The Alabama Gulf Shores is the perfect place for a vacation in the sun, even though there are only 53 miles (607 by the NOAA) of coastline. The top beach towns in the state attract retirees, young families, and tourists because of their year-round pleasant temperatures and stunning white sand beaches.
Alabama’s beachfront is a wonderful area to go if you want to avoid the crowds and yet enjoy the Gulf. This region is also very affordable and a stellar place to house hunt if you are considering relocating to the coastal south.
Here’s a look at the top beach towns in Alabama to live and visit, in no particular order:
Gulf Shores, AL
Gulf Shores is the quintessential Alabama beach town, with miles of sandy shoreline, a bustling neighborhood right on the coast, and a wide variety of convenient services. As a great area to live, work and play, this beachfront community is one of the most visited in the state.
About 15,014 people permanently call Gulf Shores home as of the 2020 census. There are a lot of festivals and events in this part of the Alabama Gulf Coast, like the Hangout Music Festival and the National Shrimp Festival.
Vacationers who prefer to avoid staying in a hotel but want to be close to restaurants and activities can book one of the many available condos. When you’re looking for a quieter stretch of beach away from the bars and tourist traps, go a few miles west to the Fort Morgan Peninsula.
The town’s main beach is always clean, and where many water-based excursions, including parasailing, scuba diving, and dolphin-watching cruises, depart. Take a walk on the sandy beach before dawn to avoid the crowds and see the local fisherman and animals enjoying the tide.
A theater, ramps, paths, green spaces, wheelchair-accessible mats, and changing rooms have been added to the beach area. When strolling along the Gulf State Park Pier, keep an eye out for the pelicans that vie with the local fishermen for catches.
Orange Beach, AL
Orange Beach is a tiny settlement on the Gulf Coast and a popular destination for water sports and fishing. Though ideal for weekend trips, the area also has several features that make it appealing as a permanent residence, such as a friendly local community.
According to the 2020 census, there were 8,095 people living in the town, giving it a nice small-town feel and a slower pace of life. If you need a break from the sand, schedule a round of golf, rent a bike or kayak, go on a dolphin-watching excursion, or hike the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail.
Bird Island, Robinson Island, Gilchrist Island, and Walker Island make up the Orange Beach Islands and are popular destinations for residents and tourists looking for a good time. These four islands may be reached within a few short minutes of each other, typically by boat or kayak.
With its miles of white, powdery sand, Orange Beach is among the best beaches in this area. Beachgoers like lounging in the sun, and from May to October, the region is a great place to see sea turtles laying eggs. It’s possible to reach the bays and bayous north of Perdido Pass through the seashore. The Indian and Sea Museum, located on the pier, explains the area’s history and draws many visitors.
Fairhope is a fantastic weekend destination on the bay’s eastern side. About 22,477 permanent residents (as of the 2020 census) make up this community, commonly referred to by many as “the most walkable town in Alabama”.
Everywhere you go in Fairhope, you’ll be able to take in a breathtaking view of Mobile Bay since the city is built on a series of bluffs. This village was founded in 1894 and is known for its lively arts scene, recreational trails, and fun activities for the whole family.
It’s a nice spot to settle down permanently, with all the flower-lined streets, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and delicious local restaurants. Stroll among groves of moss-covered oak trees and take in the beauty of the setting sun over Mobile Bay in this historic and charming town.
Although Fairhope is surrounded by water, there are only a couple of small, but lovely beaches where residents can enjoy the ocean, sand, and sunsets. The North Beach and Orange Street Pier Beach are two of the city’s best-kept secrets, and both are perfect for picnics and water sports. Restrooms are available, and the beach itself is spotless.
Between these two shores lies the Fairhope Municipality Pier, a great spot to take photos and look out into the bay.
Dauphin Island, AL
The “Sunset Capital of Alabama”, Dauphin Island, stretches for 14 miles off the state’s southern coast. The laid-back restaurants and small shops on the island give it a cozy feel that visitors and future residents will love.
The first known European to visit the island was the Spanish explorer Alonso Alvarez de Pineda in 1519. This beautiful beach village (with a population of 1,778 as of the 2020 census) is a great place to put roots down in retirement.
Dauphin Island is known for its breathtaking beaches, but it also has other family-friendly activities, including the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. When you and your group need a rest from the sand and surf, go to Island Golf, where even novice golfers will have a good time.
Dauphin Island, about three miles south of Mobile Bay, is a gorgeous destination with crystal-clear water and soft, white sand. A bridge links it to the rest of Alabama, and ferries go back and forth between the island and the mainland. East End Beach has some of the most incredible views of the Gulf. You might also spend the day collecting shells at West End Beach.
Seeing the “Heart of Dixie’s” stunning natural beauty is as easy as visiting any of the state’s best beach towns. Grab a towel and see what the Alabama coast is all about.