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on the beach
Alabama's Gulf Coast offers some 32 miles of inviting,
sugar-white, sandy beaches that front the emerald waters
of the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike some of the crowded vacation
spots to the east (Fort Walton Beach, Destin and Panama
City, Florida), Pleasure Island's wide beaches
offer perfect spots for quiet relaxation or group gatherings.
Many public access points to beaches are available
around the island and in the seaside towns of Gulf Shores
and Orange Beach, making this enriched coastline a natural
treasure for all to enjoy. Many visitors come to swim,
dive, sunbathe, surf, fish or just explore our
shore and the distinctive sand dunes. Others simply
enjoy sunrises, sunsets, and evening strolls watching
sandpipers, seagulls, and sand crabs. Collectors bring
a pail and shovel to dig for seashells.
We hope you also will take the time to experience this
precious natural resource. But be sure to avoid trampling
the precious sea oats and grasses that make our local
beaches so inviting. These ecologically important beach
plants trap wind-blown sand and provide stability to
the beautiful dunes so that other plants can colonize.
Sea oats get their name from their large plumes that
are produced during the summer, making the plant resemble
the oats grown for food. The renowned Gulf Islands
National Seashore on Perdido Key is a very beautiful
beach, and worth a day trip to swim or just explore
the dunes. It is especially beautiful at dawn and dusk.
Native grasses and sea oats,
left, are important plants that
help stabilize the beautiful
Gulf Coast beaches and dunes,
which are constantly eroded
by wind and waves.
Beaches - Gulf Shores
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Beach
Primarily consisting of mesmerizing sand dunes in a
natural state, this beach is off the beaten path, and
considered a natural habitat for two endangered species
nesting sea turtles (May through October) and
the tiny Alabama beach mouse. It also is a popular stop
on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. The Refuge entrance
is on Highway 180, nine miles west of Highway 59 and
the office is staffed daily, except weekends and holidays.
Access to the 300-acre beach is by foot, and requires
a short hike from a small paved parking lot.
Gulf State Park
This 6,150-acre state park offers beaches on the Gulf
of Mexico, and a 144-room beachfront resort hotel with
restaurants, meeting and convention facilities. An 18-hole
course attracts golfers and fishing is available on
an 825-foot pier in The Gulf or from the shore of a
500-acre freshwater lake, where canoes also can be rented.
If that's not enough, a campground and cabins also are
available, set amidst gorgeous nature trails and exhibits.
It is located at 20115 State Highway 135. See some of
the park facilities, below.
Gulf State Park Beach Pavilion
This large beach and state park provides a pavilion,
picnic tables, showers and a refreshment stand. Each
summer season (May through Labor Day), lifeguards are
on duty. The beach entrance is located on Highway 182,
six miles east of Highway 59, parking is available for
a small fee.
Gulf State Park Picnic Area
This 25-acre park offers visitors swimming, water skiing,
boating, boat rental, playgrounds, a snack bar, bathhouse
and over 100 picnic tables, set amidst froves of mature
trees. Fishing license are sold at this site. A small
admission fee is charged. Located just off Highway 182.
Gulf State Park Romar Beach
Four-acres of white, sandy beaches, dunes and native
grases with paved parking. Located on Highway 182, five
miles east of Highway 59.
The Gulf Shores Public Beach
at sunset, with condominiums
and hotels in the background.
The beach is popular with families,
who like to swim, sunbathe, fish or
dig for prized shells. Volleyball and
picnic tables are available, and
beachfront restaurants are nearby.
Gulf Shores Public Beach
Sometimes called the Main Beach in Gulf Shores. Over
1,700 feet of expansive, Gulf front beaches and a boardwalk
entice visitors to the heart of the city of Gulf Shores.
Three open-air pavilions, restrooms, dressing rooms,
showers, water fountains, a picnic area and paved parking
are available, although a small entrance fee is charged
during the summer. Many small shops, restaurants and
amusements are just off the beach. Located at the intersection
of Highway 59 and Highway 182 in Gulf Shores.
Gulf Shores Public Beach Access Points
Several access points to the Gulf Shores Public Beach
are maintained by the city.
Second Street Access
Located on Highway 182 two blocks west of Highway 59,
this site offers parking and walking access to Gulf
Shores Public Beach.
Fourth Street Access
Highway 182 four blocks west of Highway 59. This access
point is via a pedestrian crossing.
Fifth Street Access
Highway 182 five blocks west of Highway 59. Walking
beach access across a 200-foot boardwalk. An outdoor
shower and benches are available.
Sixth Street Access
Located on Highway 182 six blocks west of Highway 59.
Walking beach access across a 100-foot boardwalk. An
outdoor shower and benches are available.
13th Street Access
Located on Highway 182, 13 blocks west of Highway 59.
Walking beach access across a boardwalk. An outdoor
shower, benches and restrooms are available. Parking
is across the street.
A hungry seagull catches a baitfish in the
calm surf along Orange Beach.
Lagoon Pass is a shallow waterway connecting Little
Lagoon on the middle of the island with the Gulf of
Mexico. A handicap-accessible restroom, water fountain
and outdoor shower are available. On Highway 182 at
Lee Callaway Bridge, two miles west of Highway 59. Parking
is on the north side of the bridge.
Two children prepare
to enter Gulf waters
along a private section
of beach near
The Admirals Quarters
and Palms condominiums.
One girl turns cartwheels
in anticipation, while another
receives careful instructions
from a doting mom.
Cotton Bayou Public Beach
A small beach area with paved parking, but no facilities.
Located on Highway 182 at the intersection of Highway
Perdido Point Public Beach
Also known as Alabama Point, this 6000-foot public beach
is located at the Perdido Pass Inlet which separates
Pleasure Island from Perdio Key. It lacks conveniences
such as restroom facilities, but it offers white sandy
beaches, interesting, large dunes, a 225-foot boardwalk,
and a view of the boats moving in and out of the Gulf.
The beach is located on Highway 182, just east of the
Perdido Pass Bridge.
Beaches - Mainland, Perdido Key
Big Lagoon State Park (Florida)
12301 Gulf Beach Highway
Big Lagoon State Park is located east of Pleasure
Island on the Florida mainland, 10-miles southwest
of Pensacola. This 712-acre park fronts on the Big Lagoon,
a saltwater bay that also forms part of the northern
boundary of Perdido Key and the Gulf Islands
National Seashore (see below). The sandy beaches
and salt marshes bordering Big Lagoon are valuable wetlands:
the marshes are home to gray-foxes, raccoons, skunks
and opossums and great blue herons, cardinals, towhees,
brown thrashers and nuthatches also can be seen. The
park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year.
The entrance fee into most parks is $3.25-$4.00 per
car, up to eight people; walk-ins, and bicyclists are
$1.00 per person. Pets are permitted in designated day-use
areas, must be on a leash. They are not permitted on
beaches or playgrounds, or in bathing areas, cabins,
park buildings, or concession facilities.
The Gulf Island
beaches are a perfect
place to find a few
moments of solitude
Gulf Islands National Seashore/Johnson Beach
Johnson Beach, Florida
Perdido Key, to the east of Pleasure Island,
is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore,
a network of eleven barrier islands stretching along
150 miles of the Gulf from Mississippi to Santa Rosa
Island in Florida. Surrounded by sparkling blue waters
and magnificent snowy-white beaches, the eastern end
of the Perdido Key also is home to Johnson Beach.
The sand dunes, sea oats and native fauna of the National
Seashore land is nurtured in a pristine, natural condition
by the U.S. Park Service. The remains of old Fort McRee
are near the eastern tip of the island, which marks
the entrance to Pensacola Bay from the Gulf. You can
look across to historic Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa
Island. Built on the early 1800's this brick fortification
remained in Union Army hands through the entire Civil
War. Entrance fees to the Gulf Islands National Seashore
for hikers and bicyclists are $3; private, non-commercial
vehicles require an $8 fee, but both passes are good
for seven days. See a panoramic view of the seashore
using the Specials link, above.