A white, sun-washed beach with grass covered dunes, gentle salt-scented breezes and the natural laid-back feel one would expect from an island getaway. That and more awaits visitors year 'round on the secluded barrier isle called Dauphin Island, Alabama.
Known for its variety of accommodations from condos and rental homes, to cabins, bed and breakfast inns and the cozy Gulf Breeze Motel, many free spirited visitors to this gulf coast getaway choose to kick back beneath the open sky at the Dauphin Island Campground.
"Though the 'snow birds' in their RVs keep us around 75 percent capacity during the wintertime, spring and summer are the real peak times here," said Mike Henderson, manager of the forty-something year old retreat.
Dauphin Island is known throughout the world as a birdwatcher's paradise. "Spring is when the birds fly back from South America," Henderson said. "Dauphin Island is the first landfall that they find on their way back home. In fact, we're one of the top four fly-ways for bird migration in the United States, so 'birders' flock to the Island, and many stay with us." Summer is always at capacity as the Island fills with families on back-to-nature and beach adventures, he said.
Set on the historic east end, the Dauphin Island Campground has 150 heavily wooded RV sites, with both 30 and 50 amp power and water. Three quarters of the sites also have sewer connections, and there is a dump station on the property. The facility has bathrooms, hot showers, washers and dryers and more. "We have a large event pavilion with its own kitchen that is heavily used by campers and rallies, recreation facilities and planned social activities for both adults and kids."
Primarily back-ins, the RV sites are level with a combination of crushed rock and concrete pads, says Henderson. The grassed tent sites are protected by tall trees and thick foliage.
Tucked into a thicket of live oaks and towering pines, the campground offers a path that leads directly into the nearby Audubon Bird Sanctuary with a fresh water lake, and many species of birds and other wildlife to be viewed up close and personal. Miles of white sand beaches and rolling dunes, a small covered pavilion and dune observation points are a short stroll down a wooded path at the south end of the property.
Part of the popularity of the Dauphin Island Campground comes from its nearness to the water and great fishing. "We have free boat launches with five-minute access to the Gulf of Mexico and a 200-foot fishing pier within walking distance," said Henderson. "And, for our campers there is a fish cleaning pavilion with fresh water connections on-site that can accommodate up to 12 fishermen at one time."
Since the early 1700s, Dauphin Island has been a secluded destination for travelers. Today the Island is home to family-style activities from sports and history, to nature and plain old family fun.
Just minutes from the campground is the Dauphin Island public golf course, which has been compared to more difficult links-style courses originally built along large bodies of water and forest areas in Scotland. "Ours is not a true links course, but very similar because of the Gulf waters and natural roughs, which in our case are dunes and trees," said course GM and resident PGA pro Jeff Collier. "It's traditionally a course with mixed grasses in the fairways unlike more manicured courses like Augusta National."
At 600-yards, the par 72 course is fairly narrow and considered by many to be a tough play. "Accuracy is most important on this course," Collier said. "You don't have to hit it a mile, but you do need to hit it straight to stay in play and out of the dunes." Many of our golfers playing the course every winter are "snow bird" RVers from the Dauphin Island Campground who have traveled south to beat the bitter winter back home."
Historic Fort Gaines, now restored to its Civil War era appearance, is a short walk from the campground. The fort was completed by Confederate troops in 1862 and its role in the Battle of Mobile Bay was one of the war's most notable naval conflicts.
The educational displays at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Estuarium take guests on a journey that explores the beauty of wildlife along the Gulf Coast. Exciting exhibits, aquariums and interactive displays make science come alive. The giant Exhibit Hall is complemented by the Living Marsh Boardwalk that examines the evolution of this barrier island.
Henderson points out that the slower, non-commercial nature of Dauphin Island is what lures new visitors to the Island and keeps bringing the regulars back year after year. "They like the Island's secluded nature," he said. "When I get calls asking about our go-cart tracks and discos, I explain that Dauphin Island is a laid back place to come and relax along the Gulf Coast. It's like a '50s-style beach town set in the 21st Century. It's a small town and our campers love it."
Dauphin Island is just 33 miles south of Mobile Alabama at the mouth of Mobile Bay. For more information about Dauphin Island, Alabama, please visit www.dauphinisland.org or call 1-877-532-8744 toll free. Dauphin Island is "Alabama's Family Beach"®.
Address: 109 Bienville Boulevard
Come visit us in Dauphin Island, Alabama