Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Dauphin Island, AL

  • Published 2022/09/19

Dauphin Island, also known as the Sunset Capital of Alabama, is one of the most idyllic beach getaways in the south.

Apart from pristine white beaches, the island is a treasure trove with its quaint history, quiet forests, buzzing bird sanctuaries, and more.

A few miles south of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico, Dauphin Island is easy to reach as it connects to the mainland.

The ferries operate year-round and offer spectacular views of Mobile Bay while reducing travel time.

Dauphin Island is the best spot for unwinding and having a wholesome weekend with friends and family.

The island offers attractive recreation options both on land and on water.

These are the best things to do in Dauphin Island, Alabama:

Visit the Little Red School House Community Complex

The Little Red School House Community Complex started as a school building in the 1930s.

Later, the locals protested when authorities laid plans to demolish the building.

The building was relocated to Bienville Boulevard, where it started its second life phase as a community center.

The Little Red School House Community Complex now consists of a museum, a gift shop, and a library.

The museum is alive with the island’s history.

It contains pictorial records of significant landmarks, ways of life, bridges, and more.

The extensive library includes books for all ages, a sizeable DVD collection, audiobooks, games, and puzzles.

Go Back in Time at Fort Gaines

The gate of Fort Gaines

Joseph Creamer /

Take a walk back into the past with a self-guided tour at Fort Gaines.

The 19th-century fort played a vital role in the Battle of Mobile Bay and guarded its entrance for over a century.

Due to coastal erosion, Fort Gaines is an endangered historical site.

Blacksmith shop at Fort Gaines

Joseph Creamer /

It is now famous for its well-preserved ramparts, original cannons, tunnels, vintage officers’ quarters, and panoramic view of the bay.

The blacksmith and cannon firing demonstration is also a crowd-puller.

Interior of Fort Gaines

Paul Briden /

The tunnels connecting the different parts of the fort are open for exploration.

The museum and gift shop are also worth checking out, with handwritten letters and cute knickknacks to carry back home.

Fort Gaines is located on Bienville Boulevard.

Aerial view of Fort Gaines

George Dodd III /

Relax on White Sand at Dauphin Island East Public Beach

A trip to Dauphin Island without hitting the sugar-white beaches with their blue waters and warm rays would be a sad affair.

Deck up in your beach gear and go down to Dauphin Island East Public Beach to see why the island is called the Sunset Capital.

Littered with shells and crafty seagulls, the beach promises to give you a fun-filled day with occasional sightings of dolphins frivoling.

Dauphin Island East Public Beach is pet-friendly and adjacent to the trails and parks if you get tired of feeling the sand squishing beneath your feet.

Go Birdwatching at Audubon Bird Sanctuary

Trees at Audubon Bird Sanctuary

Malachi Jacobs /

Dauphin Island is one of the first stretches of land where the migratory birds from Central and South America rest, making the island a haven for birdwatchers.

The Audubon Bird Sanctuary is a preserve that gives you a glimpse of nests and birds recuperating before taking off again.

Besides birdwatching, the sanctuary also houses huge woodlands, swamps, marshes, and beaches with abundant wildlife.

Great heron at Audubon Bird Sanctuary

Malachi Jacobs /

Bundle up in your hiking outfits and sunscreen and walk the miles of trails through pines, live oaks, magnolias, swamps, and along beaches.

The trails are easy, and if you are lucky, the turtles might let you feed them.

You can find the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Bienville Boulevard.

Boardwalk at Audubon Bird Sanctuary

Melissa Tate /

Board the Mobile Bay Ferry

Cars aboard the Mobile Bay Ferry

romarti /

The Mobile Bay Ferry connects Dauphin Island to Fort Morgan.

It is the shortest and most time-saving route between these two points.

The ferry operates year-round and is equipped to carry vehicles.

Besides being the practical option, the route is the cherry on the cake with its spectacular views.

The ferry of Mobile Bay

James.Pintar /

During the 40-minute ride, you can enjoy the steady cool breeze, the leaping dolphins, diving birds, and the huge oil rigs.

You can either stay back and explore Fort Morgan or hop on for the ride back.

The Mobile Bay Ferry is located on Bienville Boulevard.

Take the Ferry to Fort Morgan

Exterior of Fort Morgan

Michael Novotny /

Visitors can take the Mobile Bay ferry to Fort Morgan, which dates back to the 19th century.

Though not as well restored as Fort Gaines, the architecture is magnificent.

The grounds of Fort Morgan

Michael Novotny /

The fort played a significant role in many wars, including WWI and WW2.

Fort Morgan is surrounded by beautiful beaches and scenic views and is ideal for a day out.

One of the halls at Fort Morgan

Michael Novotny /

Meet the Sea Creatures at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Daytime view of Dauphin Island Sea Lab

romarti /

If you are waiting for the ferry with a few hours to while away, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab would make for a good jaunt.

Also known as the Estuarium, it houses over 100 species of aquatic fauna in its 30-plus aquariums.

The sea lab welcomes school student tours, research students, and professionals to use their resources for fieldwork and projects.

Exterior of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Abductive, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This public aquarium allows general visitors to learn more about life under the sea.

If you are on time, you can feed the stingrays and see the manta rays, nurse sharks, octopuses, and other fishes.

Located on Bienville Boulevard, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab also holds free seminars to educate people about ecological issues.

Witness a Piece of History at Indian Shell Mound Park

The grounds of Indian Shell Mound Park

Jeffrey Reed, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Indian Shell Mound Park is a unique spot located on top of Native American shell mounds.

The tale goes that the shells are the remains of the Native Americans’ seafood meals.

The mounds were formed between 900 and 1500 BC, when the Native Americans congregated to cook oysters together during winters.

Signage of Indian Shell Mound Park

Jeffrey Reed, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Indian Shell Mound Park also hosts several rare plants and herbs planted for medicinal purposes.

The Coastal Birding trail is located here, making it a haunt for bird lovers.

Visitors can write the names of the birds they saw on the little whiteboard outside the park entrance.

This park can be found on Desoto Drive.

A tree at Indian Shell Mound Park

Jeffrey Reed, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Make Your Way to Cadillac Square

Cadillac Square, located at East Bienville Boulevard, is a wooded area with beautiful old oak trees.

This site was the home of Governor Cadillac, the first governor of Dauphin Island.

The house no longer exists, but the park is still there and thriving.

It has morphed into a pleasant picnic spot with tables and benches.

Cadillac Square also hosts several festivals and gatherings.

A 16.5-mile trail runs along Bienville Boulevard.

Visitors can rent or get their own bikes and use the bike path.

Embark on a Trip from Dauphin Island Marina

Aerial view of Dauphin Island Marina

George Dodd III /

Dauphin Island Marina offers complete assistance to experience fun at sea.

Located at the foot of the Dauphin Island Bridge on Lemoyne Drive, the marina offers everything you need to conduct a boating trip or expedition.

They provide all types of fleets for deep-sea fishing or cruising along the shoreline.

Visitors can refuel, oil, get equipment or bait, and grab a bite at Dauphin Island Marina.

Go Fishing at Cedar Point Pier

If fishing is your idea of having a good time, Dauphin Island can entertain you endlessly.

Cedar Point Pier is the longest fishing pier on the island and can accommodate you and your chums.

Get a chair, settle for the day, and enjoy the view while waiting for a passing fish to get curious.

You won’t have to wait long as the water is teeming with fish.

Visitors can get fishing paraphernalia, snacks, and bait for the fish, all from the store nearby.

Cedar Point Pier is located on Dauphin Island Parkway.

Swing Your Clubs at One of Dauphin Island’s Golf Courses

The Isle Dauphine Golf Course is one of the island’s most scenic golf courses with a spectacular beach view.

Golf enthusiasts can leisurely observe professionals playing and unwind by playing a game or two at this course on Orleans Drive.

If mini-golf is more up your alley, head to Island Golf on De Soto Avenue for the afternoon.

Take the Kids to West End Beach

One of Dauphin Island’s two beaches, West End Beach is located at the west point of the island.

The beach offers basic amenities like shower rooms and comfort rooms.

You can spend the day having a picnic on the sand or making sandcastles with your kids.

Children will also love the available waterslide.

West End Beach is located on Dauphin Island Parkway.

Spot Wildlife at the Goat Tree Reserve

Located on Cadillac Avenue, the Goat Tree Reserve is one of many bird sanctuaries on the island.

It gets its name from the ancient oak trees whose branches extend far from the trunk, almost parallel to the ground.

According to folklore, the trees served as a shelter for the island’s wild goats and kept them safe from the alligators.

Unfortunately, the goat population is no longer there—the trees host several birds, warblers, herons, and vireos, making the Goat Tree Reserve a favorite among birdwatchers.

Admire the Art at the Dauphin Island Heritage and Arts Gallery

To see more island treasures, head to the Dauphin Island Heritage and Arts Gallery, which houses art pieces done by local artists.

The gallery is hard to miss, with a small lighthouse attached to the building.

Dauphin Island Heritage and Arts Council (DIHAC) is a non-profit organization striving to promote and preserve art forms that are endemic to the island community.

They regularly hold painting classes for kids and adults, community theater, and musical productions.

DIHAC hosts regular art fundraisers to support their community, promote art and educate people about its value.

The Dauphin Island Heritage and Arts Gallery is located on Bienville Boulevard.

Have a Picnic at the Dauphin Island Pier

Daytime view of the Dauphin Island Pier

travelview /

The picturesque, 850-foot-long Dauphin Island Pier used to be a popular fishing spot.

With the recent migration of Pelican Island merging with the public shoreline, the pier is now on dry land.

Front view of Dauphin Island Pier

travelview /

Due to its rustic setting, the structure has been reutilized as a picnic and sightseeing spot.

The Dauphin Island Pier is located on Bienville Boulevard.

Participate in Dauphin Island’s Exciting Festivals

Dauphin Island spices things up with several festivals and parades throughout the year.

After the 4th of July festivities, the island descends on the coast for the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo.

Yes, it is as wild and competitive as it sounds.

The Mardi Gras celebrations are also big, with bright parades and floats and crowds gathering at Bienville Boulevard for a day on the town.

Wind Down with a Beer at Pelican Pub

After a day of exploring the island, you are bound to feel drained and craving something cool and fresh.

Pelican Pub will restore your energy with a refreshing beer and delicious dishes.

A favorite among locals and visitors, the pub is loved for its excellent staff and food.

Pelican Pub is located on De Soto Avenue.

Enjoy Authentic Mexican Cuisine at Miguel’s Beach’n Baja

Feast on Miguel’s Beach’n Baja’s spicy tacos, filling burritos, and all other Mexican wonders after a day of exploring the island’s nooks and crannies.

The joint is a popular food place and is a staple for many locals.

All food is made on the same day, ensuring freshness.

Miguel’s Beach’n Baja is located on Lemoyne Drive.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Lighthouse Bakery

Lighthouse Bakery is a charming place that offers delicious baked goods, perfect for those with a sweet tooth.

The huge cinnamon rolls are tasty and double as a filling breakfast.

The bakery also does special spin-offs for the festivals, the most popular being the king cakes they make for the Mardi Gras parades.

Their savory options are also worth trying.

You can find Lighthouse Bakery on Chaumont Avenue.

Try Southern Cuisine at Pirate’s Bar & Grill

Pirate’s Bar & Grill serves Southern cuisine and seafood in a casual waterfront setting featuring beverages and a patio area.

Their expertly prepared half-pound hamburgers are all made to order and piled high with mouth-watering toppings.

Only fresh seafood from the gulf is served.

Everything is prepared from scratch, and only natural ingredients are used in their kitchen.

Nothing is readily cooked or pre-breaded.

Pirate’s Bar and Grill is located on Orleans Drive.

Ride a Boat with Captain Mike’s Fishing

In the 1970s, Captain Mike Thierry discovered his passion for charter fishing.

On Captain Mike’s Fishing’s first-rate, lovely, spotless boats, they work hard to capture guests with lots of huge fish and give everyone a fantastic time.

They arrange for luxury boats with air conditioning, satellite radio, DVD players, flat-screen televisions, microwaves, hot showers, clean restrooms, and coffeemakers.

They can hold up to 38 individuals, and big group prices are available.

You may book fishing expeditions at Captain Mike’s Fishing for lengths ranging from four hours to three days.

This fishing charter is located on Lemoyne Drive.

Have a Soothing Massage at Dauphin Island Massage

The staff at Dauphin Island Massage assists people in finding balance through personal well-being.

They make an effort to facilitate their clients in taking an active role in their healing processes.

With the aid of their qualified massage therapist, explore the relationship between the body and mind.

Numerous soothing, holistic services are offered, including Swedish massages, reflexology, hot stone massage, facials, exfoliating salt scrubs, and more.

Treat yourself to a pamper day at Dauphin Island Massage on Audubon Street.

Organize a Water Excursion with FinAtics Fishing Charters

FinAtics Fishing Charters can help you organize a memorable Dauphin Island fishing charter experience.

They are headquartered on East Lemoyne Drive and offer the greatest charter boats and marine fishing experts to transport you to several of the island’s top saltwater fishing spots.

Families will like the welcoming atmosphere that their operators provide.

For the whole family, FinAtics Fishing Charters offers thrilling and productive inshore, nearby island, and deep sea fishing excursions adventures off the coast of Dauphin Island.

This fishing charter provides a large selection of offshore watercraft, alongshore center-console boats, and boats for fly fishing to suit whatever fishing trip you could be interested in.

Grab Fresh Fish at Skinners Seafood

Skinners Seafood has been a family-run business since 2004.

It is ideally located on Bienville Boulevard, in the center of Dauphin Island.

They provide ready-made food in their freezer area, including sausages, crab, crawfish, and desserts.

If you want to order healthy and heavy meals, Skinners Seafood offers fresh vegetables and steaks.

They have a wide selection of seasonings for sale, as well as styrofoam coolers and ice.

Final Thoughts

The beaches on Dauphin Island are among the finest in the state due to their pure white sand and crystal-clear waters.

Thanks to its bridge connection to the land and daily ferry service connecting the town and other municipalities, Dauphin Island is very accessible.

For a trip during the summer, it is unquestionably a must-see tourist destination!

To ensure an amazing experience, use this list of the best things to do in Dauphin Island, Alabama.

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