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5 Things You Need to Know if You Visit Dauphin Island Alabama

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If you are planning a trip to Dauphin Island, Alabama anytime soon, here are 5 things you need to know!

Our family took a trip back in September to Dauphin Island, Alabama. If you are familiar with Gulf Shores (which we have been to many times) then you will know that Dauphin Island is at the very tip of the peninsula — which is about an hour from Gulf Shores. You can get there by riding the ferry, or driving around the island and coming across the bridge.

When we first booked our vacation house through Vacasa (which I highly recommend), we didn't really know a lot about the area other than it is perfect for someone wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of it all.

We stayed there a whole week so we learned a few tricks of the trade that I thought I would share with you — just in case you are going to spend some time visiting Dauphin Island as well.

5 Things You Need to Know if You Visit Dauphin Island

#1 Buy Groceries Before Heading to the Island

The very first thing we learned when we got to Dauphin Island is that buying groceries is not easy to do ON the island. There is a Dollar Store and a convenience store with extremely overpriced food, so if you want groceries you have three options.

  • Go to Greer's Grocery Mart in Theodore (about 20 minutes from the island) before you get there.
  • Drive an hour to the Winn Dixie and shop there for your groceries once you arrive at your rental house.
  • Buy your groceries before you travel and just bring them with you.

The Dollar Store is only about 12 minutes from the island so if you forget something, they do have most of what you need. But if the meat is what you are needing, you will need an official grocery store like Greer's or Winn Dixie.

Next time, we are planning on getting a cooler with ice and packing our meat with us so that we do not have to go to the grocery store. 

#2 The Public Beach Costs Money

The cool thing about staying on Dauphin Island is that most of the beach houses are on the beach and accessible right in your front door. We were about 100 steps from the beach and it was perfect for us.

If you plan on going to the public beach, you need to know that it actually costs money. They charge you per car and per person which can get pretty expensive.

If you go to the public beach during off-season, make plans to visit it Monday through Thursday because no one mans the money taking during those times. However, Friday and Saturday will be paydays. 

#3 Dauphin Island is the Best Place for Shells and Sea Glass

When we chose Dauphin Island as our beach vacation, we had no idea that it would be the perfect location for finding all kinds of seashells and sea glass.

We started doing research and found it to be the #1 spot. 

Every single morning and afternoon, we would take long walks on the beach with Tucker and a bag and we would pick up so many pieces of sea glass and seashells.

We bought home a cooler full that we are planning to use to make some crafts with. 

#4 The Shopping is Great Here

One thing we learned while visiting Dauphin Island is that their souvenirs are much cheaper here than they are over in Gulf Shores or other parts of the beach.

They have one really awesome souvenir shop right as you come onto the island where you can get super soft t-shirts for only $10 and they are amazing. 

They have a few boutiques as well that sell some amazing clothes and jewelery. It really is a great place to shop for unique items.

#5 Good Food Choices

There are not a lot of restaurants on the island, so you have to be choosy when finding a place to eat but we did find a few places that are worth mentioning for sure. Of course, we did have to drive to Fairhope so that we could experience a Yard Milkshake — and we were not disappointed there!

Since we were able to eat at a few places, I thought I would list them all here.

Pirates Bar and Grill: We ate here for dinner one night and the food and view were fantastic. My son ordered the Blackened mahi-mahi and I got the blackened shrimp — both of which were excellent. My husband ordered the ribeye steak and he said it was one of the best he had eaten in a while.

Lighthouse Bakery: We went there to get doughnuts but we found out that they do not sell doughnuts but they have other baked goods that are so delicious! I got a homemade cream cheese danish that literally melted in my mouth. It was so good.

Foxy's Waffle Bar: If you want a delicious waffle, go to Foxy's I got a smoothie that was out of this world, but the kids ordered waffles topped with crazy concoctions and they were phenomenal. 

Miguel's Beach & Baha: Right beside Foxy's is Miguel's and they have the best tacos and nachos I have ever put in my mouth. Everything is fresh and homemade and if you do not eat here, you will be missing out!

Island Rainbow: We stopped here one afternoon to get ice cream and they have the best homemade ice cream I have ever eaten – I know I say that about a lot of food. They also serve pizza here but we did not get to try that.

Beached Cafe: Stephen loved eating here. They have these loaded fries that have gravy and brisket and cheese and demi-glace and they are fantastic. They have a ton of other artisan foods here as well and a full-time chef.

The rest of the time we were staying on Dauphin Island we chose to cook at our beach house. Everyone pitched in and we even had a couple of meals on the deck while we listened to the waves crashing against the shore.

Bonus Tip — The Island is Pet-Friendly

Another great thing about Dauphin Island is that the majority of the beach houses and restaurants and the entire island is pet-friendly.

We were able to get Tucker out and walk him on the beach every day and he loved it. He is definitely a beach bum for sure and loves getting his daily walk on.

I mean, what's not to love about getting sand between your fur toes right?

Finally

If you plan to visit Dauphin Island anytime soon, I hope you take these things into consideration.

I am sure that it will help you to have an amazing vacation as we did.

It felt good to get away and just unplug and relax for a week. This area is away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy places and is perfect for a family vacation.

We have already made plans to go back again and enjoy the area. 

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Tom Byrn

Friday 28th of August 2020

My wife and I plus our 2 puppies spent a week on the island first week in October 2019. I grew up going to Gulf Shores with my family it had never spent more than a day on the island before. We fell in love with the slow pace of Dauphin Island and rode bikes all over the island and walked our dogs all over the island. We stopped at Walmart in Tillman’s Corner for our groceries on the way in it was about 45 minutes away. When we needed something in a pinch we either crossed the bridge and hit the dollar store up the highway or went to the Ship and Shore store on the Island. They had groceries, meats, vegetables, We found it by accident lol looking for a crab net. Was shocked To find that it was a full grocery store. Prices were higher than most groceries but not nearly as bad as the convenience market. Thanks for the tips! I hope everyone has as much fun as we did.

Jennifer Sikora

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

That is so awesome to hear! Yes - we had to do a lot of the same when it came to groceries, but once we got everything, we LOVED being on the Island away from everything. It was truly amazing. I am so glad you had the best time.

Jeff W.

Sunday 2nd of August 2020

Any recommendations for a seafood market or getting fresh seafood to cook at home?

Jennifer Sikora

Monday 10th of August 2020

Are you talking about in Dauphin Island? I am not sure because we did not buy any seafood fresh while there so I have no idea. We ate out at a restaurant.

Sharon

Friday 24th of July 2020

Where did you stay on the island?

Jennifer Sikora

Monday 27th of July 2020

We stayed in a rental from Vacasa. If you read the post there is a link to the actual beach house we stayed in.

Bettie

Saturday 4th of July 2020

You didn’t mention the Sea Lab that is a great place to visit kids can pet the string rays and it is great

Jennifer Sikora

Sunday 5th of July 2020

Hi Bettie

I will add that to the post. We didn't get to do the Sea Lab. I only added the things we did while we were there.

Thanks!

Rebecca

Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

I've taken my dogs to the beach, but never on an overnight trip. Did you give your pup a bath every night? How did you handle keeping him clean?

Jennifer Sikora

Monday 8th of June 2020

We used the outside shower and washed him off that way. But yes -- if he rolled in the sand, we had to give him a bath since he sleeps in the bed with us.

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