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Dauphin Island is truly a place like no other. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, you’ll feel the difference as soon as you step foot on the Island and take in a breath of fresh Gulf air. A historically significant location, Dauphin Island’s Historic Fort Gaines, was active in the Civil War. The fort, now retired, stands guard overlooking Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Nowadays, Dauphin Island thrives upon its’ emphasis on low-key, family oriented vacations. Forget road congestion, water parks and outlet malls – the island doesn’t even have need for a traffic light. Instead, envision bike paths, walking trails, miles of white sandy beaches and simplicity centered upon outdoor recreation and the environment. Dauphin Island is a true hidden gem of Alabama’s Gulf Coast, so come and “surround yourself!”
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us and we hope that you enjoyed your tour of our facilities and of Dauphin Island. On behalf of the Dauphin Island Park & Beach Board, we have put together for you some brief history, information about Dauphin Island, and our facilities. We are always available for interviews and quotes. We also have a library on photos you can utilizes, please fill in the below form so that we can best serve your photography needs.
Brief History of Dauphin Island:
The well-preserved ramparts of Fort Gaines have guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay for more than 150 years. Now a historic site, the Fort stands at the eastern tip of Dauphin Island where it commands panoramic views of the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The Fort was recently designated as one of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites in America due to on-going shoreline erosion.
Long before Spanish and French explorers reached these shores, Dauphin Island was popular with Native Americans who came there to fish, hunt and gather oysters and other shellfish that grew in profusion in Mobile bay. Traces of their presence can still be seen today at Shell Mound Park on the Island’s north shore.
When the French landed on Dauphin Island in 1699, they found so many skeletons scattered on the beach that they thought a massacre had taken place there. The French named the island “Massacre Island” and established a settlement on the island. The colony was raided by pirates in 1711, but the settlement survived. By 1717, Dauphin Island was the home of the French Governor General of Louisiana, who lived in a home at today’s Cadillac Square. It was the French, in fact, who gave the island its name, after a member of French royalty, “Dauphine.”
The island passed through British and Spanish hands before becoming part of the United States. To defend its’ new territory of Alabama, the government built Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island between 1819 and 1853.The Fort played an important role in the Battle of Mobile Bay and it was within sight of its’ walls that Union Admiral David G. Farragut issued his now famous command, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” After Farragut and his ships forced their way into the bay, Union soldiers laid siege to Fort Gaines, which surrendered on August 8, 1864.
Dauphin Island has emerged as one of the most beautiful and peaceful settings on the Gulf Coast. The island today is a resort area, famed for its beaches and fishing. Dauphin Island offers beautiful beaches, pristine environments, coastal amenities and a rich history. It is truly a jewel of the Gulf Coast.
Location, Size, and Population:
Dauphin Island is a barrier island located about 45 minutes just south of Mobile’s Downtown. Entry to the island is made by crossing a three mile long high-rise bridge or by an automobile ferry from the eastern shore. The island is approximately 14 miles long and 1 ¾ miles wide at the widest point. It is estimated that 1300 permanent residents call Dauphin Island home.
Seasons and Tourism:
Dauphin Island has all you would expect from an Alabama Gulf Coast Community as far as climates. During our summer months, the sunshine is plentiful and temperatures average around 88 and 77 degrees F and our humidity will help bring out a natural glow. Summer is our peak tourist season with all the beach-going visitors. As the birds migrate during the spring and fall, our temperatures are mild and generally stay between 76 and 65 degrees. Our fall and spring seasons are some of the best times to visit and enjoy Dauphin Island’s most spectacular weather. Our winter is fairly warm and the temperature averaging between 61 and 47 degrees. Due to our warmer winters, we have many ‘snowbirds’ visit the areas. Average rainfall is low and occurs primarily between July through September.
Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, you’ll feel the difference as soon as you step foot on the Island and take in a breath of fresh Gulf air. As you surround yourself with local culture you will see that most locals have a direct connection with the landscape and the water. Locals have a passion for fishing, nature, and art. Dauphin Island is home to the world’s large Fishing Tournament, Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. We also host several art and nature events throughout the year, including the annual Art Trail, Art in the Park, and Birdfest.
Dauphin Island is also deeply rooted in history and science. As you explore the eastern end of the island you will find many of our educational institutions, such as Historic Fort Gaines. Dauphin Island is home to many research based institutions including the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, which was recently name as the Center of Excellence for the State of Alabama.
Dauphin Island thrives upon its’ emphasis on low-key, family oriented vacations. Forget road congestion, water parks and outlet malls – the island doesn’t even have need for a traffic light. Instead, envision bike paths, walking trails, miles of white sandy beaches and simplicity centered upon outdoor recreation and the environment. Dauphin Island is a true hidden gem of Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
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Quick Facts about our Facilities:
The Dauphin Island Park & Beach Board (DIPBB) is a non-profit corporation that provides recreational opportunities to the public. The DIPBB’s prime responsibilities are to provide family recreational opportunities to the public while promoting tourism to Alabama’s coast. The DIPBB has around 265 acres of parkland including 10 park facilities. The park system emphasizes leisure activities, outdoor recreation, environmental education, and public beach access. Each park facility offers a variety of programming generally directed toward the natural features and characteristics of the site.
Construction of Fort Gaines began in 1819. Most of the work on Fort Gaines was completed in 1861. On August 3 – 5, 1864 Admiral David Farragut stormed Mobile Bay. During the Battle of Mobile Bay, Farragut coined his now famous command “Damn the Torpedoes. Full Speed Ahead.” It is estimated that Fort Gaines had around 400 – 800 soldiers enlisted. Most soldiers were housed outside the Fort’s walls in the parade grounds, which is now the Dauphin Island Campground. In 1898, the Fort was modified for the Spanish – American Conflict. In 1926, the United States sold Fort Gaines to the City of Mobile. The city in turn gave the property to the Alabama Department of Conservation, which then deeded it to the Dauphin Island Park & Beach Board. Recently, Fort Gaines on the National Trust for Historic Preservation list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
Dauphin Island has been named one of the top four locations in North America for viewing fall and spring migrations! The Sanctuary consists of 133 acres of maritime forest, marshes, and dunes, including a lake, a swamp and a beach. Recently, the 3 mile trail system within the Sanctuary has been designated as a National Recreational Trail. The Sanctuary is of vital importance because it is the largest segment of protected forest on the Island and the first landfall for neo-tropical migrant birds after their long flight across the Gulf from Central and South America each spring. Here, these birds often exhausted and weakened from severe weather during the long flight, find their first food and shelter. An incredible 347 species have been reported on the island. It is also their final stop before their return flight each fall. The Bird Sanctuary has allowed Dauphin Island to be recognized by the American Bird Conservancy and the National Audubon Society as being “Globally Importance” for bird migrations.
Enjoy the sparkling sand and cool surf of the Gulf of Mexico with beautiful beachfront parks operated by the Dauphin Island Park & Beach Board. Take the hassle out of your day and relax on our naturally scenic beaches and do not forget we are the only pet friendly beach in the region. The Public Beach is famous for its 850 linear foot landlocked fishing pier.
As our Campground guest, we invite you to enjoy the natural beauty on Dauphin Island, with year-round enjoyment for the entire family. The Dauphin Island Campground offers 151 sites with include 15 tenting sites. This 155-acre park offers an abundance of exceptional recreation offerings and natural beauty. The Campground is uniquely positioned so that guests have access to a secluded beach, the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and the public boat launches. Come and relax with us as you surround yourself with friends and nature.
Have any questions or need additional information?
Sherry Cain, Interim Director
109 Bienville Blvd. Dauphin Island, AL 36528
Phone: (251) 861-3607 Fax: (251) 861-5092