While slowly descending into the turquoise waters of the Alabama’s Gulf Coast, you slowly breathe into your regulator as your bubbles float to the surface, and you start to take in your magnificent surroundings. You’re surrounded by several swirls of schools of colorful red snapper, amberjack, mullet, flounder and Spanish mackerel. You slowly descend some more and spy the first deck and wheelhouse of the freighter LuLu sunk in 2013. While here, you spot an octopus disappearing into its lair, a sea turtle languidly exploring the area and a few juvey tropical fish flitting about. It hits you that this artificial reef is like no other dive you have ever experienced.
After talking to your new scuba diving buddies on the return trip, you realize Alabama boasts 17,000 artificial reefs spanning 1,200 square miles. It is one of the largest artificial reef systems in the U.S, and it has helped make Gulf Shores and Orange Beach one of the top fishing destinations along the Gulf Coast as well as a scuba diving hot spot.
Speaking of fishing, did you know the area has one of the largest fishing charter fleets in the Gulf? Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have more than 100 experienced captains ready to take you out on the water and help you reel in the catch of a lifetime. You might also make a lucky catch from 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 shop for tackle and souvenirs. You don’t even have to pack your lucky fishing pole because rod and reel rentals are available at the pier. Another fishing option to consider is lounging in a beach chair with a baited pole in hand while you wait for the tide to deliver your catch. Whether you decide to explore fishing in the Gulf on a fishing charter, from the second longest pier on the Gulf or the sugar-white sand beaches, you will find plenty of snapper, amberjack, mullet, flounder, grouper and Spanish mackerel to satisfy your fishing wants and needs.
But diving and fishing aren’t the only outdoor activities in the area. Consider hopping in a kayak for a few hours and paddling Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, where you might see and hear some colorful migratory birds and maybe even spot some frolicking dolphins.
If you prefer non-water activities, explore Gulf State Park’s 6,000 acres of pristine coastline and wildlife refuge including more than 27 miles of paved hiking and biking trails along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. You might even catch a glimpse of a bobcat on the Twin Bridges Trail, spy a white-tailed deer on Gulf Oak Ridge, or spot an alligator basking in the sun in one of the freshwater marshes or coastal hardwood swamps. Or play a round or two on one of the beautiful 15 area golf courses, some of which are PGA and Golf Digest rated.
After all of the outdoor excitement you will surely have worked up an unquenchable thirst and huge appetite, so make sure you check out one of the mouth-watering restaurants found in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to grab a cold one and possibly cook-up your fresh catch. While in the area, also explore the many nightlife options available. You will be thrilled you came to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to venture into the outdoors, and you will be yearning to return soon to discover more.
For further exploration and to book your stay, visit GulfShores.com.