Dauphin Island Gulf Paddle

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About

Summary

Get ready for some sea kayaking adventure in the Gulf of Mexico on this trip around the south side of Dauphin Island. Highlights of this trip includes the thrill of riding the waves with the salt spray in your face, large pelicans soaring all around you and diving into the blue Gulf waters for a meal, and dolphins swimming close by.

Written by

Joe Cuhaj

Distance

4.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

31.2 miles

Difficulty

4 of 5 diamonds

This is a sea kayaking trip and inherently dangerous with high waves, strong currents, and sudden pop-up storms.

Time To Complete

3 hours

Time to complete is actually variable depending on your paddling speed, weather, current, and how much time you spend taking pictures.

Seasonality

All Seasons

While anytime is a good time to paddle this trip, summertime presents the danger of numerous severe thunderstorms popping up unexpectedly and wintertime winds can make paddling impossible, not to mention the extremely cold water.

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

No

Land Website

City of Dauphin Island

Review

Intro

Get ready for some sea kayaking adventure in the Gulf of Mexico on this trip around the south side of Dauphin Island. This paddle was formerly known as the Sand Island Loop but several hurricanes all but obliterated the small island. Beach restoration efforts made this and another island, Pelican Island, into a small sand peninsula but the paddling is still spectacular. Highlights of this trip includes the thrill of riding the waves with the salt spray in your face, large pelicans soaring all around you and diving into the blue Gulf waters for a meal, and dolphins swimming close by.

What Makes It Great

Time to get off the rivers, creeks, and bayous of Alabama and try your hand at sea kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico just off the southern coast of Dauphin Island. This paddle used to be called the Sand Island Paddle but a succession of hurricanes all but obliterated the tiny island. Subsequent beach restoration took another nearby island, Pelican Island, and made it into a narrow finger of a peninsula that juts out into the Gulf. The island is gone but it still provides an amazing and breathtaking adventure.

As you head out on the horizon you see nothing but expansive blue open water with oil rigs dotting the line where sky meets ocean. Hundreds of pelicans and seagulls hang out on the shoreline keeping an eye on swimmers and you boat as you paddle by. Some of those large brown pelicans will be seen flying in formation overhead searching for a meal when one will peel off and dive bomb the water, catching his tasty treat. Fish of every type jump around your boat and as you near the southern most end of the peninsula dolphins may be seen breaching the water’s surface.

When you arrive at the public beach parking area you will need to tote your kayak down about three tenths of a mile to the water’s edge. Here you can either start on the west side of the peninsula and paddle to the east or vice versa.

Remember, sea kayaking can be a very dangerous sport. Please see the “Who is Going to Love This” and “Directions” sections for information on staying safe.

Who is Going to Love It

It goes without saying but experienced sea kayakers will love this paddle. It’s close enough to shore to get you quickly off the water in case of emergency or severe weather but offers amazing beauty and wildlife in such a short paddle. This is not a trip for beginning sea kayakers unless you have experienced guides or sea kayakers to lead you. The strong currents, heavy winds, and pop-up severe thunderstorms can be extremely dangerous.  

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Tillman’s Corner, Alabama, at the intersection of I-10 at exit 17 and AL 193 / Rangeline Rd take AL 193 south 6.4-miles and turn left to continue on AL 193 south. Travel 0.8-miles and turn right to continue on AL 193 south. Continue 17.9-miles, crossing the Dauphin Island Bridge just before the island, and turn right onto Bienville Blvd. Travel 0.9-miles and turn left into the public beach parking area. The put-in is on the south side of the parking lot. You will have to tote the kayak 0.3-miles to the water’s edge. Start either on the east side of the peninsula and paddle to the west side and paddle to the east.

As mentioned earlier, this is not a trip for beginners unless you have an experienced guide or sea kayaker with you. The current is strong, the waves can be overwhelming, and the wind and the possibility of severe pop-up thunderstorms only add to the seriousness. Always use a spray skirt especially in high seas and NEVER leave shore without notifying someone about your trip and ALWAYS wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket.

Location

Dauphin Island Gulf Paddle

Dauphin Island, Alabama, 36528
30.250105, -88.126931

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