Situated off the southern coast of Alabama at the entrance to Mobile Bay, Dauphin Island boasts pristine stretches of sandy beach for you to explore, as well as ab variety of attractions to fill your vacation days. Book a Dauphin Island vacation rental near the beach to enjoy good food, outdoor adventures, art, and history, which are just a short walk or drive away. Start your Dauphin Island vacation off the right way with these 15 attractions.
1. Learn About Sea Life at the Sea Lab Estuarium
Enjoy a hands-on aquarium experience at the small Sea Lab Estuarium. Visitors can touch a number of species, including sting rays, and exhibits detail interesting facts about local sea creatures. Your kids are sure to want to stop by the gift shop, and while you’re there, be sure to take a walk around the boardwalk that traces aquarium’s property.
2. Charter a Fishing Boat
Fishing draws many visitors to Dauphin Island. Get the full maritime experience by chartering a boat from one of the many companies on the island, such as Southern Drawl Charters, Captain Mike’s Deep Sea Fishing, or FinAtics Inshore Fishing Charters.
3. Visit Fort Gaines
Since 1821 the east coast of Dauphin Island has been dominated by Fort Gaines. Today the national historic landmark features well-preserved ramparts, cannons, a blacksmith shop, kitchens, and tunnels with period dressed workers. Visit the on-site museum to learn all about the fort’s history, then stop by the gift shop for a souvenir.
4. Relax at Dauphin Island Public Beach
Dauphin Island Public Beach gives beach goers fantastic views of the Gulf of Mexico. Stretch out on the soft sands, relax, swim, and run through the waves as you forget about the travails of daily life. If you’re going to spend a long day at the beach, consider renting some beach chairs, chaise lounges, or sun umbrellas from Chaise N’ Rays.
5. Rent a Kayak or Bicycle
Dauphin Island Kayak & Bicycle Rentals helps you explore the island and the nearby waters with bicycles, kayaks, and all the gear you need to travel safely in both. The company even delivers and picks up rentals anywhere on the island, including your vacation rental. Once you’re all set up with equipment, the island has over 8 miles of paved bike trails.
6. Take in Some Local Art
Find inspiration in the creative works of residents of Dauphin Island and surrounding areas with a visit to the Dauphin Island Heritage and Arts Council Museum. The small gallery has works for sale and also holds painting classes if you want to feed your own creative side.
7. See the Island by Sea
If you want access to your own boat while staying at your vacation rental, consider mooring it at Dauphin Island Marina. The full-service marina also rents pontoon boats and paddle boards if you want to explore offshore at a leisurely pace.
8. Search for Dolphins & See a Lighthouse
Action Outdoors offers boat tours that show off a variety of local treasures in one three hour cruise. The tours head to Sand Island Lighthouse while keeping an eye out for dolphins. The boat also drags for shrimp while you cruise, placing the catch in a tank so you can touch and feel the little creatures. The company also offers sunset cruises, and you can bring your own food and drinks on board for at sea picnic.
9. Join Locals for a Concert at the Beach
If your visit to Dauphin Beach includes a Sunday evening, check the town’s calendar to see if you can catch a Sunday Sunset Concert at West End Beach. Bring your own blankets or chairs from your vacation rental, then sit back and watch the sun drop beyond the horizon to the sweet sound of music. Children under 13 enter for free, making it a great way to wrap up a fun day with your family. If you’re not in town for one of the concerts, the city also shows free movies at West End Beach throughout the summer.
10. Go Bird Watching
Give the birders in your party something to chirp about with a walk through the 137-acre Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary. Winding trails work their way around marshes, dunes, swamp, and a lake packed with birds and other wildlife, including small alligators and turtles. You can even follow one trail down to the beach. The sanctuary is especially popular in the spring when migrating through the area.
11. Go Surfing
The Gulf Coast of Dauphin Island offers numerous spots to catch the waves on your surf board. Learn the best spots on the island, and pick up the gear you need, at Blu Revival Surf Shop. The shop sells boards, wax, shorts, and other surfing essentials.
12. Isle Dauphine Golf Club
Practice your putting and long game with a round of golf at Isle Dauphine Golf Club. The nine-hole course winds through sparse trees and lakes and features ocean views from many vantage points. At the end of your game, stop by the clubhouse for some ice cream before heading back to your vacation rental.
13. Play Mini Golf at Island Golf
If a full round of golf is a bit too much for you or your family, you can still hit the ball around at Island Golf. With 18 holes of beach themed fun, the course is perfect for challenging your kids, or your spouse, to a game. If you think your game is up to par, Island Golf also hosts mini golf tournaments.
14. Dine by the Pool
Combine swimming and eating with a visit to Pirate’s Bar and Grill. Despite the name, the grill is kid-friendly so you can take the whole family. Choose between the large outdoor pool or a private beach to get in the water before or after you eat.
15. Take the Ferry to Fort Morgan
Located a short ferry ride across the entrance to Mobile Bay from Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan features a historical fort that dates back to the War of 1812, as well as a beach and boat launch that are included in the price of admission. The Fort Morgan State Historic Site Museum exhibits the history of the fort. If you have veterans in your group, they can request a more in depth discussion of military tactics used at Fort Morgan over the centuries.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Dauphin Island vacation rentals on Tripping.com.