A quintessential site is the row of pastel fishing cottages lining Dauphin Island Parkway; their comical signage adds more character. Photos by Major Adam Colbert
The once-endangered brown pelican has experienced a resurgence in recent years thanks to environmental group efforts to protect the Gulf bird.
The 850-foot pier at the Dauphin Island Public Beach once reached out to the water. Today, due to the shift of Pelican Island which has conjoined with the public beach, the structure is surrounded by sand. It does, however, offer an easier trek to the shoreline.
Colorful vacation rental properties dot the island. It’s no wonder, as the area has been deemed the “Sunset Capital of Alabama.”
On the interior of the island, quiet, scenic woods are home to a multitude of species of birds as the island is the last land respite for a plethora of migratory feathered friends traveling to and from South America. At the island’s Indian Shell Mound Park, a site on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, visitors can also find a slew of prehistoric bivalve shells left over from Native American oyster roasts and dating from the Mississippian Period (1100 – 1550 A.D.). A gargantuan oak thought to be more than 800 years old makes its home among the archeological relics.
In true laid-back style, many of the cottages feature whimsical curb appeal with a decidedly beachy vibe, such as this seashell-covered mailbox. Only approximately 1,300 residents occupy the quiet, 14-mile-long, secluded island.
Dauphin Island is beloved for its thriving saltwater fishing scene. A&A Bait lists its address on its Facebook page: “on the water behind the ferry and snack shop.” In fact, no other directions are needed. Anybody who has spent any length of time on the island knows the spot. What they may not know is that the shack is the place to buy live shrimp and croakers that are sure to attract a grandiose catch. The shop opens well before daylight, at 4 a.m. on weekends and 4:30 a.m. on weekdays, when the island’s most devoted fishermen put in at the dock.
Dauphin Island has an incredibly rich history. The shores have seen the arrival of the first French settlers, felt the aggression of pirate raids during the early 18th century and heard the yell of U.S. Adm. David Farragut’s famous words, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” during the Civil War’s Battle of Mobile Bay.
Dauphin Island beaches offer sugary white sands for as far as the eye can see. In comparison to other waterfront tourist destinations, Dauphin Island has managed to keep high-rise condominium growth to a minimum.
Quaint hand-painted signs greet visitors just over the bridge inviting them to JT’s Sunset Grill and its upstairs bar, Pelican Pub. The casual local favorite is known for its fresh seafood (try the fish tacos), classic burgers and spectacular waterfront views.