Friday, April 21, 2017

Where to Stay, What to Eat, What to Do while Visiting Dauphin Island, Alabama|My Definitive Guide

I love the beach.  This is 100% absolutely true. We have been going to an island community in southern Alabama now for five years. We're getting ready for our sixth trip! We sometimes say "let's go somewhere else" but then soon decide against it when we remember how relaxed and laid back our little island is. 

 I remember the night I was searching for a vacation spot, six years ago, I typed in "closest beaches to Missouri" and Alabama came up in the search, somehow after that I found this gem of a place. I started looking at beach homes to rent and was blown away at the price. We could actually do this... and stay ON the beach? So we booked our first year at Dauphin Island. Before we went the rental company sent us a list of grocery stores that we might want to use, the list went like this, Ship & Shore (on the island and does not carry a lot of things) Greer's Market and Walmart in Tilman's Corner. So going in I figured that our options for eating on the island was minimal. I planned our grocery list and we shopped on the way in to the island that year at Walmart. Needless to say it's grown a lot since we started going. Still not anything like Gulf Shores, traffic wise or business wise, but that's what we like. You'll either love it because there's nothing there or you'll hate it because there's nothing there.

I get asked a lot of questions a lot of the time about Dauphin Island. I said to my hubby one day "I totally need to start booking people's vacations and charging them as a travel agent". Then I thought, I could make a giant blog post about it and put it all out there. So here we go...

Places to stay or find a rental;
There are about 4 rental companies on the island. I suggest booking early. Obviously the good ones go quick. The first few times we stayed on the gulf side. The house we rented wasn't right on the beach but it was a mere 200 ft maybe down to the water. We enjoyed that location because we could go down in the morning and stay, go back for lunch, leaving our things there and then return after a break. But we quickly grew out of that house. It was a darling little house, a typical beach cottage. Now we rent on the sound side. No waves and it's cheaper. We rented a larger house these past few times for a little bit more and the water was maybe 50 yards away. I could send the kids down (the older ones) and let them get in without me being right there. No waves, it's not deep close in and there's no one around, it's our own private beach. HEAVEN!
Rental Companies

Dauphin Island Beach Rentals  I have not personally used this company, but they have beautiful rentals!
Boardwalk Realty  this is who we have been renting with now for three years. I like them, I like the way they do things. Balance is due when you pick up your key. Great company to work with!
Island Resort Management  have not worked with them before, again, they have beautiful properties.
ACP Realty  Don't know anything about them. But they are always busy!
Dauphin Island Real Estate this is who we used to use. We never had any problems at all with them.

What to do;  Swim. HAHA! Seriously, what else do you need?
There is a mini golf place on the island now
Estuariam  this is a neat little place to visit. Fish, ocean life, etc.
Fort Gaines  an old war fort. They do period shows. It's fun and educational, and a good rainy day activity.
Shop at one of the little shops, our favorites are Treasure Trove and The Happy Octopus.
Rent bikes, kayaks or paddle boards
Go fishing
Dolphin Cruise (I believe there are two companies that do this)
Swim at West End Beach with everyone else, but there are bigger waves and better shells!

West End Beach

The littlest at Miguel's 

Where to eat; My favorite subject when I'm on vacation is eating, because let's face it, I'm on vacation, which means I'm "off" right? No cooking? Well I do cook a majority of the time we're there. We're a family of six so economically it just makes sense. But we have a few places that we absolutely MUST enjoy while on the island. One is not even on the island. We take the ferry across to Gulf Shores and go to Lulu's  it is SO fun! We ALWAYS plan this ahead, we take the first ferry over and get to Lulu's when it opens at 11am, we NEVER wait to eat and by the time we're leaving the crowds are usually pouring in.

Lighthouse Bakery this is a must for us. They serve the biggest and most delicious cinnamon rolls ever! On Sundays they serve omelets and the line is usually wrapped outside. They also do a pretty killer chicken salad sandwich. We usually do a breakfast day here and a lunch day for their delicious sandwiches.
Island Rainbow  we always plan a pizza night and that pizza comes from Island Rainbow. They are ALWAYS busy so don't call it in, you probably won't get through. We usually drive down to order and then back to pick up. It's really good and HUGE! They also have the best shaved ice on the island. They have what they call a "humdinger" it is a shaved ice filled with ice cream, to.die.for.
Miguel's  this is a new spot, well semi new. We ate here last year, twice! They don't have indoor seating, but let me tell you, that was the best, freshest mexican food I think I have ever had! And giant portions. Definitely on our list!

Groceries or any other kind of necessity;
Ship & Shore (this has your basics, some produce, box mixes, cereal, milk, some alcohol)
Greer's (this is a full service grocery but their prices are pretty high)
Walmart in Tilman's Corner (about an hour drive)
I also like to visit this darling produce stand that is just at the corner when you turn on to Dauphin Island Parkway. They have a beautiful selection and always great prices.

I guess that's about it. It's basically the best week of the year. We relax, enjoy each other, spend time outdoors, away from the television, technology and rubbish. We read, cook, drink and swim. Last year we rented kayaks and a paddle board. It really is our second home. <3 

And now for the obligatory sunset pics, after all, you are in the sunset capital of the world in Dauphin Island. 


  1. ohhh how i love this post!! we usually go North to southwest michigan (we also live in missouri!!) and last year we decided to change things up and head to DI....we fell in love..the kids can fish in the canal, play on the sound and in the gulf..literally surrounded by water. We LOVED miguels & lighthouse bakery as well. I am suprised you didn't mention skinners (have you purchased fresh meals from them to go? so delish!!) We did do a dolphin cruise on THE DUKE with Action Outdoors and it was great (they drug a net behind the boat and brought all kinds of sea creatures up into their touch tank and the kids got to touch sting rays, sea urchins, etc). We will be there for our 2nd trip in 11 days! such a wonderful laidback island

    1. We just got back! ❤️
      We had skinners this time, I cooked some shrimp. And the first year we did the Duke cruise! I actually forgot all about that until you mentioned it!
      Have a super vacation! It's like going home when we go!

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