground
Dauphin Island Campground is a 151-site camping area that makes an excellent spot to bond with your family.
They have a pet-friendly beachfront, park, store, boat launches, pavilion, and more.
It is also a strategic location because it can easily access the Sea Lab, Fort Gaines, Audubon Bird Sanctuary, and Mobile Bay Ferry.
Some amenities include a bathhouse, playground, bike rentals, badminton, barbecue grills, and laundry.
You can also utilize their water and electricity, horseshoe, shuffleboards, and more to do outdoor and indoor activities.
If you want to catch your food like fish, there is a fishing pier nearby and a fish-cleaning pavilion for you to use.
Visit: 109 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
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Dauphin Island Pier
Dauphin Island Pier was originally a fishing pier, but when Pelican Island joined the shoreline, it became a site for sightseeing.
The pier became a spot for picnics, and its end gives access to the Gulf shorelines.
This pet-friendly pier has no fees but closes at sundown, but you’ll have all the time to dip your feet in the white sand beach.
Visit: 1551 Bienville Blvd Dauphin Island, AL, US 36528
Fort Gaines is a famous landmark in Dauphin Island because of its contribution to the civil war in Mobile Bay.
Laborers had to transport the three million bricks that made the Fort because there was no clay where it was.
On the opposite side is Fort Morgan, which served as the barrier that protected the island from the enemies.
Fort Gaines has guarded the Mobile Bay entrance for over 150 years and is now a historic site.
Going up the Fort allows you to see the far-reaching bay and the Gulf of Mexico, so it is a perfect sight to observe.
The rich stories from soldiers that built Fort Gaines’s history make it a must-visit to learn about Alabama’s history.
However, with the erosion on the shoreline, Fort Gaines is now part of America’s most endangered historic site.
Visit: 51 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
Dauphin Island Bird Houses
Near Bayou Aloe
Dauphin Island Bird Houses is a cute row of houses near the marina dock, and their vibrant colors make them stand out.
The side view of these houses looks unique because you would not expect it to be so narrow.
“The Birdhouses,” another name for this attraction, were originally fishing camps where you could store boats.
Currently, these birdhouses function as summer and rental homes for tourists who want easy access to the beach.
It is almost impossible not to take a picture in this destination because even artists paint them.
Isle Dauphine Golf Club
Isle Dauphine Golf Club is a great place to play a game of 9-hole golf on the remote Dauphin Island.
The golf course nestles on the small ridge of sand that formed because of the sea surrounding the island.
You can expect the ground to be rough with weird elevations, but it was a famous golf course in Mobile County.
What makes playing golf here spectacular is that you can see the Gulf of Mexico and the cheap rates.
Currently, the Isle Dauphine Golf Club is under new management; thus, the course is slowly rehabilitating.
You can enjoy this course with friends and family if you want a chill golf game.
Visit: 100 Orleans Dr, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
Dauphin Island Kayak & Bicycle Rentals & Tours
You cannot miss water activities on a beautiful island like Dauphin Island.
Dauphin Island Kayak & Bicycle Rentals & Tours can provide you with different rentals you may need during your stay.
They deliver anywhere on the island, so it is a convenient service that can attend to all your requests.
There are also kayak tours that let you explore different waterways on the island, depending on experience and age.
They also provide bike rentals and tours if you want to tour the island while feeling the summer breeze.
Their bike tour is a great learning experience for tourists because it showcases the rich history of Dauphin Island.
All their rentals are available for two hours a week, and you can call them from 9 am to 6 pm.
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Miguel’s Beach’n Baja
Miguel’s Beach’n Baja is a famous restaurant in Dauphin Island specializing in Mexican food.
They serve the best and freshest Mexican cuisine, like homemade salsa, burritos, tacos, specialty chicken, and quesadillas.
The restaurant brings the West Coast to the Gulf Coast with its fantastic food menu that is guaranteed fresh.
However, it is best to order your food as a takeaway because they have limited tables and no restrooms.
Don’t worry because you will leave the place with a smile on your face and belly with their friendly staff and delicious food.
Visit: 202 Lemoyne Dr, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo Site
Mobile Jaycees introduces Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, which hosts the world’s largest fishing competition.
It started in 1929, and since then, it has gathered over 75,000 audiences and 3,000 participants.
You can witness this 3-day tournament while anglers compete in 30 categories wherein three can win.
There is a cash incentive for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd placer and a Master Angler award for Big Game, King Mackerel, and Speckled Trout.
Aside from this project’s entertainment value, they also help fund academic scholarships.
They donated around $400,000 for the past eight years to the University of South Alabama Department of Marine Sciences to contribute to the local community.
Visit: 531 Lemoyne Dr, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
How To Go To Dauphin Island
Going to Dauphin Island is easy if you can access the bridge or ferry.
However, you may find that most people use the bridge route because it is faster regardless of where you are.
From Mobile, Alabama
If you are from Mobile, AL, you must take the I-10 that heads west and exit 17A-17B.
Along the way, turn towards AL-193 south, the Dauphin Island Parkway south, and follow this route until you reach Cedar Point.
Once you reach Cedar Point, you may finally cross the Dauphin Island Bridge to enter the island.
At the end of the bridge, Alabama’s Coastal Connection will welcome you along with the various fishing charters in the area.
The drive from Mobile City to Dauphin Island can take about 45 minutes, considering the almost 40-mile distance.
From Fort Morgan
If you are from Mobile City but want to experience seeing new things on a small ferry, you can ride from Fort Morgan.
Drive to the I-10 east from Mobile City, then take Exit 49, which leads to the Baldwin Beach Express going south.
You must enter the Foley Beach Express that heads south as you pass Summerdale on your left.
Then take the Coastal Gateway Boulevard, then head south until you pass Jack Edwards Airport.
Enter Route 180 heading to the west, and you’ll reach Fort Morgan in Gulf Shores, where regular trips to Dauphin Island await you.
You can return to Fort Morgan by riding scheduled trips from Dauphin Island Ferry.
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What To Prepare For Your Dauphin Island Trip
Before the fun begins on Dauphin Island, you must prepare your vacation essentials.
Packing your luggage for a trip is a stress reliever and can help you get in the mood for vacation.
So if you are unsure what to bring, this section will help you pack your essentials and extras.
If your Dauphin Island Trip will be long, it is safe to bring a large luggage bag to store most of your things.
But if you are going for a casual and short trip, you can prepare a backpack or duffle bag.
The most important thing here is that you are comfortable and have everything you need.
Also, ensure that you make a tag for your luggage or bag so other people can quickly return it if it is missing.
Before going to Dauphin Island, it would help if you already knew what activities you would try.
Different activities may require other items, from clothes, equipment, and hygiene.
But since it is an island, you’ll expect more water activities, so you may need to prepare many things.
It would help to choose shoes or sandals that fit the beach setting and last a long trail walk.
You may also need a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, thin clothes, or maybe an umbrella, especially in summer.
Also, don’t forget your hygiene kit and some first aid kit because little accidents can happen anywhere.
Chargers, cables, power banks, earphones, and other gadgets must have a waterproof case if you ever bring them on board.
Meanwhile, essential documents like IDs, passports, and more should stay in a secured bag or envelope free from sand, water, and misplacement.
Campgrounds usually provide the equipment needed, so don’t worry about it if you’re thinking of going on a camping journey.
After preparing your supplies, please find a way to pack them in a way you can easily take them in and out of the bag.
Accommodation and Rentals
Though some accommodations and rentals will accept walk-in customers, the safest decision is to have them all booked in advance.
If you plan to stay at the accommodation on Dauphin Island, finalize things and ask for directions on how to go to their location.
Ensure that they get your correct details and that you can quickly check in and out of place.
Confirm your transaction before you pick up the car if you rent a car to drive to Dauphin Island.
Prepare all the necessary documents before arrival and pickup to ensure a smooth transaction.
Finally, if you plan to rent bicycles and boats on Dauphin Island, book a reservation so they can prepare it for you.
While it is exciting to have a spontaneous trip, it will help you have fewer burdens if you have everything prepared.
You may not need a passport on Dauphin Island, but to be sure, photocopy your documents before going on the trip.
It may be your ID, passport, licenses, receipts, and reservation tickets or vouchers.
An itinerary is a must if you are not the type who wants a spontaneous trip.
You can get a copy of different tourist attractions, restaurants, and accommodations in the Dauphin Island Chamber of Commerce or the Little Red School House Community Complex.
You can also research online and create an itinerary that suits your taste, schedule, and budget.
What Climate to Expect in Dauphin Island
The island is a chill place to spend your summer, so the best time to visit Dauphin Island beaches is from April to mid-May or late September to early November.
The island has long, hot summers, while winters are short and windy.
But on regular days, the island enjoys a partly cloudy and wet climate the whole year.
You can expect a temperature of 7 to 31 degrees Celsius, so check their weather before visiting.
Why is Dauphin Island Called Massacre Island?
Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville established a French colony base on the island in 1699.
On their arrival, the island had many human bones on the shore, making them name it Massacre Island.
Dauphin Island was once in possession of Spain and England before the United States claimed it in 1803.
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The Bottom Line
There’s nothing better than a perfect island vacation with pristine waters and your feet on white sand.
Despite being a small remote island, Dauphin Island proved that there are many things to do that you may not find in the city.
If you want a taste of a peaceful island with beautiful nature and overflowing wildlife, then Dauphin Island will show you exactly that.
It doesn’t matter if your trip is day-long or week-long; this island will give you its best and yet-to-discover gems.