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Dauphin Island, Alabama,

A Gem in the Gulf


Dauphin Island, Alabama,

Sand Dune Drifts, Dauphin Island, AL

Bonnie Burgess
Updated May 13, 2011

Dauphin Island, the one mile wide island across the causeway from the Alabama mainland, is a gem on the gulf coast. White sand beaches spread around the island, along with history, activities and even higher education. The island has seven miles of paved road and has 1200 permanent residents.

This destination would be a great recommendation from travel agents for a romantic getaway or a family vacation. The beach area is plenty vast for everyone to have a lot of space for beach activities or just relaxing with the cool gulf breezes. After the gulf oil spill, the beautiful beaches seem near deserted when they previously were full of beach goers.

Mike and Karen Tafra have owned the Gulf Breeze Motel, for 30 years on Dauphin Island. Karen acknowledged that business was always good for them, being the only motel on the island, until the gulf oil spill. Karen admits that the oil spill did not really affect the island and their motel physically, but once the spill hit the news, the media and BP personnel spilled onto the island and stayed for months. After the spill, as many would be tourists heard the news of the spill and the effect it may have on seafood, the motel guests have not come back until recently, but slowly. However, Karen also interjected, that normally the motel would be full for March and April, but not this year. She is hopeful business will pick up in the summer.

The Gulf Breeze Motel is located across the street from a gorgeous beach. The rooms are well taken care of and offer either guest rooms or spacious two bedroom suites with kitchens, great for families or extended stays. Rates during peak season run between $95 and $119 per night for two persons. The staff is hospitable, attentive and ready and waiting for business.

Amenities include:

  • Cable TV
  • Boat launch and slips
  • Wireless internet
  • Refrigerator in guest rooms
  • Kitchens in suites
  • Convenient to island activities

Other accommodations are available around the island including private home and condominium rentals.

Around the island:

  • Building of the historic Fort Gaines began in 1821, and was finished during the Civil War. The famous phrase “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” was commanded by Admiral Farragut at the Battle of Mobile Bay. Actual cannons used in the battle and other historic memorabilia can be found at the fort.
  • Native American Shell Mounds are located on the island, believed to be a sort of burial ground of native Cahokia Indians.
  • Dauphin Island is home to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, which includes a fresh water lake and trails around the lake, and lookout area. Groups would normally arrive in the spring and fall for bird watching, but did not make this trip in the last year due to the oil spill.
  • Dauphin Island Sea Lab inhabits the east end of the island where about 21 colleges support marine and ecological programs.
  • The Estuarium at the Sea Lab
  • 18 hole golf course, where the Mayor runs the restaurant at the course.

Activities found on the island include:

  • Bird watching
  • Kayak Rentals
  • Golf
  • Deep sea fishing
  • Pier fishing
  • Swimming and sunbathing
  • Biking
  • Parasailing
  • Four churches available for worship
  • Historical sightseeing

Airports close to Dauphin Island:

  • Mobile, about 1 hour away
  • Gulf Port, approximately 1 ½ hours away
  • Pensacola, about 1 ½ hours away
  • A private airport on Dauphin Island

Temperatures at Dauphin Island range from the 40’s in December though February, with 70’s in March and April, and warm temperatures through October. Hurricane season begins around the end of June through November. Gulf breezes blow year round, and cool the area in the heat. The gulf area should again be considered as a satisfying relaxing or fun filled vacation destination.

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