It may be small compared to its neighbors; it may be chopped in two by the great inlet of Mobile Bay; it may be tantalizingly nestled just a few kilometres from the famous sand stretches of nearby Florida, but Alabama’s Gulf Coast really can pack a punch in the beach department. Trust me.
Ask any Alabama local and they’ll be quick to extol the virtues of their small cut of coastal land, peaking out so unceremoniously from the south-western corner of the state with its sparkling white sands and rolling turquoise waves. Indeed, this is a land alive with remote and rugged coastal scenery, lively college party beaches and family friendly swimming spots; a veritable must on the beach-hunter’s trail through the Gulf.
Here are five of the top beach destinations in all of Alabama, ranging from artsy inlets on Mobile Bay to wild spring break destinations on the Florida panhandle.
This curious 14-mile stretch of green trees and white sand that juts out westward from Mobile Bay is home to some of Alabama’s undisputed beach bests. The long public stretch of sand on its Gulf side is easily accessible all through the year, with small environmental fees collected for access during the high season. What’s more, guests enjoy a well-developed range of vacation accommodation options, including self-catering summer homes, stylish condominiums and the Island’s campground, which is nestled between the great Audubon Bird Sanctuary and a quiet nearby beach.
Perhaps best known as one of Alabama’s hippest port towns, Orange Beach is also home to one of the state’s most lively arts & crafts festivals and is a perennially favorite spot for college students on spring break looking for something a little more refined than the teeming party beaches elsewhere on the Gulf coast. It’s nestled neatly on the edge of the Florida panhandle, just a stone’s throw from the state border, making it a perfect stop off for travellers heading through to the more tropical destinations in the south.
Beachside camping, sea-view cabins and a range of breezy self-catering cottages await visitors at Alabama’s Gulf State Park, all offering unrivalled access to the two-miles of ivory-white sand that runs east to west along its front. Between the tennis courts and links golfing, guests also enjoy the longest fishing pier on the entire Mexican Gulf, along with access to a range of coastal hiking routes around nearby Lake Shelby. What’s more, the sands are clean and the sunsets are to die for!
Located just down the road from Gulf Shores’ most famous stretch of sand at Orange Beach, this one’s also worth a mention for its easy access and lively character. All day long, locals can be seen vying for the sandy volleyball courts, while endless tunes burst from the rickety cafés beyond. What’s more, it’s one of the most popular spots amongst Gulf Shores residents, and can get really hectic during the high season, when students descend to enjoy cocktails and coffees in the bars around the boulevard.
Photo by SabanWorshipper/Flickr.
Running its way up the eastern edge of Mobile Bay, beautiful Fairhope beach offers one of the most secluded and picturesque seaside settings in all of Alabama. It’s backed by the quirky artist’s community of Fairhope itself, and runs northwards from the town’s famous Municipal Pier, where small waves and strong breezes make it at once wild and tranquil in character. For family swimmers and groups with children, the busier spot of Point Clear a little to the south is a better option, where a purpose-built sea wall makes for some calm and easy swimming conditions.