Dauphin Island
Credit: Stephen Saks Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Alabama may be best-known as a state with significant historic landmarks (Huntsville was the birthplace of America’s space program, for example, while the civil rights movement has deep roots in Montgomery).

But many travelers often don't realize that a small stretch of the state is white-sand coastline. The southernmost edge of Alabama disappears into the warm, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Whether you're taking a road trip though the American South or you're a local Alabamian looking for an easy getaway, don't forget about these sandy shores. Add these often overlooked beaches to your must-see list on your trip to the Cotton State.

Gulf Shores Public Beach

This stretch of shoreline is one of the most popular beach destinations in Alabama, and it’s no wonder why. Visitors can enjoy six miles of white sand and crystal blue ocean water that (during the summer months), maintains a bathtub-warm temperature.

Gulf Shores, the eponymous little beach town, is also well-loved for its thriving seafood scene. The National Shrimp Festival is held here every fall, and during random "jubilees," visitors can pick fresh crabs, fish, and shrimp straight from the beach.


Dauphin Island Public Beach

With 14 miles of unspoiled land, it’s no wonder that this beach has become a little-known alternative to the more popular beach towns of Florida. Only accessible by bridge or ferry, Alabama's laid-back Dauphin Island has everything you could want from a beach destination: colorful beach bungalows, family-run seafood restaurants, and even a bird sanctuary. It’s also the only pet-friendly beach in the region, so you can finally bring Fido along with you on your summer vacation.

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Beach

This beach, aptly translated from French to mean "safe harbor," is a sanctuary for flora and fauna native to the land. With more than 7,000 acres of wildlife habitat, you’ll find endless creatures inhabiting the area, including the Loggerhead turtle and endangered Alabama beach mouse.

For many, Bon Secour is less a place to park your beach chair and more about experiencing this protected sliver of Alabama. You’re welcome to take a dip in the waters and relax here, but visitors are urged to keep in mind that Bon Secour, is first and foremost a habitat for species who call this beach their home.