7 Beautiful Alabama Beaches You Cannot Miss

If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely been let in on one of the South’s best-kept secrets – Alabama beaches are incredible!

It is true. The Alabama coast and barrier islands are home to some of the most beautiful sugar-white sand beaches along the U.S. coast. We hit ALL of the beaches, and we are sharing what we saw to help you plan an unforgettable vacation or holiday along the Gulf of Mexico. Below are the 7 top beaches in Alabama you don’t want to miss (based on our personal experience)!


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Alabama Beaches

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Our favorite beach in Orange Beach – Alabama Point East

If you’re looking for fabulous beach destinations with fewer crowds, you’re in the right place. We are sharing Alabama beaches you cannot miss on your next vacation or holiday.

We also share where the beach is located, the overall vibe, and if the beach is dog friendly.

We hope this helps you plan your next epic beach vacation in Alabama.

Best Time to Visit Alabama

We share our personal experience visiting all of the beaches below during May.

We think May is a great time to visit Alabama. The temperatures are warm enough to be in shorts and a bathing suit, but cool enough where you aren’t dripping in humidity sweat. The water is fairly warm too!

AND…There seem to be fewer crowds in May!

Alabama Beaches Map

Best Alabama Beaches

Let’s kick off our recommendations for the 7 Alabama beaches you need to add to your next Alabama road trip, vacation or holiday.

There are a few areas we are dying to share, so let’s get to it!

Dauphin Island Beaches

When most people plan a beach vacation in Alabama, they are thinking about the Gulf Shores area. But have you heard of Dauphin Island?

Dauphin Island is a barrier island south of Mobile. It is accessible via the Gordon Pearsons Bridge or the Mobile Bay Ferry from Fort Morgan.

Dauphin Island boasts 7-miles of sugar-white sand public beaches, with minimal crowds. That is right. We visited in May, and there were NO CROWDS.

Sound like your kind of place? Then, you don’t want to miss the beaches below!

Dauphin Beach

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Great Blue Heron fishing on Dauphin Beach sandbar
  • Overall Vibe: Miles of beach, plenty of space for people to spread out
  • Sand: White, sugar-sand, soft on the feet
  • Water: The water is clear, the beach is tucked back into a cove, and there is a sandbar, so the water is calm. The water is excellent for swimming.
  • Parking: Pay to park – there is a large parking area and neat boardwalk to access the beach.
  • Dog friendly: Yes

West End Beach

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Dauphin Island West End Beach
  • Overall Vibe: Miles and miles of beach. There is no development past the parking area. Some locals said alligators have even been spotted further west down the island because it is so rural. But don’t let that discourage you! We didn’t see one alligator the entire trip (we looked and looked)!
  • Sand: Bright white sugar-sand, soft on the feet
  • Water: The water is clear blue; there can be more waves depending on how the wind is blowing
  • Parking: Pay to park – large parking area
  • Dog friendly: No pets allowed

East End Beach

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Dauphin Island East End Beach
  • Overall Vibe: Miles of beach. The dunes are protected in this area for nesting sea turtles and shorebirds. In addition, the beach is within walking distance of the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and Dauphin Island Campground.
  • Sand: White, sugar-sand, soft on the feet
  • Water: The water is not as clear and a little rougher (at least when we visited in May).
  • Parking: Yes, free, but there is not a large parking area.
  • Dog friendly: Yes

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Area

If you have heard that the beaches in Alabama are awesome, then you’re probably thinking about the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach areas!

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have been called the Riviera of the South.

The coast is lined with beautiful beaches. It is also a more touristy destination (but not quite the crowds like Destin or other Florida places). The area has high-rise condos, places to rent, local restaurants, and shopping. The main beach access points are right off of Perdido Beach Blvd. So, you don’t have to walk far to get to the beaches or the water.

Gulf State Park manages all of the points we recommend below. However, there are a few other access points (that we aren’t writing about) that don’t require Gulf State Park parking permits. We love state parks and spent most of our time at the four beaches below.

Gulf State Park Pavilion Beach

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Gulf State Park Pavilion Beach Area
  • Overall Vibe: The beach is located across from where visitors turn to camp at Gulf State Park. It has more crowds due to the amenities close by, such as the Pavilion and Interpretive Center. There are many people here on the weekends in May, but the crowds die down a bit during the week. The beach goes for miles, so there is lots of room to spread out.
  • Sand: White powdery sand, soft on the feet
  • Water: The water is emerald green, and there are pretty decent-sized waves depending on the weather and wind. The water can be calm or choppy, depending on the weather.
  • Parking: Pay to park, large parking lot
  • Dog friendly: No

Romar Beach Access – Gulf State Park

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Boardwalk to Romar Beach
  • Overall Vibe: The beach area is part of Gulf State Park on the southeast side of Perdido Beach Blvd. When we visited, there were fewer crowds than at the beach with the Pavilion. However, this beach starts to get closer to the condos, so there is more foot traffic.
  • Sand: Beautiful soft white sand up and down the coast of Alabama.
  • Water: As we said above, for the Pavilion beach, the water is emerald green, and there are pretty decent-sized waves depending on the weather and wind. The water can be calm or choppy here (weather dependent).
  • Parking: Pay to park, smaller parking lot.
  • Dog friendly: No

Cotton Bayou Beach Access – Gulf State Park

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Cotton Bayou Beach area
  • Overall Vibe: Not too far northeast of Romar Beach, Cotton Bayou Beach Access is part of Gulf State Park.
  • Sand: Soft, white, and beautiful!
  • Water: Same as Romar Beach and the Pavilion Beach area.
  • Parking: Pay to park, smaller parking lot.
  • Dog friendly: No

Alabama Point East Beach Access – Gulf State Park

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Alabama Point East Pablo swimming
  • Overall Vibe: Alabama Point East Beach is part of Gulf State Park as well. It is within the Orange Beach area (Orange Beach is a town, not a beach – we learned). There were way fewer people at this location when we visited.
  • Sand: The sand is amazing, like all the other Gulf State Park access points.
  • Water: The beach is more protected, so we experienced calmer waves than some of the other access points further southwest.
  • Parking: Pay to park, large parking area. There is shaded parking as well since there is a large bridge overhead.
  • Dog friendly: No

Best Beaches in Alabama

Below is a quick list of the 7 most beautiful beaches in Alabama!

  1. Dauphin Beach
  2. West End Beach
  3. East End Beach
  4. Gulf State Park Pavilion Beach
  5. Romar Beach Access – Gulf State Park
  6. Cotton Bayou Beach Access – Gulf State Park
  7. Alabama Point East Beach Access – Gulf State Park

Top Beaches in Alabama – Our 2 Favorites

If we had to pick one beach from Dauphin Island to visit, we would say not to miss Dauphin Beach. The water is just so calm; the area is tranquil and beyond beautiful. The sandbars jetting out from the mainland are fun to walk on and watch for wildlife as well.

As for Gulf Shores, when we visited, the waves were pretty large, but Alabama Point East was a relatively protected cove still allowing for swimming. Alabama Point East is our top pick for the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area. The water along Gulf Shores and Orange Beach was beautiful emerald green. We can’t wait to go back someday!

Safety: Be sure to be riptide aware and know the beach flag warning system while recreating along the coast. There are signs posted everywhere.

All of these beaches are incredible. We hope they inspire your Alabama beach vacation!

Ashlee & Pablo


Where are you headed next?

You might also enjoy our other articles about Alabama:

Dauphin Island

Shop Beach Gear!

Shop beach and road trip gear we love!

Beach Towel

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top photo: Dauphin Beach with Great Blue Heron fishing, middle photo: East End Beach at Dauphin Island Alabama, bottom photo: Gulf Shores beach with emerald green water in Alabama

We’d love to hear from you!

When are you going to Alabama?

If you have already been, what were your favorite Alabama beaches?

About The Author

Ashlee Fechino

I’m a travel and outdoor recreation writer with dreams to inspire happiness through an outdoorsy lifestyle. I want to help people live their best life by sharing free adventure guides. The USA has been my backyard most of my life, and it’s the place where you’ll find most of our escapades! I’m married to an expat Argentine, chihuahua Mom, and am passionate about the environment. I hold a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability. We camp in our Aliner often, love road trips, hiking, and SUP’ing!

12 COMMENTS

  1. Cristina Sala | 27th Jun 21

    Me encantaron las playa de Alabama.Y lo bueno que las hayan podido disfrutar ustedes .
    Abrazo enorme desde Pinamar Argentina

    • Ashlee Fechino | 1st Jul 21

      ¡Hola Cristina! Gracias por leer. ¡Nos encanta ver tus comentarios desde Pinamar! Ja ja. Las playas de Pinamar también son increíbles. ¡Te amamos!

  2. Emma | The Checklist Chic | 30th Jun 21

    THese all look like great beaches! And I love the details for parking and dog friendliness!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 1st Jul 21

      Hi Emma! We love to travel with our dog – and we think lots of other people do too! Glad you found the dog-friendly info helpful. Thanks for reading.

  3. Josy A | 30th Jun 21

    Beeeeautiful! I LOVE the look of all that pretty white sand, it all looks like a tropical island! Dauphin Beach with that view of a heron is just perfect!

    I honestly had no idea that Alabama’s beaches were so flipping pretty!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 1st Jul 21

      Hi Josy! Alabama is amazing! It was such a treat to visit for us too 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Ummi | Ummi Goes Where? | 1st Jul 21

    Based on your pictures and descriptions, I think I’d like the Gulf State Park Pavilion Beach best, because of the powdery sand and emerald green water. I wouldn’t mind the extra crowd. Thank you for this guide!

  5. Julia | 1st Jul 21

    I’ve heard of some of these but not others. Good to know for my next road trip that direction! I love checking out new beaches. (Particularly if they’re beautiful and not crowded!)

    • Ashlee Fechino | 1st Jul 21

      Awesome, Julia! Have a great trip next time you visit Alabama.

  6. Lekha C | 1st Jul 21

    I have always wanted to explore the southern coast. We recently visited beaches on Western coast of Florida and I couldn’t get enough of them. Great post!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 1st Jul 21

      Hi Lekha! You would have so much fun. Thank you for reading!

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