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

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 plenty of fun things to do inthe Gulfno matter what time of year you visit. 

Swim with a wide variety of marine life at the four new snorkeling reefs in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Two are locatednear Gulf State Park’s pavilion, one is at Alabama Point, and the other is at Romar Beach. Or you might enjoy snorkeling The Alabama Point jetties in Orange Beach, the Whiskey Wreck in Gulf Shores or the Paddle Wheeler inGulf Shores where marine life abounds. 

Want to dive into deeper waters? Scuba dive the New Venture, a 250-foot long former research vessel, sunk about 20 miles off the coast of Orange Beach. Divers may encounter a variety of marine life, from goliath grouper, red snapper, amberjack, mullet, and flounder to Spanish mackerel. Or practice your diving skills at the LuLu, a freighter sunk in 2013, where you might spot an octopus, sea turtle and some juvey tropical fish. One of the uniquedive sites in Alabama’s waters is Poseidon’s Playground featuring statues of Venus, Apollo, andPoseidon. The statues provide a stable surface for algae, corals, barnacles, andoysters to grow which attract schools of colorful fish.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are known for sugar-white sand beachesbut are also home to one of the largest fishing charter fleets in the Gulf of Mexico. There are more than 100 experienced captainswho know all the best fishing spots, both inshore and offshore.Another lucky fishing spot among anglers is The Gulf State Park Pier. It offers 2,448 feet of prime Gulf Coast fishing space along its rails, as well as a concession area and a bait and tackle shop renting out rods and reels. The fishing opportunities are endless on Alabama’s Gulf Coast from inshore and offshore, pier fishing, shore fishing to fresh water fishing; you’resure to go home with some good fishing stories.

After reeling in your fresh catch,take it to a nearby restaurant to be cooked while you relax with a cold brew and enjoy the views.

A Paradise for Birders, Kayakers, Hikers, and Bikers 

The Alabama Gulf Coast’s nature preserves and wildlife refuges are filledwith unspoiled natural beauty and diverse wildlife. 

Spend a day hiking and biking at Gulf State Park, and explore its nine distinct ecosystems that include coastal dunes, maritime forests and coastal hardwood swamps. On your adventures, you might spotan alligator basking in the sun or a white-tailed deer grazing on foliageamong the park’s 6,000 acres.The park’s Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail includes more than 27 miles of paved, winding scenic paths, and the live animal displays at the park’s nature center includeowls, rabbits, snakes andother native wildlife. The park also offers guided nature walks, beachwalks, pier walks and other educational programs. A new Interpretive Center opened in November and featuresboth indoor and outdoor educational exhibits. One of only 16 certified Living Buildings in the world, it is completely self-sufficient, generates its ownpower and collects, stores and treats rainwater. 

Consider hopping in a kayak for a few hours, admiring the beauty of the scenic waterways and exploring the natural shorelines of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge contains more than 7,000 acres and is a safe harbor for more than 370 species of birds, the endangered Alabama beach mouse, and loggerhead and Kemp Ridley sea turtles. You can also hike more than nine miles of trails including dunes, swales, wetlands, maritime forests and scrub habitats. During your explorations, you might even spot some frolicking dolphins.

The Alabama Gulf Coast is also a birding hotspot,especially during the spring. It’s a resting point for colorful migratory birds making their way north. In fact,the Birmingham Audubon Society conducts annual bird banding events at Fort Morgan and guests are welcome to attend. It’s a great opportunity to observe the researchers at work and get up-close-and-personal with some amazing birds. There is no charge to attend the banding, but park admission fees apply. This year’s event takes place April 16-20. 

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

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