Ultimate small town/beach vacation spot – even for those of us on perpetual vacations ;)

During our day on Dauphin Island, we first went to the Estuarium, then across the street to Fort Gaines.  After we toured the fort, we drove around the fort to the end of the road; it dead-ended in a small parking lot that offered public beach access with a beautiful view out into the gulf…DSC_0421_421

Next we drove back down the island just a short distance, and drove to the

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Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuary.   The sanctuary is just off the road, has a small parking area (not big rig friendly), and is free; the sanctuary encompasses 137 acres, and has 3 miles of walking trails.

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In the center of the bird sanctuary is Gaillard Lake…

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Which is a beautiful little lake that is perfect for bird watching.  (and no swimming allowed ;) )…DSC_0433_433 The surroundings here in the bird sanctuary change from lookin glike a dry piney woods to a deep south feel to more  of a rain forest-y appearance.  I loved the variety found in just a short walk. DSC_0439_439There is a beach access on the far side of the lake; to access it, you must take the walking path around the lake and out to the beach – there is no parking near the beach (it’s a short walk, maybe half a mile?)…

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Strung out along the path are informative plaques for various birds, plants, and animals, which are found in the park…

DSC_0445_445 We didn’t see a lot of birds from the trail, but we aren’t the quietest walkers either ;)  We did see a lot of birds on/from the beach tho!DSC_0451_451 The beach is lovely!  Looking down the beach to the west, you can see homes and townhouses in the distance. DSC_0460_460

The view to the east, looks out on the island end; the tip that you can see on the right side of the picture, is the end of the island – where the small parking area near Fort Gaines (with the small turnaround) is…

DSC_0463_463 Dauphin Island has been named one of the top FOUR locations in North America for viewing spring migrations!
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I loved the clean, tidy island!  It boasts a small-town feel that is hospitable and welcoming.  The island has a county RV campground with 150 sites (99 fhu-on the east end of the island, between the bird sanctuary and Fort Gaines), a private campground, one hotel (in the middle of the island, but on the west end of what is accessible to the public), and lots of vacation/seasonal rentals…

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The island has a nice bike path that stretches for miles, between the east end of the island and the single hotel.  There were a couple of small convenience stores on the island, and the fuel was the same price as the mainland/Mobile.

The locals say that if you want the best gumbo ever, you have to hit up the Dauphin Island BBQ.  For shrimp, whether you are staying on the island or just driving down for the day, stop by Skinner’s Seafood; the owner has his own boat so the shrimp is very fresh (and runs between $5 and $6 dollars a pound, which is much cheaper than any grocery store).  At Skinner’s, you can take it  home fresh and cook it yourself, or they will steam it for you.  Several people told us it was hands down The Best shrimp out there; we had planned to stop and pick some up on our way home, but we got so busy checking out the sights, that we forgot all about it until we were already halfway back to the RV!  :(

The island boasts another very fun/unique experience; the Mobile Bay Ferry!  Because it is only 3 miles between Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan, you can easily daytrip between the two points.  If you choose to stay on Dauphin Island, but would like to visit Fort Morgan, on the other side of the bay, you can hop the ferry (with your car, or on foot) and take the 45 min ride to the other side (saving hours from driving up and around the bay via Mobile).  The Mobile Bay Ferry would have been such a great experience, but we didn’t have time, and we want to do it on a nice day, sans rig, and it was windy and chilly the day we were down on the island.  Be sure to check the ferry website for fees, schedule, and closures.

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Dauphin Island may be only 14 miles long, and 1  3/4 miles wide, but there is a ton of things to do and experience here (and a whole lot of relaxing waiting for you!).

 

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Comments

Ultimate small town/beach vacation spot – even for those of us on perpetual vacations ;) — 1 Comment

  1. We are back in Apache Junction and Jim is chomping at the bit to go fishing. The weather is going to be perfect next week so he is one happy man. Sure doesn’t make for any blog fodder though so I’m glad you guys are making up for it. Really enjoying your exploring.

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