Words by Louisa Martin
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach together provide 32 miles of sugar-white sand beaches to enjoy. With a handful of various public beach access points, regardless of where you are on the AL Coast, it’s easy to find the beach! Whether it is a peaceful walk at sunset or an action-packed day, the beaches provide the perfect escape in any season. The mesmerizing scenery, white quartz sand and ice blue water will make you wonder if you are still in Alabama.
If you feel a bit more adventurous, consider paddleboarding, canoeing, or kayaking down the Coastal Alabama Back Bay Blueway. Here, adventurers get an up-close exploration of the nooks of the Alabama Gulf Coast. Along the Blueway, there are 21 launch sites and four separate trails, Fort Morgan Trail, Little Lagoon Trail, Gulf State Park Trail, and Orange Beach Trail. Paddlers will experience swamps, freshwater lakes, and other hidden scenic treasures during their trip, not to mention the arm workout.
Speaking of a workout, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have endless opportunities for hiking lovers. Bon Secour National Wildlife refuge is home to endangered habitats like migratory songbirds and multiple sea turtle species. But more than the exciting wildlife you might encounter, Bon Secour has miles of trails composed of all types of landscape. This spot has four different paths encapsulating diverse terrain such as dunes, swales, wetlands, maritime forests and scrub habitats. With more than 28 miles of trails, the next hiking location you should hit is Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. Because of the 26 different paved trails that Gulf State Park offers, this is the prime place to bike, rollerblade, walk, or run.
Because of the stretching shorelines of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, it is no surprise that fishing proves a popular pastime for coastal visitors. Depending on the season and the different active fish, there is always an opportunity for action. There are dozens of local marinas and charter services, so each angler can find a course that matches their fancy, either inshore or offshore. Plus, once you have secured your catch of the day, use a local restaurant to prepare it for you to enjoy, because you can.
Before Orange Beach was nominated as one of the ultimate fishing towns in America, the boating opportunities still proved a major attraction. If you have a boat, bring it! If not, there are plenty of spots willing to rent. Whether you are in it for fishing or simply the ocean views, you won't regret boating in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
If an ocean view isn't enticing enough, consider snorkeling! With miles of crystal clear waters, the only thing keeping you from experiencing marine life face-to-face is a snorkeling mask and a pair of fins. Plan your excursion with any of the local dive shops located in both Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. In the spring and summer months, the water is 82 degrees and the wildlife from the likes of pinfish, horseshoe crabs, mollusks, algae, minnows, butterflyfish, sea turtles, damselfish will not disappoint.
7. Sunset Cruises
Need I say more? Here lies a chance to see dolphins, among other marine spectacles, up close. Regardless of the reason, enjoy the ride. There are sunset cruises for a romantic date night, a much-needed girls’ trip, nature lovers, family fun or a relaxing getaway. When booking your trip, check out the dozens of boating rental services Orange Beach and Gulf Shores have to offer.
The ultimate nature fix for an outdoor lover is found at Gulf State Park. Besides the various activities this park offers, Gulf State has a campground able to host both RVs and tents. The call to the outdoors doesn't end at the campground; however, the park has a swimming pool, volleyball, and tennis courts. Beyond the campground, there is also the Outpost. Here, there are covered tents on platforms. Only one and a half miles from the beach, these campsites provide the perfect window to the outdoors.