You’ll fall in love with the great outdoors in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Breathe in the fresh Gulf air and enjoy the sunshine as you explore the area’s ecosystems, wildlife refuges, snorkeling and dive sites, back bays, and more. 

A Paradise for Kayakers, Hikers, and Bikers 

Spend a day hiking and biking at Gulf State Park. The park’s 6,000 acres include nine distinct ecosystems such as coastal dunes, maritime forests and coastal hardwood swamps. More than 27 miles of paved, scenic paths make up the park’s Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail which winds through the park, and into parts of both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

Stop by the park’s Nature Center to learn about the native wildlife. The center has live animals on display and offers educational programs such as guided nature, beach and pier walks. The park’s Interpretive Center includes both indoor and outdoor educational exhibits. One of only 16 certified Living Buildings in the world, the Interpretive Center is entirely self-sufficient, generates its own power and collects, stores and treats rainwater.  

Admire the beauty of the scenic waterways and explore the natural shorelines of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge’s 7,000 acres are a safe harbor to more than 370 species of birds, the endangered Alabama beach mouse, and loggerhead and Kemp Ridley sea turtles. Nine miles of trails include dunes, swales, wetlands, maritime forests and scrub habitats. During your explorations, you might even spot some frolicking dolphins.

Diving, Snorkeling and Fishing, Oh My!

With mild water temperatures throughout the year and over 17,000 artificial reefs spanning 1,200 square miles, you’ll find ample opportunities for fishing and diving. 

There are four new snorkeling reefs in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Two are located near Gulf State Park’s beach pavilion, one is at Alabama Point, and the fourth is at Romar Beach. The Alabama Point jetties, Whiskey Wreck and Paddle Wheeler are favorite snorkeling spots, and one of the area’s most unique diving/snorkeling sites is Poseidon’s Playground, a statue garden. 

Want to dive into deeper waters? The New Venture is a 250-foot long former research vessel, sunk about 20 miles off the coast of Orange Beach. Or practice your diving skills at the LuLu, a freighter sunk in 2013. 

Orange Beach is home to one of the largest charter fishing fleets in the Gulf of Mexico. With more than 100 experienced captains offering a variety of trip options, there’s a charter experience for anyone wishing to return home with a fish tale or two. 

If pier fishing is more your style, the Gulf State Park Pier offers 2,448 feet of prime Gulf Coast fishing space along its rails, and includes a concession area and bait and tackle shop. After reeling in your catch, several area restaurants are happy to prepare it while you relax with a cold brew and enjoy the views. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

The Wild Side

Venture out on a kayak and explore the peaceful and scenic back bays or hit the trails in search of native wildlife. Some of the larger-than-life species you might see include dolphins, sea turtles, alligators, ospreys, the great blue heron, even the majestic bald eagle. 

Plan your outdoor adventure along the Gulf Coast today. And remember to take nothing but photographs and leave only footprints. Request a free nature guide at GulfShores.com/plan/vacation-guide.

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