It’s no secret; The Yellowhammer State literally boasts some of the best beaches in the US, along with a number of the most beautiful beach towns in America. Alabama, with its Gulf Coast, warm and sunny weather, and drawl charm, is among the top vacation destinations in the South (not that far behind Florida, for that matter). But given the abundance of beautiful vacation spots in Alabama, it can be a real challenge to pick a place to go.
Fear not, for the hard work has been done for sun-starved beach bums; out of all the most popular beach destinations in Alabama, these sensational shorelines are unbeatable, and each serves up something unique. With their warm Gulf waters, soft, sugary sands, and nearby small beach towns, Alabama’s best beaches are ready to steal the show from pretty much all the other top beach destinations in the US. Get a load of these beauties.
10 Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Pine trees and palmettos along the Pine Beach Trail in Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Gulf Shores, Alabama, USA
The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge truly is a hidden gem in Alabama. It’s home to abundant local wildlife (including over 360 species of birds) and gorgeous winding trails that take hikers down to the coast (bicycles aren’t permitted; the trails here are only for foot traffic). Of course, it’s among the most beautiful spots on Alabama’s coast to visit at any time of the year, but summer wins overall. Why? Bring a beach bag and swimsuit and find out.
The beaches at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge are indeed pretty and great for a day at the seaside. But it’s the refuge’s swimming areas that command attention; they’re excellent for spotting the many species of marine life that thrive in Alabama’s waters. Visitors can also enjoy other activities, from birding and fishing to boating (non-motorized boats only).
Another reason to visit this nature spot in Alabama is that it remains relatively unknown to outsiders. That means it rarely gets crowded — win! There are no lifeguards, though, so visitors must be careful when swimming.
12295 AL-180, Gulf Shores, AL 36542, United States
Best Time to Visit Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge:
Spring and fall are ideal for birding
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center Hours:
Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Trails Hours:
Year-round, 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset
The trails at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge are open even when the visitor’s center isn’t. As such, people can visit its beaches at any time. Also, remember that there are no lifeguards here; caution is a must for those who wish to swim.
9 North Beach Park, Fairhope
Sunset in Fairhope, Alabama, looking across Mobile Bay, USA, one of the best vacation spots in Alabama
Fairhope is mostly famed for its art galleries (the Eastern Shore Art Center is a notable art haven), souvenir stores, cafes, and seafood restaurants. But what many non-residents don’t know is that Fairhope is one of the best towns in Alabama to visit, with its sandy shores full of quartz grains that washed down from the Appalachian Mountains many thousands of years ago.
This popular southern town delivers some of the top beaches in Alabama, and North Beach Parkis perhaps home to the best of the bunch. The park is the ultimate beach destination in the Southern US, with its laid-back sandy shores, pretty rose garden, duck pond, and scenic walking trai.ls The park also offers public restrooms, playgrounds, picnic tables, grills, and wheelchair-friendly access.
Plus, one of the top attractions in Fairhope here is the 1,448-foot-long pier next to the beach; it showcases stunning views of Mobile Bay and is a lovely spot to take photos and enjoy some of the best ocean views in Alabama. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed on the pier, but they’re permitted to walk on leashes along the trails in North Beach Park.
North Beach Park Address:
N Beach Rd, Fairhope, AL 36532, USA
North Beach Park Entry Fee:
Non-residents are charged during the summer months, which is around $20 per vehicle, according to a
Facebook post from the City of Fairhope
Best Time to Visit Fairhope:
March during the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival
Make sure to visit Fairhope in March when the free-to-attend Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival takes place.
8 Lake Martin, Wind Creek State Park
The lake at Wind Creek State Park in Alabama, USA
Beautiful riverside beaches in the US are a sublime alternative to traditional beach vacation spots. But there’s another type of US beach vacation idea ready to blast the others out of the water: lakes. Although, is there a lake beach in Alabama? Absolutely! Lake Martin is a freshwater lake in Wind Creek State Park that’s generally considered among the lesser-known beaches in Alabama (but that’s slowly changing as it gains fame).
Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City boasts 1,444 acres of beauty, and its lake waters are clean and safe for swimming since there aren’t any strong currents. It’s not just lounging on the sandy lake beach and swimming that gets all the attention here, either; bird watching, fishing tournaments, and hiking trails in Wind Creek State Park mean this spot finds itself rated among the all-around family-friendly vacation destinations in Alabama.
Moreover, if the beach, trails, and activities weren’t enough of a draw, get this: the campground at Wind Creek State Park enables visitors to stay overnight in its campsites and cabins with comfortable amenities (the perfect excuse to turn one’s stay from a day into an entire weekend — and camping is definitely one of the best things to do in Alabama).
In actual fact, it’s one of the largest state-operated campgrounds in the US, boasting 586 campsites, all of which have water and electrical hook-ups (including 157 waterfront sites). Plus, bathhouses are available throughout the campground, along with two laundry facilities.
Visitors can reserve camping at Wind Creek State Park (and other state parks in Alabama) via the Alabama State Parks online search and booking tool. Alternatively, campers can enjoy glamping in Lake Martin with Timberline Glamping.
Wind Creek State Park Address:
325 AL-128, Alexander City, AL 3501
Wind Creek State Park Admission:
$2 for ages 4-11, $5 for ages 12-61, $2 for ages 62 and over, $5 per boat launch fee, $4 per vehicle and campers, $4 per vehicle for dump station access
Wind Creek State Park Hours:
Daily, 7 AM to Dark
Best Time to Visit Wind Creek State Park:
Spring, summer, and fall for the best weather, but winter sees fewer crowds
Visitors can also purchase annual passes for Wind Creek State Park, which, according to the park’s website, cost $155 for families of up to 6 people, $105 for individuals, and $55 for seniors aged 62 and above.
7 Robinson Island
Aerial view of Bayou Saint John and the Perdido Pass with Robinson Island in Orange Beach, Alabama, USA
Alabama’s Robinson Island is one of the four Orange Beach Islands (also known as the Perdido Pass), which comprises Bird Island, Gilchrist Island, Walker Island, and Robinson Island.
Robinson Island is one of the most beautiful islands in Alabama and a popular day trip in the Orange Beach area — but it’s only accessible by boat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard. Once there, there isn’t a whole lot to do, bar paddling in the waters, enjoying the pristine, undeveloped terrain, fishing on the pier, and enjoying what many residents believe to be the most beautiful beach in Alabama (thanks to its isolated nature).
The allure of the beaches on Robinson Island is their unspoiled beauty and seclusion — that peace and tranquility are what makes the island so loved. But that’s not all; the island is a designated bird sanctuary and a very important nesting area for terns and wading herons (so bring a camera and some binoculars for this one, wildlife lovers — it’s one of the best places for birdwatching in Alabama, hands down).
Also, while this spot promises some of the most stunning beaches in Alabama, visitors should be aware that there are absolutely no amenities or facilities on Robinson Island. Therefore, travelers must bring everything they need for their visit (and take it away with them when they leave — yes, especially trash). Also, dogs and any other pets are not allowed here — neither is camping.
Robinson Island Address:
Robinson Island, Alabama 36561, USA
Best Time to Visit Robinson Island:
All Orange Beach Islands are great year-round, but are best to visit from 10 AM to 4 PM when the sun is at its highest in the sky
Visitors are prohibited from accessing the interior of Robinson Island and the nearby Bird Island due to the presence of protected shorebird nesting sites. Also, to protect seagrass (which is vital to the ecosystem), “No Motor Zones” are posted on the islands’ east sides. However, Bird Island’s southern trip is the best area for landing small boats and water crafts.
6 Fort Morgan
Aerial view of Fort Morgan Historical Site and Fort Morgan Beach, Alabama, USA, one of the best beach vacation spots in Alabama
Fort Morgan Beach is one of the most uncrowded beach vacation destinations in Alabama that lets tourists escape the noise and bustle of nearby Mobile and neighboring resort areas of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach (it’s only around 20 miles or so from Gulf Shores, so it’s still close enough to all the action).
It’s one of the most important historic sites in Alabama (it’s actually a National Historic Landmark). The fort dates back to 1834, the year it was built to protect Mobile Bay. It was used during four major wars: the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and both World Wars.
While Fort Morgan is among the top historic attractions in Alabama, it’s also a favorite among beach bunnies (as well as bird watchers). The fort and its low-key, crowd-free beach are officially designated a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy. The area is a significant stopover for neotropical migrating birds in spring and fall — the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail markers are found on Highway 180.
Also, visitors will find two public beaches: there’s one right at the end of Mobile Street and another slightly east of Fort Morgan State Historic Site, both of which are worthy of being named among the most beautiful beaches in Alabama (go there and see why — seriously).
Fort Morgan Address:
Fort Morgan, Alabama 36542, USA
Fort Morgan Historic Site Admission:
$8 for adults, $5 for children, seniors, and college students, and $20 for families (2 adults and 2 children)
Best Time to Visit Fort Morgan:
March to May and October and November, when temperatures are warm and rainfall is less
When travelers visiting Fort Morgan have had enough of its quiet beach (yes, it is probably the least crowded beach in Alabama, after all), they can head to West Beach on West Beach Blvd (around 30 minutes away), where they’ll find many more amenities, including hotels, vacation rentals, and restaurants.
5 Cotton Bayou Beach, Gulf State Park
Cotton Bayou Beach, Orange Beach, Alabama, USA
Gulf State Park boasts more than three and a half miles of coastline for beach bums to find their peace. What’s more, because the beaches (including Cotton Bayou Beach) are located within the state park, kids can take part in educational activities in the summer.
Beach-goers in search of relaxation will enjoy Cotton Bayou Beach and Beach Pavilion (both offer generous amenities, too, such as parking, restrooms, and showers). Cotton Bayou Beach, in particular, is loved by locals; it oozes homely vibes and has eased-up regulations in comparison to other Alabama Gulf beaches. Setting up tents on Cotton Bayou beach is even allowed, given there’s minimal shade on the shore.
Gulf State Park Address:
20115 State Park Rd, Gulf Shores, AL 36542, United States
Cotton Bayou Beach Address:
25900 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561, USA
What Is There To Do At Gulf State Beach Park?
Cotton Bayou Beach and Beach Pavilion are part of Gulf State Park, as are some of the other amazing Alabama beaches on this list. The park itself comprises nine ecosystems, making it one of the best wildlife spots in Alabama. Lake Shelby, nestled at the park’s center, is pretty neat, too, providing opportunities for paddling and swimming (there are kayak rentals available on-site as well).
The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail in Gulf State Park is a major highlight, which comprises a 28-mile trail system chock-full of wildlife to spot, including birds, otters, boar, whitetail deer, coyotes, and alligators. The park’s Nature Center is another spot to check out (especially for families with kids); the site is a living museum of animals and plants native to the Gulf Coast region and is open Monday to Saturday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Camping at Gulf State Park is also a popular choice, providing some of the most scenic beach camping in the US — but not directly on the beach, though. The campground is just 1.5 miles from the beach and features campsites, cabins, and cottages that are budget-friendly. But for those who fancy a little more luxury, there’s always the Hilton-affiliated Lodge in Gulf State Park to book.
Gulf State Park Address:
20115 State Park Rd, Gulf Shores, AL 36542, United States
Cotton Bayou Beach Address:
25900 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561, USA
Gulf State Park Entrance Price:
Gulf State Park beach accesses entail paid parking
. For personal vehicles, it’s $3.00 for 2 hours, $5.00 for 4 hours, or $10.00 for a full day. Parking is $15.00 all day for vans or $30.00 all day for vehicles with a trailer, large RVs, or buses. See
Alapark’s Gulf State Park Beaches page
for more information on prices and parking. Parking is free to all campground guests with a windshield pass)
Best Time to Visit Gulf State Park:
March to October
The water at Cotton Bayou Beach can be a bit chilly until June, when it starts to warm up. From June, the waters stay fairly warm and comfortable for swimming right up until November.
4 Romar Beach, Gulf State Park
Perdido Pass, Orange Beach, Alabama, the same are as Romar Beach (Orange Beach is just 4 minutes from Romar Beach).
Romar Beach is also a part of the above-mentioned Gulf State Park and is stunning, but it’s considered one of the quiet, uncrowded beaches in Alabama since there aren’t that many amenities near its sandy stretch.
Still, those willing to forgo a few facilities in the vicinity will find it to be a top Alabama beach, thanks to the plentiful hotels and condos ideal for a short getaway. That said, although Romar Beach lacks amenities close by, visitors with a car are only a short drive from almost anything they’d ever need during their stay.
From the get-go, Romar Beach does look like many of the other beautiful Alabama beaches, with their sugar-soft white sands; however, what makes this seaside spot special is that it lacks development. The sands are free of infrastructure and human interruption, which has enabled wildlife in the area to thrive in peace — and the sands are super pristine, too.
Romar Beach Address:
24450 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561, USA
Best Time to Visit Romar Beach:
Fall (fewer crowds and cooler, pleasant weather). Otherwise, May to October is nice in terms of weather
Gulf State Park beach accesses have paid parking
. For personal vehicles, it’s $3.00 for 2 hours, $5.00 for 4 hours, or $10.00 for a full day. In contrast, it’s $15.00 all day for vans or $30.00 all day for vehicles with a trailer, large RVs, or buses. See
Alapark’s Gulf State Park Beaches page
for more details on prices and parking.
Romar Beach is currently closed (since April 2023) for renovations. Check the Alapark Gulf State Park Beaches page for updates on when it’ll reopen. When it is open, Romar Beach is peaceful, and the waters are nice for wading. However, visitors should be aware that there aren’t any lifeguards on duty, so care and caution is advised.
3 Alabama Point East Beach & Orange Beach
Rocks at Alabama Point East in Orange Beach, AL, with the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, one of the best beaches in AL
Orange Beach and Alabama Point East Beach get a dual mention here since they’re practically right next to one another.
For starters, Orange Beach is one of the best beach towns on the Gulf Coast, and its shores are super special; with its pure white alabaster sands and outdoor activities, it’s no wonder this stretch of coastline consistently ranks among the most beautiful Alabama beaches. It also offers superb dining, championship golf courses, fishing charters, dolphin-watching cruises, and nature hikes (again, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is nearby and popular with wildlife spotters).
The nearby Alabama Point East Beach is only minutes away and is celebrated for its striking blue-green water, sand dunes, and scenic picnic areas. Although it’s impossible to tire of these pretty Alabama beaches, travelers can get their legs pumping by renting a bike or going kayaking in Wolf Bay.
When the little ones get fed up with Orange Beach and Alabama Point East Beach (surely that’s impossible), Adventure Island awaits, where kiddies can burn energy in the arcade child-friendly rides. When the sun sets, The Wharf and the Flora-Bama Lounge (great for pub grub and oysters!) come alive with live entertainment.
Orange Beach Address:
city of Orange Beach
, Baldwin County, AL, USA
Alabama Point Each Beach Address:
28105 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561, USA
Best Time to Visit Orange Beach and Alabama Point East Beach:
May to October
2 East End Beach & West End Beach, Dauphin Island
Aerial view of Dauphin Island, Alabama, USA
With a title like the “Sunset Capital of Alabama,” it’s of little surprise that the 14-mile-long Dauphin Island at the southernmost point of the state contains some of the best Alabama beaches.
Before bigging up its shores, though, it’s worth mentioning that the island earns its place among the top vacation destinations in Alabama because it boasts tons of family-friendly attractions, such as the Historic Fort Gaines, the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, along with lots of boutique shops, chilled-out restaurants (which are known for locally caught seafood).
To catch the best views of the Gulf, East End Beach is a winner. This public beach, with its powdery white sands and bright blue water, is akin to a postcard and perhaps one of the most Instagrammable places in Alabama (hence it’s become a favorite spot for wedding photoshoots). The beach also comes with well-equipped covered picnic tables — ideal for escaping the sudden downpours that can occur sometimes.
On the other hand, West End Beach on the west side of Dauphin Island (not that far from East End Beach) is another top contender here. It comes with plentiful public amenities, including a picnic area, showers, and beach chair rentals. Plus, West End Beach is one of the cleanest beaches in Alabama; the sands and waters are immaculate and are regularly maintained.
East End Beach Address:
Right next to Historic Fort Gains at 51 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528, USA
West End Beach Address:
West End Beach 3000 Bienville Boulevard, Dauphin Island, AL, USA
West End Beach Hours:
Officially open May to September, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, but visitors can still access the sands year-round at any time (services are limited during the off-season)
Best Time to Visit Dauphin Island Beaches:
May to October
Dauphin Island Town & Beach Parking/Visitor Fees:
$10 for passenger vehicles (no charges for vehicle occupants), $20 for RVs and oversize vehicles, and $3 for pedestrians and walk-ins. See more information on rules and fees for Dauphin Island beaches on
this PDF from the Town of Dauphin Island
1 Gulf Place, Gulf Shores
Aerial view of the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama, USA, one of the most beautiful beaches Alabama has in store
With 32 miles of white sand beaches, Gulf Shores is one of the most beautiful places in Alabama for beaches and, as usual, reigns supreme. This sensational stretch of shoreline boasts some of the prettiest beaches in Alabama (made even more idyllic, thanks to the balmy waters of the Gulf of Mexico).
Visitors can find a number of Gulf Shores beach access points; however, Gulf Place (also known as Gulf Shores Main Public Beach) is notably popular and is consistently regarded as the best beach in Alabama (along with Orange Beach). It even offers generous facilities, from volleyball nets and picnic pavilions to showers and restrooms. Conveniently, the parking area is super close to the beach and is wheelchair accessible.
Away from the silky sandy shores of some of the popular beaches in Alabama in this area, tons of family-friendly attractions in Gulf Shores await, such as the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and Waterville USA — a huge 20-acre water park. Those willing to venture further can visit the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, located about 50 miles northwest. Don’t forget to sample fresh seafood at the many top-rated Gulf Shores restaurants (especially oysters!).
Gulf Place Address:
01 Gulf Shores Pkwy. Gulf Shores, AL 36542, USA
Best Time to Visit Gulf Shores Beaches:
April and May, September and October, and summer after the 4th of July holiday
June, July, and August are the wettest months in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Even so, they’re the busiest times in the area, so beach-goers driving in should arrive and park up early during this period (especially on weekends). Don’t underestimate the crowds throughout peak season; this area is one of the best beach destinations in Alabama, after all.