Showing posts with label What to Do. Show all posts
Showing posts with label What to Do. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

How Hot is Gulf Shores?

hot on the beach
According to official weather data providers, the average annual temperature in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach is 68.6° and ranges from 50.5° in the winter to 82.8° in the summer. Sounds great, right? Well, all that is true – BUT, by definition, those averages leave out the extremes and have little to do with when you are actually planning to visit Gulf Shores. Most people visit Gulf Shores between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which is the time when Gulf Shores experiences its hottest temperatures.

Here is the real story: In late May to late June you can expect it to be getting hot, but still pretty pleasant. You can count on having afternoon temperatures in the mid-to-high 80s with some humidity that makes it feel a bit warmer than that. In July and August, you can expect it to be MUCH hotter. Temps are generally in the high 90s and into triple digits with a level of humidity that makes it downright unbearable, even for locals who are used to it.

Here is some advice on how locals deal with it. First, locals go to the beach in the mornings, before it gets super-hot, or in the evenings, after it begins to cool down. It is tourists who sleep in, go out to breakfast, and lollygag around until afternoon to hit the beach. They’ll roast out there for a few hours, wondering how in the HELL anybody can stand it, and leave the beach for a shower and a nap around 4pm. Locals will start arriving around 5:30 or 6:00pm to enjoy the last couple of hours of sun as the temperature drops a couple of degrees every 30 minutes and the Gulf breezes begin to feel refreshing.

So, if you want to live more like a local while you are here, go to the beach in the morning around 8 or 9 am. Have some beach time for a couple of hours and then head back to get ready for lunch somewhere airconditioned and enjoy some live music and some drinks. Then go shopping or something – explore some airconditioned shops, scope out some new bars and restaurants you might like to go back to later, get a massage, or enjoy a dolphin cruise out on the water. Then, around 5:30pm when everybody else is leaving the beach all burned and exhausted, you can enjoy some more beach time on a much more comfortable and less crowded beach!

Check out these helpful links to plan your stay:

Where locals like to eat and drink

Things locals like to do

Places to shop

Great fishing charters

Local favorite golf courses

Take a moment also to review local advice about what to do, and NOT do, at Gulf Shores' public beaches.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Seashell Hunting in Gulf Shores | A Guide

Shelling in Gulf Shores, AL
Click to enlarge photo
Shelling is a favorite activity in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, attracting both residents and tourists alike. Nestled along the Gulf of Mexico, these beaches are a haven for a wide variety of shells. As a result, visitors can enjoy collecting a diverse selection along our shores. To help you make the most of your shelling experience, we've compiled essential tips and information.

What Kinds of Shells Might You Discover? The shells scattered across our beaches once served as protective homes for various mollusks such as clams, scallops, mussels, and oysters. These creatures lack a backbone and rely on their shells for support and safety.

Here are some typical shells you will encounter on Alabama’s beaches:

  • Angel Wing
  • Ark Clams
  • Ballast Stones
  • Common Egg Cockle
  • Florida Fighting Conch
  • Coquina Clams
  • Lettered Olive
  • Mermaid’s Purse
  • Moon Snails
  • Oyster Drill Snails
  • Oyster
  • Sand Dollars
  • Scallops
  • Snail Slipper
  • Surf Clams

Optimal Times for Shelling in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach The best shelling on the Alabama Gulf Coast often occurs early in the morning as the sun rises. Low tides and periods following stormy weather, which push shells onto the beach, also provide excellent opportunities. Shelling is a year-round activity here, enjoyable at any time and in any season.

Several public beaches are known for their rich shell deposits, often recommended by locals:

  • Alabama Point: Situated at the Perdido Pass Bridge, this beach spans 6,000 feet along the coastline within Gulf State Park and is ideal for shell collection. While it offers fewer amenities than other areas, it tends to be less crowded. Address: 28105 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561

  • Beach at Little Lagoon Pass: This spot where Little Lagoon meets the Gulf of Mexico features amenities such as restrooms and a fishing pier. It has paid parking available near the Lee Callaway Bridge and is known for its clear, shallow waters, making it excellent for shelling. Address: 1660 West Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores, AL 36542

  • Gulf State Park Beach: This beach offers a full day of activities with 2.5 miles of shoreline and plentiful amenities including a snack bar, restrooms, a pavilion, and shaded areas. Address: 22250 East Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores, AL 36542

  • Fort Morgan: Located on Mobile Point at the junction of the Gulf and Mobile Bay, this secluded beach is near the historic Fort Morgan. It's an excellent place for a combined historical and natural exploration. Address: Fort Morgan Road, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

These locations offer prime spots for shelling, each with its unique appeal and beauty. Whether you’re a seasoned shell collector or a first-timer, the shores of Alabama are sure to provide a memorable experience.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Top 10 Things to Do | Gulf Shores Locals' List

Gulf Shores Public Beach
Top 10 Things Locals Love
Gulf Shores goes far beyond just its beautiful beaches. Prepare for an unforgettable vacation with these 10 things locals love to do.

1. The Beach, of Course: Begin with the iconic Gulf Shores public beach, an oasis with miles of soft, powder-white sandy shoreline and soothing waves. Whether you prefer sunbathing, swimming, building sandcastles, or strolling along the shore, this beach beckons you back for more. For a more natural beach experience, explore the Gulf State Park Beach, surrounded by a wildlife haven with walking trails, picnic areas, and the public fishing pier.

2. Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge: A haven for nature lovers, Bon Secour, meaning “Safe Harbor” in French, is a sanctuary for migratory birds, sea turtles, and endangered species. Take a hike through pristine landscapes, marshes, and dunes to witness Mother Nature's wonders up close.

3. Dolphin Cruise: Embark on a thrilling dolphin cruise, where you can get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. Watch as they playfully leap and surf in the waves alongside the boat, creating unforgettable memories. There are numerous dolphin cruise providers departing from marinas at The Wharf, Bear Point, Sportsman's, and more. 

4. Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo: For family-friendly fun, visit the recently expanded Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, offering a variety of animals, interactive exhibits, and a safari-themed playground for the little ones. Lions, tigers, giraffes, and more await your discovery, along with a delicious African-themed restaurant.

5. Exciting Water Sports: Gulf Shores is a water lover's paradise, offering activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking, jet skiing, and parasailing. Feel the thrill as you glide across the water, making the most of your time in this coastal wonderland. You'll find many resources online for watersports rentals and activities.

6. Unwind at the Wharf: Experience a fusion of shopping, dining, and entertainment at The Wharf. This vibrant destination boasts boutique stores, delicious restaurants, and an amphitheater hosting year-round concerts and events. Don't miss the stunning Ferris wheel for an unparalleled view.

7. Tee Off at World-Class Golf Courses: Golf enthusiasts can rejoice in Gulf Shores, home to several top-notch golf courses designed by renowned architects. Practice your swing amid breathtaking landscapes, providing a unique golfing experience.

8. Saltwater Fishing: Gulf Shores is a fisherman's paradise, especially from May through August. Charter a trip with some of the most experienced Captains for the thrill of a lifetime, enjoy big-game fishing tournaments like the Blue Marlin Championship and the Billfish Classic where you can watch proud fishermen bring in their massive catches during public weigh-ins at The Wharf.

9. Eat like a Local: There are “touristy” restaurants and then there are the restaurants locals love. Plan to eat like a local with the help of this advice.

10. Day-trip to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab: During your stay, particularly if you have children with you, take a day trip on the Mobile Bay Ferry to Dauphin Island, where you can visit the Dauphin Island Sea LabThe drive-on ferry offers a 40 minute scenic ride across the scenic bay where you then drive off to visit the Sea Lab complete with interactive exhibits and touch tanks filled with fascinating sea creatures.

As we conclude our exploration of the best things in Gulf Shores, consider these additional "Honorable Mention" points of interest such as Fort Morgan for Civil War history buffs, the USS Alabama battleship in Mobile and the Pensacola Naval Air Station museum for Naval warfare enthusiasts.

Check out these additional helpful links to plan your stay:

Where locals like to eat and drink

Things locals like to do

Places to shop

Great fishing charters

Local favorite golf courses

Take a moment also to review local advice about what to do, and NOT do, at Gulf Shores' public beaches.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Easter in Gulf Shores | What to Do

Easter in Gulf Shores | What to Do
Wondering what to do for Easter in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach? There is an assortment of festivities spanning our beaches, resorts, and dining spots. From the iconic skydiving Easter Bunny at the Flora-Bama to breakfast encounters with the Easter Bunny at Tacky Jacks, and the tranquil sunrise service at The Hangout, residents and tourists are invited to come enjoy the holiday. With offerings ranging from classic egg hunts and creative crafts to delicious brunches and live entertainment, the week ahead promises a harmonious blend of enjoyment and tradition to celebrate Easter.

GULF SHORES

Gulf Shores hosts its annual Breakfast with the Bunny on March 23 at the Erie Meyer Civic Center at 8 a.m. Priced at $5, the breakfast includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, and bacon, with opportunities for photos with the Easter Bunny. The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo will also have a selection of animals on display.

GULF STATE PARK

From March 25 to 30, Gulf State Park presents the GoldenEggstravaganza, featuring hidden golden eggs throughout the park with redeemable prizes. Guests can register online for a chance to win the grand prize and participate in an Easter egg hunt at the campground amphitheater for children aged 10 and under at 9 a.m.

LULU’S AT HOMEPORT MARINA

At LuLu’s, adorned in tropical attire, the Easter Bunny will delight children on Easter Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. An exciting Easter EggDash, featuring over 6,000 hidden eggs throughout the complex, will commence at 1 p.m., with opportunities for memorable photo ops with the Easter Bunny.

FLORA-BAMA LOUNGE

Continuing its long-standing tradition, the Flora-Bama Lounge and Oyster Bar will host Easter services on the beach and the thrilling descent of the Easter Bunny fromthe skies on March 30, commencing festivities at 11 a.m. with kids' crafts and face painting. An exhilarating Easter egg hunt will kick off at noon on the beach, followed by the opportunity for snapshots with the Easter Bunny.

TACKY JACKS ORANGE BEACH

A beloved Gulf Coast establishment, Tacky Jacks Orange Beach invites guests to indulge in Breakfast on the Bayou with the Bunny on March 23 from 8 a.m. to noon. The event includes the lively Bunny Hop Dance party, arts and crafts, and complimentary photos with the Easter Bunny. Specials feature a choice of short stack or French toast sticks priced at $6.99. Registration is available via the provided link.

GTS ON THE BAY

Overlooking the waterfront, GTS on the Bay presents an Easter Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., featuring a tempting array of dishes such as eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine, pork loin, chicken fried steak, and shrimp and grits. Priced at $26 for adults, $13 for children aged six to 12, and $6 for those five and under, the brunch includes access to the salad bar, with additional offerings including sausage links, hashbrown casserole, and delightful desserts like lemon bread pudding with blueberry sauce.

COBALT THE RESTAURANT

Easter Brunch at Cobalt The Restaurant offers an enticing Easter buffet spread featuring prime rib, pork loin, shrimp and scallop cakes, lamb, and an omelet station. Side dishes include an assortment of vegetables, mac and cheese, roasted Brussels sprouts, grits, salads, and a delectable selection of desserts.

PERDIDO BEACH RESORT

Perdido Beach Resort invites guests to savor an Easterbrunch by the seaside, commencing at 11:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday. Priced at $48 for adults, $20 for children aged six to 12, and complimentary for children five and under, the brunch experience includes a seaside service at 10 a.m., a kids' crafting room from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., live music by Lisa Zanghi in Nancy's Lobby Lounge, and opportunities for photos with the Easter Bunny.

COASTAL ORANGE BEACH

Embark on a delightful meet-and-greet with the Easter Bunny on March 30-31 at Coastal Orange Beach, the Gulf Coast's newest beachfront dining destination. Additionally, on March 30, Sand Castle University will be on-site from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., offering expert tips and tricks for crafting impressive sand sculptures.

ZEKE’S RESTAURANT AND LANDING

Festivities at Zeke's Restaurant and Landing begin at 10 a.m. on Easter Sunday with a brunch featuring live music from noon to 4 p.m. AnEaster egg hunt, with a Hangout Fest ticket as the grand prize, is scheduled for 2 p.m., alongside opportunities for photos with the Easter Bunny from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

BEAR POINT EGG HUNT

On Saturday, March 30, the Easter Bunny will make a specialappearance at the Bear Point Community Association Community Center at 1 p.m., hosting an egg hunt for children aged 0-10. Prizes will be awarded for each age group, and refreshments will be provided for participants. Please ensure arrival by 12:30 p.m. for registration.

Photo by J. Triepke

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Spring Break 2024 Travel Guide


Spring Break 2024 Gulf Shores Orange Beach AL
Photo by Bill Sutton
Gulf Shores
/Orange Beach, Alabama stands out as a top spring break destination, drawing thousands of visitors with its extensive white sand shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico and pleasant springtime weather. Whether you seek adventure, history, culture, or relaxation, the Alabama Coast offers a diverse range of activities year-round, and spring is no exception.

Weather

Springtime along the Alabama Coast generally boasts near-perfect weather, with temperatures ranging from 75-80 degrees. Mornings and evenings can be cool, so it is advisable to bring clothing you can layer. Plus, springtime is not generally a rainy season for the area.

Essentials to Pack:

Layered clothing

Flip flops

Comfortable shoes

Light rain jacket

Beach necessities (sunglasses, sunscreen, swimsuits, etc.)

Outdoor Enjoyment

For active families or groups, spring is an optimal time to visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. With lower temperatures compared to summer and vibrant foliage, spring provides an excellent backdrop for exploration.

Parks and Trails to Explore:

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Gulf State Park

Wade Ward Nature Park

Alabama's Coastal Connection Scenic Byway

Eastern Shore Trail

Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

Spring Events & Festivals

Experience several notable annual events during spring:

Orange Beach Festival of Art: March 9-10, 2024

Annual Outdoor Art Show at the Eastern Shore Art Center: March 15-16, 2024

National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship: May 3-5, 2024

Orange Beach Billfish Classic: May 14-19, 2024

Photo Credit: Bill Sutton

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

New Year's Eve in Gulf Shores | Orange Beach |2023

New Year's Eve in Gulf Shores | Orange Beach | AL
The Wharf New Year's Eve
It’s time to make a New Year’s resolution that's both refreshing and easy to uphold this year. Begin by ushering in the New Year with a rejuvenating vacation in the picturesque Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

While things might be winding down in your locale, the New Year in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is just gearing up. Celebrate New Year's Eve and New Year's Day surrounded by sandy shores, crashing waves, and delectable food and drinks, setting the tone for a promising and inspirational start to the new year.

New Year's Eve at Live Bait in Orange Beach - Celebrate the New Year at Live Bait with live music, a mid-night countdown and a champagne toast. Club will be open with late night food and karaoke in the Tiki Bar.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LIVE BAIT'S NYE PARTY

Experience the 12th Annual Noon Year's Eve at LuLu's in Gulf Shores—an event filled with fun for both kids and adults. Engage in crafts, enjoy kid-friendly "fireworks" (made from bubble wrap), and participate in a lively sandcastle-building contest. When the clock strikes noon, witness a colorful beach ball drop, followed by live music, face painting, balloon animals, and more at LuLu's to kick off your New Year's celebration.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LULU'S NOON YEAR'S EVE

For a high-energy New Year's celebration, check out Reelin' in the New Year at The Wharf in Orange Beach. The carnival vibe comes alive with activities for kids, including bouncy houses, a mechanical bull, camel rides, rock climbing walls, face painting, and more. Top DJs provide the soundtrack, and live music sets the tone for a memorable New Year's Eve. Don't miss the epic fireworks display and the midnight Marlin Drop as the calendar turns.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WHARF NEW YEAR'S EVE

Experience Flora-Bama's Non-Stop New Year, where celebrations extend from New Year's Eve through New Year's Day. Enjoy the New Year's Eve Bash with an all-you-can-eat buffet, free breakfast sandwiches, complimentary champagne, cool party favors, souvenirs, and three stages of live music. The festivities continue with the Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip on New Year's Day, featuring a plunge into the Gulf of Mexico followed by a unique spread of ham, cornbread, black-eyed peas, and various sides.

LEARN MORE ABOUT FLORA-BAMA NEW YEAR'S EVE

Brave the Annual Kiwanis New Year's Day Polar Bear Dip starting at noon at The Hangout. Dry off and recharge with complimentary hot chocolate and chili, and join the after-dip party with live music, a customized New Year menu, football on the big screen, and Polar Bear Dip merchandise—all while supporting charitable donations to the Gulf Shores Kiwanis Club and Alabama Special Olympics.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NEW YEAR'S POLAR BEAR DIP

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Gulf Shores Lighted Boat Christmas Parade: Where to Watch

Gulf Shores Lighted Boat Parade | Where to Watch
Photo by LuLu's - Click to Enlarge
One of the coolest things we do here in Gulf Shores for the holidays is the annual lighted boat parade for Christmas. Local boat owners go all out rigging their boats with generators and tons of creative holiday lights for your enjoyment. The parade departs from LuLu’s in Gulf Shores and travels east down the Intracoastal Waterway to The Wharf in Orange Beach. This year’s parade starts at dusk on Saturday, December 9th.

The map below shows where the best viewing areas are, along the canal, with plenty of parking. Of course you can watch the parade leave from LuLu’s and arrive from The Wharf, where the whole place is lit up with Christmas lights and decorations, too.

Where to View Gulf Shores Lighted Boat Parade
Lighted Boat Parade Viewing Areas


Thursday, September 7, 2023

Jimmy Buffet Meeting of the Minds 2023

Parrot Heads at Meeting of the Minds Parrot Head Gathering
Parrot Heads
The annual Jimmy Buffet “Parrot Head Gathering,” also known as “Meeting of the Minds,” is coming to Gulf Shores, AL October 25-29. In the late 90s, Jerry Diaz and Scott Nickerson initiated this event in New Orleans. This year, Gulf Shores, where Jimmy spent his formative years on the beach and where is sister, Lulu, still runs the popular Lulu's restaurant & bar, will host a fantastic gathering of Parrot Heads celebrating Jimmy's life. Registration closes on September 15th, and you can find more information at www.MOTM.rocks

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

National Shrimp Festival | Dates and Times

Gulf Shores National Shrimp Festival
Credit: Gulf Shores CVB
Looking for an autumn getaway filled with seafood, music, art, and more? Look no further than the Gulf Shores Annual National Shrimp Festival, a four-day extravaganza that promises an unforgettable experience for all who attend. Whether you're a seafood lover, a music lover, an art lover, or simply someone in search of a fantastic time, this festival has something for everyone. Mark your calendars for October 12th through 15th, 2023, and get ready to indulge in a feast for the senses!

Seafood Galore: Indulge your taste buds in the freshest Gulf seafood at the Annual National Shrimp Festival. Drawing in over 300,000 visitors, this festival is a seafood lover's paradise. From succulent shrimp to a variety of other mouthwatering delights, the event showcases the finest culinary creations from 50 local and regional vendors. The boardwalk along the public beach transforms into a haven of flavors, where you can savor the Gulf's bounty while enjoying the breathtaking views.

Live Music: There will be over 100 hours of musical entertainment that will have you dancing and singing along. With a lineup featuring national, regional, and local acts, the festival caters to diverse musical tastes. From the soulful notes of blues and Motown to the energetic rhythms of southern rock and zydeco, and the timeless melodies of jazz and country, the musical variety is bound to resonate with every palate. The tunes will fill the air from Thursday through Sunday, ensuring that each day is infused with the magic of music.

Artistic Treasures: For those with an eye for art, the Annual National Shrimp Festival delivers a visual feast with nearly 200 booths of fine art and arts and crafts vendors. Stroll through the booths and discover a world of creativity, from captivating paintings to unique handcrafted pieces. Whether you're looking to add a special touch to your home or find the perfect gift, the array of artistic treasures is sure to captivate your imagination.

Save the Date: Make sure to reserve your spot at this year's Annual National Shrimp Festival, taking place from October 12th through 15th, 2023. Gather your friends and family, and get ready to immerse yourself in the ultimate celebration of Gulf seafood, music, art, and community. With each passing day of the festival bringing new experiences and memories, this is an event you won't want to miss. Embrace the fall vibes, relish in the flavors, and let the music and art sweep you off your feet. See you there!

WHERE TO STAY: Resorts or Hotels

OTHER THINGS TO DO

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Jellyfish | What Purple Flags at the Beach Mean

What Purple Flags at Beach Mean | Jellyfish
Click to enlarge photo
Wondering what the purple flags at the beach mean? It is a warning that “dangerous marine life” is present in the Gulf’s waves. While it could be any type of “dangerous marine life,” in Gulf Shores it almost always means jellyfish. Here’s some local advice on what you can do to best protect yourself, your kids, and the quality of your vacation.

While swimming or snorkeling in the Gulf can be a delightful experience, it's important to be aware of the risks associated with jellyfish stings. Jellyfish stings can range from mildly irritating to potentially life-threatening, depending on the species and an individual's sensitivity. Most jellyfish you may encounter are pretty mild as far as the level of pain experienced, and the duration of the pain. You may never see these jellyfish, because they are clear, snot-like creatures. You may not even feel the sting when it happens. Instead, you may just feel like a particular part of your body feels like a bad sunburn for several minutes to an hour or so.

On the other hand, if you see any jellyfish that is blue in color, stay away! If you see a blue jellyfish washed up on the beach, don’t touch it – and assume a few million more are still in the water. Blue jellyfish in this area are most often the Portuguese Man O' War, and believe me, they will ruin your day. The Portuguese Man O’ War causes intense pain, swelling, redness, and can even lead to systemic symptoms like difficulty breathing or nausea.

If you arrive for your vacation and see purple flags are flying, don't worry that you will have to pee on a family member to treat a jellyfish sting. This local recommends you find a nearby pharmacy and get Stingaway Jellyfish Treatment. It’s an over-the-counter treatment specifically designed to alleviate the symptoms of jellyfish stings. It comes in a “regular” jellyfish version and it also comes in a version for blue jellyfish stings. Might as well grab them both and keep them in your beach bag just in case. 

From the Stingaway website: This topical solution contains active ingredients that neutralize the venom, providing quick relief and preventing further harm. The application of Stingaway helps to alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and minimize the risk of secondary infections. It is important to note that Stingaway should be used in conjunction with seeking medical attention, particularly for severe or allergic reactions.

Having Stingaway with you at the beach might just save you a ruined beach day, or worse, a trip to the ER.



Thursday, July 13, 2023

Gulf Shores Jet Ski Rental

gulf shores jet ski rental
Click to enlarge photo
Imagine renting a fast, powerful jet ski to ride in this paradise for watersports enthusiasts seeking a thrilling experience. Whether you're a seasoned rider or a first-timer, a quick trip over to Orange Beach offers the perfect setting for an unforgettable jet skiing experience (the city of Gulf Shores has not issued any business licenses for jet ski rentals).

With its crystal-clear waters, thousands of square miles of bays filled with playful dolphins, and shorelines filled with great water-accessible bars and restaurants, Orange Beach provides the ideal playground for jet skiing. You can hop on your jet ski and feel the rush as you blast through the waves, wind in your hair and sun on your face, or go explore the intricate network of bays, lagoons, canals, and estuaries that cover the area, discovering private, hidden coves and islands to make your own for the day.

Whether you prefer to venture out on your own or to join a guided jet ski tour, there are options to suit every preference. Here is a listing of our recommended jet ski rental companies for your Gulf Shores/Orange Beach vacation.

Alabama Extreme Watersports, located at Bear Point Marina in Orange Beach, offers jet ski rentals and private Waverunner dolphin tours in beautiful Perdido Bay. It is an ideal location because not only is Perdido Bay a beautiful body of water, but Bear Point Marina is just across the bay from Pirate’s Cove, a legendary beach dive bar popular with locals for decades. A visit to Pirate’s Cove is a must-do while vacationing and the very best way (practically the only way) to get there is by water. Ask your jet ski rental attendant to point it out to you. In addition to Pirate’s Cove, Bear Point Marina itself offers a fun outdoor bar and sit-down restaurant for you to enjoy.

Flora-Bama Marine & Watersports, located across the street from the legendary Flora-Bama beach bar, offers rentals on new jet skis and Waverunners with Bluetooth stereos so you can blast your favorite music while blasting through wakes and waves. Their location on Old River, next to luxurious Ono Island, is ideal for those who want to ride over to Robinson Island, a white-sand/turquoise water-surrounded island that is accessible only by water and an extremely popular party spot for locals. Ask your rental attendant for quick, easy directions. Then, after you’re done jet skiing, you can just hop across the street to end your day partying at the Flora-Bama.

Happy Harbor Marina, located on Cotton Bayou in Orange Beach offers jet skis for rent that can accommodate up to three riders. Their equipment is new and well-maintained, and their location offers easy access to popular Robinson Island and Perdido Bay’s thousands of square miles of open water, coves, hidden creeks, and secret islands. With plenty of water-accessible bars and restaurants around the area, you’re sure to have a fantastic experience.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Fishing from the Pier in Gulf Shores AL

pier fishing in Gulf Shores AL
Click to enlarge photo
One of the most fun things you can do while visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, especially with kids, is to go fishing off the Gulf State Park Pier. The pier was damaged by Hurricane Sally a couple of years ago, but it remains open just past the half-way point and the restrooms are still accessible.

You can rent fishing equipment there, if you don’t have your own, but you will need to get your Alabama Saltwater Fishing License in advance at Walmart’s sporting goods counter or by going online here. Also, before you go, it’s a good idea to visit one of the local bait shops in the area to get yourself some frozen squid and mackerel and to make sure you have the right kind of setups for your leaders, hooks, and weights. You can ask the bait shop personnel for some advice on that and about what artificial lures might be working well at the time you go.

Live bait is best, of course, but you’ll need a bait bucket with motorized air pump for that – available at the bait shops. When you’re at the pier, there is almost always a local or two there who will be happy to give you some advice, too – especially if you offer to buy them a drink at the pier concession ;)

how to catch fish from the pier in Gulf Shores
Click to enlarge photo
There is a wide variety of fish that can be caught from the pier including Sheepshead, Spanish Mackerel, Flounder, Pompano, King Mackerel, Redfish, Whiting, sharks, and more. If you hook something too big to reel up, just yell for help from a local who has a lift basket designed for that purpose. They’ll be happy to help you land your fish – especially if you offer to give it to them after you get some pictures ;)

If you really want to learn something, the Gulf State Park Pier offers a pier fishing Angler Academy for beginners that you can attend. It costs $15 per person and lasts about 2 hours. Angler Academy is by reservation only, so contact them in advance to set it up.

The pier is open for fishing 24/7, but if you need to rent fishing equipment, you’ll need to go during the hours it is staffed (6AM-10PM). There is a restaurant and concession stand available if you get hungry or thirsty, too. Here are the basic fees to expect:

Parking: $3 for 2 hours; $5 for 4 hours; $10 all day parking & includes fishing permit (not to be confused with a State Saltwater Fishing License, which much be purchased separately at Walmart or the link provided above

Fishing permit: $9 for the day; $41 for the week

Rod/Reel rental: $10 for 4 hrs; $20 all day

Sightseeing (if you don’t want to fish): $2 for all day

LEARN MORE about fishing at the Gulf State Park Pier

VISIT OUR FISHING PAGE for more local favorite guides and fishing advice

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Little Lagoon | Best Place to Stay in Gulf Shores

best gulf shores sunset | Little Lagoon
Little Lagoon sunset
Want to see the best Gulf Shores sunsets and eat like a local? Here's a bit of local advice for you. Instead of paying a premium to stay on the beach, find a house on the south side of Little Lagoon. You'll save some money, avoid the inevitable noise, elevator waits, and congestion that comes with staying in a high rise condo, and you'll enjoy the best sunsets the northern Gulf coast has to offer while still being close to all the restaurants, bars, and entertainment.

Gulf Shores' beaches run east and west, meaning the sun does not set over the Gulf of Mexico. In the summer, the sun actually sets behind the high rise condos, ruining the view from the beach. By staying on the south side of Little Lagoon, across the street from the beach, you will not only enjoy incredible sunset water views, but also plenty of fun fishing, crabbing, kayaking, and paddle boarding opportunities.

Little Lagoon is connected to the Gulf via Little Lagoon Pass, so it is a body of water that rises and falls with the tide, keeping it beautiful and clean. Chock full of fish and crustaceans like speckled trout, red fish, founder, and blue crab, Little Lagoon is the locals' favorite place to relax and have fun away from the tremendous crowds on the beach. But when you want to hit the beach, it is just a short walk or bike ride away, giving you the best of both worlds.

Now, about eating like a local: When staying on Little Lagoon, one of the best things you can do on your first day in Gulf Shores is go to Walmart to get yourself a saltwater fishing license and buy yourself a crab trap, a length of rope, some cheap chicken (thighs or drumsticks) and a box of Zatarain's Crab Boil in Bag seasoning. Tie the length of rope to the crab trap, load a couple of pieces of raw chicken into it, drop the trap off your dock into the lagoon, and secure the rope to the dock. Leave it for 24 hours and then go check it. You're likely to have a few nice blue crabs in there, just waiting for you to boil yourself up a fantastic dinner. You can keep re-baiting and setting your trap each day until you have enough crabs to make your dinner (put the live crabs you collect into an ice chest with ice and they will go dormant). 

low country boil with blue crab
Then, when you have roughly one or two crabs per person, the best thing to do is go to Gulf Shores Seafood (a local fresh seafood market near the beach) and buy enough "Low Country Shrimp Boil" meals for your dinner party. It will come cooked and ready to eat with tons of fresh shrimp, smoked sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob. All you need to do then is boil your crabs.

While someone is out picking up your prepared low country shrimp boil, start boiling a pot of water on your stove and follow the directions on your Zatarain's box to prepare your seasoned water. 

When your already-prepared low country shrimp boil meal arrives at the house, toss your fresh crabs into the prepared and seasoned water. They'll be done in just a few minutes (when they turn bright red). 

Now, just toss your finished crabs on top of your already-prepared low country shrimp boil meal and you'll have a feast fit for a King - made with your self-caught fresh crabs!

Here's a YouTube video detailing the crab boiling process, to help you understand how it works. And another video that teaches you how to eat your crabs.

You can find vacation rentals on the south side of Little Lagoon by visiting the websites of local vacation rental agencies you find on Google, or better yet you can visit the VRBO website (Vacation Rentals by Owner). 

Here are the streets you want to be on, so you can look these up when you start searching those sites:

Windmill Ridge Road, Gulf Shores

West 8th Avenue, Gulf Shores

West 8th Street, Gulf Shores

West Lagoon Avenue, Gulf Shores

West Beach Boulevard (WEST OF LITTLE LAGOON PASS), Gulf Shores

Seahorse Circle, Gulf Shores

Staying on the north side of Little Lagoon is great, too. But you won't be facing the sunsets. If you stick to rentals on the streets listed above, you can't go wrong. Just check all the photos to be sure the view isn't obstructed by anything before booking.

VISIT OUR WHERE TO STAY and WHAT TO DO PAGES for more local tips and advice

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Gulf Shores Public Beach Photos

gulf shores public beach photos
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Gulf Shores, Alabama, is home to two of the most beautiful and vibrant public beaches anywhere on the Gulf Coast. Here is some information and Gulf Shores public beach photos to help you choose the best one for you.

Gulf Shores Public Beach, located at the foot of AL Highway 59 South, is the hub of activity and entertainment in Gulf Shores. With its soft, sugar-sand shores and gentle waves, it provides the perfect setting for families and beachgoers of all ages. The main public beach offers a range of amenities to enhance your beach experience. From shaded picnic areas and pavilions to clean restrooms and outdoor showers, to a variety of restaurants and bars just steps away, everything you need for a fun and active day at the beach is readily available. The new boardwalk, a product of the city’s ongoing beautification program, is a spectacular addition offering easy beach walks and a place to ride bikes and scooters. The beach also provides the most convenient parking options, making it more easily accessible for visitors.

Gulf State Park Beach, located just a few minutes east of the main public beach in Gulf Shores, is a true paradise for beach enthusiasts seeking a more laid-back experience. Spanning over two miles along the Gulf of Mexico, this expansive public beach features soft, powder-white sands and crystal-clear, emerald waters. It's the perfect place to indulge in water activities like swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. Gulf State Park Beach also offers amenities such as picnic areas with grills, clean restrooms, outdoor showers, and convenient beach access points. Nature lovers will appreciate the park's less hands-on approach. The beach isn’t groomed obsessively like the main public beach in Gulf Shores, giving it a more natural look. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to find more shells, driftwood, and other natural wonders that wash up.  Don’t miss your opportunity to explore the park’s trails through untouched coastal dunes and coastal hardwood swamps, too. You’ll see wildlife including cranes, pelicans, crustaceans, alligators, and coastal hawks.

Whether you seek serenity or excitement, Gulf Shores has the perfect public beach to suit your preferences and create lasting memories. Take a moment also to review local advice about what to do, and NOT do, at Gulf Shores' public beaches.

LEARN MORE about Gulf Shores Public Beach

LEARN MORE about Gulf State Park Beach

VISIT OUR WHAT TO DO PAGE for more local favorite activities

Monday, June 26, 2023

Surf Fishing in Gulf Shores | Guided Beach Fishing Trips and Lessons

beach fishing in gulf shores al | surf fishing in gulf shores al
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Want to fish from the beach? You can have a great time casting your line from the beach in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan, AL without risking getting seasick on a charter boat. Also known as Surf Fishing, fishing from the beach is great for kids and adults alike. 

Beach Bum Outdoors in Gulf Shores offers guided beach fishing trips that include rods & reels, the correct baits, and lessons on how to catch a variety of fish species from the shore! Cast your line and anticipate encounters with Pompano, Whiting, Spanish Mackerel, Redfish, Bluefish, Jacks, and even sharks. These thrilling catches provide a diverse and exciting fishing experience for anglers of all skill levels. With the help of Beach Bum Outdoors, you’ll be digging your feet into the beach fighting a saltwater catch you’ll never forget!

LEARN MORE about Beach Bum Outdoors

VISIT OUR FISHING PAGE for a list of more local favorites

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Public Beach Gulf Shores

public beach Gulf Shores with picnic tables and shade pavilions
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The public beach in Gulf Shores is our most crowded beach. It has the most available parking, and it is the primary beach that many locals, day-trippers, and visitors who are not staying in beachfront accommodations go to. So, if you like a busy beach buzzing with activity and lots of happy people, this is the one for you.

Where to find it: Located at the dead end of Gulf Shores Parkway (Hwy 59 South), the public beach offers parking for a fee of $15 per day (7am – 2am), paid at self-service kiosks you’ll see scattered around the lots. To find the parking lots, you can go straight through the stoplight at Gulf Shores Parkway and Beach Blvd or turn right onto West Beach Blvd. There are more parking lot entrances on your left and your right within the first block or so you travel.

What it has: The public beach has a lot to offer. Not only is it our largest beach, but it also has a beautiful new boardwalk, volleyball courts, grassy areas, shady pavilions, picnic tables, clean new restrooms and shower stations, and some nice beachfront restaurants/bars you can easily walk to.

About alcohol and other intoxicants: According to the posted rules at the public beach, alcohol is not permitted. However, it is this writer’s opinion (and experience) that the no alcohol rule is in place so that the beach police can break up large, obnoxious parties and prevent situations like kegs being brought down onto the sand. If you pack yourself a few beers or whatever you like in an ice chest you can carry down from your car, and you don’t behave like you’re at a frat party, you’ll be left alone by the beach patrols. As far as other intoxicants go, DON’T do it. Weed, for example, is NOT legal in Alabama and whenever the beach patrol gets wind of it, they WILL follow their noses to you, and you’ll get to spend a lovely night in the City Jail and spend a ton of money trying to extricate yourself from the situation.

When to go: During the busiest months (June/July/August), it is strongly recommended that you get yourself down there by 10am to give yourself the best chance of finding a parking spot. By Noon you are guaranteed to be completely out of luck. Locals’ favorite time to go to the beach is late afternoon, around 4pm-5pm. Not only is the evening a great time to be on the beach as the heat of the day dissipates, but it is also the time of day that the day-trippers and tourists who have been there all day start to leave in droves. You’ll find parking much more easily and you’ll have a more enjoyable time as the sun goes down.

What to do: While visiting our beaches, just be smart and courteous to others and you’ll have a great time. Bring and wear plenty of sunscreen, pick up all your trash, obey the flag system warnings (Red Flag means dangerous surf), and don’t leave your chairs and umbrellas unattended after sunset. The city will remove them if you do – and they will be gone forever. During the day, don’t leave valuables unattended. Like any public gathering place, thieves go there. Cell phones, speakers, paddleboards, expensive sunglasses, purses, and even your ice chests are targets for criminals.

LEARN MORE about the public beach in Gulf Shores, AL

VISIT OUR PAGES about Where to Stay, What to Do, Food, Golf, Fishing, and Shopping

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Beaches at Gulf Shores Alabama

gulf shores alabama public beach
Gulf Shores
The Gulf Coast of Alabama is home to some of the best white sand beaches in the United States. Nestled along this pristine coastline are the sun-kissed shores of Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Fort Morgan. Whether you seek relaxation, adventure, or simply the joy of sun, sand, and surf, these beach destinations offer something for everyone. Here is some information about each of the main beach options for you to enjoy while visiting:

  1. Gulf Shores: Renowned for its stunning beaches and vibrant atmosphere, most of the beaches in Gulf Shores are public and can be accessed freely by visitors. The main attraction is the Gulf Shores Public Beach located at the foot of Highway 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway), with ample parking (for a small fee), access to very nice and well-maintained restrooms and shower stations, and convenient beachfront restaurants and bars. Gulf State Park also offers a public access beach with tons of parking (for a small fee), picnic pavilions, and convenient restroom facilities. Each condo tower and beach house in Gulf Shores has private beach access, but all are open to the public at the water’s edge, so it really doesn’t matter where you stay. You can walk the beach as much as you like.
  2. Orange Beach: This area features a mix of public and private beaches, giving visitors a choice based on their preferences. Public beaches like Cotton Bayou Beach and Perdido Pass Beach offer free access and convenient amenities such as picnic areas, showers, and restrooms. Private beaches, often associated with resorts and condos, provide additional amenities like beach chair rentals, umbrella services, and beachside restaurants. Like Gulf Shores, even the private beaches are open to the public at the waterline for walking as much as you like.
  3. Fort Morgan: Situated on the western end of the Alabama coastline, Fort Morgan offers a more secluded and tranquil beach experience. The beaches in Fort Morgan are not cleaned of seaweed every day, so it has a more natural look and feel and it's great for beachcombers who like to look for shells, driftwood, and mysterious creatures that wash up. There is no charge for parking, wherever you can find it. It is generally less populated, so you can set up your chairs and umbrellas with a bit more distance between yourself and the next beachgoers. Plus, Fort Morgan’s beaches are dog-friendly, so it’s the ideal area to stay if you bring the family pet along.

Whether you're seeking the convenience of public amenities or the exclusivity of private resorts, Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Fort Morgan have beach options to suit every preference. These Gulf Coast destinations provide a range of experiences, from bustling public beaches with ample amenities to secluded stretches of pristine shoreline. So pack your sunscreen, grab your beach towel, and get ready to create unforgettable memories along the magnificent shores of Alabama's Gulf Coast.

VISIT OUR WHAT TO DO PAGE for more local favorite activities