About 3 miles off the coast of Alabama on the Gulf of Mexico, Dauphin Island attracts visitors to its white sand beaches, boating, shallow water or charter boat fishing, and a public aquarium called the Estuarium -- located on an estuary. Birdwatchers can explore the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, and history buffs can explore the preserved remains of Fort Gaines, site of the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. Temperatures generally range from the low 60s in winter months to the high 80s during busy summer months. Stay overnight or for several weeks at places ranging from public campgrounds to vacation rentals at privately owned condominium developments. Reach the 14-mile-long island, the long-ago capital of France’s Louisiana Territory, by bridge or ferry.
A Motel on the Gulf
The Gulf Breeze Motel on Dauphin Island has basic rooms and two suites with kitchens. Stay the night, or capitalize on discounted monthly rates. Any lodging on the island tends to be less expensive outside the busy months of May through August. Hotels didn’t operate on the island as of early 2014, but you can find hotels within an hour's drive of the island in the mainland cities of Fairhope and Moss Point.
A Bed with Breakfast
Dauphin House is a Bed and Breakfast inn that serves hot breakfasts every morning at this property facing Dauphin Bay. Choose a room that accommodates two guests or a larger room for four. Some have decks overlooking the water. Willow Tree Cottage is like a B&B without breakfast. The owners live on the premises in another cottage. However, the fully furnished cottage is equipped with a small kitchen. Guests can prepare their own meals or try one of several small restaurants that dot the island.
Under the Stars
At Dauphin Island Park and Beach, pitch a tent or park your RV at a designated spot with electrical hookups. The 155-acre town park offers direct access to the beach and public boat launches. Call ahead, especially for the busy summer season, to reserve a primitive tent site or RV site. The park is home to a camping supply store, picnic tables, a beach boardwalk, a playground, bathhouse, an off-leash dog park and hiking/biking trails.
Condos with a View
The Inn at Dauphin Island and Dauphin Island Beach Club are condominium complexes that include fully furnished condos available for short-term rental from Beachfront Rentals and Sales. Dauphin Island Beach Club has four-bedroom condos available for a night or several weeks on a property with two swimming pools and direct beach access. The Inn at Dauphin Island is also a beachfront property with one- and two-bedroom condos available for overnight or short-term rentals. Each unit includes a balcony facing the water.
Vacation Home Rentals
Privately owned apartments, condos and beach houses with one to six bedrooms are available for short-term rentals on Dauphin Island. Properties are advertised by individuals or listed through online vacation rental networks such as Vacation Rentals by Owner and HomeAway. Shop around, and study the fine print on rental agreements for restrictions or extra fees. Popular vacation rental properties sometimes are already booked six months to a year in advance of busy tourist season months.