Golden sands stretching for miles, gentle waves caressing the shores, and sun-kissed horizons welcoming each dawn—this is Gulf Shores, Alabama’s coastal jewel.
Whether you’re a seasoned beachcomber, an adventure enthusiast, or someone seeking solace by the sea, Gulf Shores promises a beach just right for you.
From the lively volleyball matches at public beaches to the tranquil moments at secluded spots, our guide unveils the top beach destinations around.
Pack your sunscreen, grab your hat, and let’s set sail to explore the best beaches near Gulf Shores.
1. Gulf Shores Public Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 1 mile
- Activities: swimming, shell hunting, sunbathing, volleyball
- Facilities: umbrella and chair rental, restroom, shower, boardwalk, picnic tables, parking, volleyball court
Gulf Shores Public Beach, located at the crossroads of Gulf Shores Parkway and West Beach Blvd, is the main beach access on this long shoreline.
This expansive coastal haven ensures ample space for every visitor, complemented by a scenic boardwalk adorned with shade awnings, verdant patches, and inviting picnic spots.
Updated restrooms, efficient shower stations, and easy-to-access rinse points ensure a hassle-free experience.
Families can bask in the sun, engage in lively volleyball matches, or let children frolic in the dedicated playground.
Nearby, a tapestry of beachside eateries offers delectable refreshments, while the occasional dolphin sighting elevates the experience.
Parking is facilitated with several stations, though priced variably.
All in all, Gulf Shores promises an unparalleled beachside sojourn, with its myriad amenities and activities.
2. Gulf State Park Pavilion
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 4 miles
- Activities: swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, shell hunting
- Facilities: showers, bathrooms, parking, pavilion, boardwalk, picnic area, umbrella and chair rental, picnic tables
Visitors to Gulf State Park Pavilion are greeted with meticulously maintained facilities and the embrace of pristine white sands.
A short 3-minute stroll reveals a less-crowded beach, ensuring a tranquil escape.
Not just a haven for beach lovers, the area boasts impeccable trails for enthusiasts to hike, cycle, or simply revel in nature’s beauty.
The pavilion is accentuated by restrooms, covered seating boasting panoramic beach vistas, and a boardwalk complete with an external sand-rinsing shower.
Rentals of beach chairs and umbrellas are conveniently available, and the adjacent parking, although fee-based, integrates seamlessly with the Gulf State Park Campground pass.
This beachfront gem is a harmonious blend of relaxation and activity, making it an ideal family destination.
3. Romar Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 6 miles
- Activities: swimming, sunbathing, picnicking
- Facilities: parking, condos, hotels
Located just 6 miles east of Gulf Shores, Romar Beach Access offers an idyllic spot for those spontaneous picnics or swift shoreline ambles.
While its current amenities might be modest – think limited parking and no showers – that’s all set to change.
Exciting renovations, commencing April 18th, 2023, will usher in a spacious parking lot and a fresh, modern bathhouse for beachgoers.
However, while it’s a picturesque part of the Gulf State Park, peak times can see it bustling.
4. 13th Street Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 2 miles
- Activities: sunbathing, shell hunting, bodyboarding, fishing, volleyball
- Facilities: parking, restrooms, showers, boardwalk, volleyball nets
Located west of Gulf Shores, 13th Street Beach offers visitors a pristine haven of white sands and azure waters, it’s one of the most popular beach access point in the area.
This beach boasts an impeccable reputation for cleanliness and easy accessibility, with paid and free public parking options directly across the street.
Patrons have the luxury of public restrooms equipped with changing areas and the convenience of outdoor showers at the wooden boardwalk’s end.
With a backdrop of soft sands and tranquil waves, an engaging game of beach volleyball is but a net away.
Those looking for a more relaxed pace can indulge in seashell hunting or sit back on benches designed for wave watching.
First-timers and frequent visitors alike laud the spot for its ambiance, making it a must-visit for both families and solo travelers.
Stay safe and enjoy 13th Street Beach’s coastal charm.
5. Ft. Morgan Fishing Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 22 miles
- Activities: swimming, camping, fishing, shell hunting, sunbathing
- Facilities: parking, restroom, shower
For those seeking a serene beach experience, Ft. Morgan Fishing Beach is the ideal destination.
Nestled at the end of the Alabama Gulf, this secluded haven offers soft sand, abundant shells, and breathtaking sunsets.
But the true allure lies beneath the waves and in the skies.
From playful dolphins and tiny sharks to a diverse array of birds including sandpipers and pelicans, nature puts on a captivating display.
Many visitors bring along their fishing gear, enjoying a rewarding catch by the water’s edge.
While the beach is a slight walk from the parking area, the path is flat and paved, making it accessible.
Though remote with no lifeguards or restrooms, its tranquility and charm make Ft. Morgan Fishing Beach a treasured spot for both locals and tourists alike.
6. Fort Morgan Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 22 miles
- Activities: shell hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, wading, swimming
- Facilities: dog-friendly, bathroom, parking
Fort Morgan Beach, located a short 30-minute drive from Gulf Shores’ hotel strip, is a delightful fusion of historic allure and beachside beauty.
This iconic Alabama site boasts a meticulously maintained fort, complemented by an insightful museum, making it an ideal family-friendly spot.
Visitors can meander along the beach, discover large shells, or spot dolphins playfully swimming nearby.
Pet owners will be pleased to know the beach is dog-friendly.
Additionally, the fort offers a unique backdrop for photography enthusiasts, with its intriguing stonework and panoramic views.
While the sun’s intensity can be strong, the breathtaking surroundings more than make up for it.
Nearby amenities include clean restrooms and a boat ramp, ensuring a day filled with both exploration and relaxation.
History buffs and beach lovers alike will find Fort Morgan Beach a must-visit.
7. Cotton Bayou Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 7 miles
- Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, surfing
- Facilities: lifeguard, bathroom, showers, parking, boardwalk, umbrella and chair rental
Nestled within the heart of Orange Beach lies the serene Cotton Bayou Beach, like Romar Beach, it is managed by Gulf State Park.
Adorned with pristine white sands and lapped by lukewarm waters, this coastal gem beckons vacationers looking for a relaxed experience.
Whether it’s a day of sunbathing, feeding gulls, or observing crab hunters at work, the beach offers a myriad of activities for all.
Among its standout features is the presence of a lifeguard, ensuring visitors’ safety as they immerse in the ocean’s embrace.
Easy access parking, affordable rates, and spotless public restrooms elevate the beach experience.
Though showers are located externally, they offer a refreshing cooldown post-beach fun.
The lenient tent regulations provide flexibility for beachgoers, allowing for a more personalized setup.
Cotton Bayou Beach stands as a top choice, delivering a blend of leisure and convenience.
8. Alabama Point East
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 10 miles
- Activities: fishing, shell hunting, swimming, sunbathing
- Facilities: parking, showers, lifeguards, bathroom, picnic tables, boardwalk
Alabama Point East, a treasure on the Alabama Gulf Coast, is celebrated for its immaculate shores and enticing vistas.
Perfect for families, the beach offers a plethora of activities, from cycling and jogging to the simple joys of shell collecting.
Ensuring an enjoyable experience, it features lifeguards, well-maintained restrooms, and convenient showers.
Foodies won’t be disappointed with nearby tantalizing restaurants.
Notably, its close proximity to the acclaimed Gulf State Park amplifies its allure.
With a minimal parking fee, visitors have the choice of three bridge pathways, each leading to the same picturesque beachfront.
While here, marvel at the passing boats, witness breathtaking sunsets, and perhaps, with a bit of luck, spot the elusive shark.
Alabama Point East is undeniably a must-visit, blending natural beauty with top-tier amenities.
9. Perdido Key State Park
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 15 miles
- Activities: snorkeling, kayaking, biking, picnicking, surfing
- Facilities: bathrooms, showers, parking, pavilion, boardwalk
Nestled in the heart of the Gulf Coast, Perdido Key State Park shines as a serene retreat for beach lovers.
With pristine white sands and sun-soaked shores, this haven offers a refreshing respite for all.
Visitors can indulge in an array of activities – from leisurely beach walks and fishing to engaging snorkeling sessions amidst rich marine life.
Families relish the park’s clean and spacious bathrooms, convenient showers, and inviting picnic spots, both shaded and sunlit.
Enthusiasts can opt for kayak rentals or bike rides along scenic trails.
Educational bonuses abound, with informative rangers like Robin shedding light on local wildlife, including the fascinating sea turtle preservation efforts.
As an untouched gem, Perdido Key promises both relaxation and discovery, making it an unmissable destination.
10. Perdido Key Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 16 miles
- Activities: shell hunting, camping, picnicking, fishing, kayaking
- Facilities: parking, pavilions, bathrooms, showers
Situated close to the Alabama-Florida border, Perdido Key Beach stands as Florida’s hidden treasure, offering a tranquil alternative to the bustling Panhandle beaches.
This mesmerizing shoreline boasts velvety white sands and shimmering blue-green waters where playful dolphins occasionally grace the horizon.
Apart from its scenic allure, the beach is endowed with ample amenities: spacious pavilions, immaculate restrooms, and handy showers.
Adding to its charm, there’s no gatekeeper, allowing visitors to seamlessly transition from parking to paradise.
Nearby, delightful dining options abound and courteous staff like Marvin and John ensure a memorable experience.
From witnessing the majestic herons and pelicans to soaking up the serene vibes, Perdido Key Beach seamlessly merges nature’s grandeur with top-notch facilities, making it an essential visit for those seeking coastal rejuvenation.
11. Johnson Beach National Seashore
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 18 miles
- Activities: picnicking, fishing, swimming, sunbathing
- Facilities: parking, bathroom, pavilion, showers, lifeguard, boardwalk
Tucked away from the regular hustle and bustle, Johnson Beach National Seashore is a pristine coastal retreat.
A magnet for both locals and visitors, this expansive shoreline offers not only sparkling waters and immaculate sands but also a plethora of amenities to cater to every beachgoer.
With ample parking and facilities like clean restrooms, showers, and shaded picnic pavilions, comfort is guaranteed.
Lifeguards remain vigilant, ensuring safety while you soak up the sun.
Nature enthusiasts can cherish the site’s respect for nesting birds and explore walking trails.
Additionally, military members can revel in free access.
Whether seeking solitude, a family picnic, or a scenic run to Fort McRee, Johnson Beach presents an unparalleled blend of natural beauty and top-tier facilities.
12. Dauphin Island East End Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 22 miles + ferry
- Activities: fishing, shell hunting, fishing, sunbathing, kayaking, surfing
- Facilities: restrooms, parking, dog-friendly
A short ferry hop from Fort Morgan, Dauphin Island East End Beach beckons visitors with its unique blend of natural beauty and modern amenities.
It’s not just the humans who relish this coastal charm—dogs are welcome, making it a haven for pet owners.
Notably, improved parking facilities ensure a hassle-free experience for beachgoers.
Beyond sunbathing, the cove offers a gentle spot for paddleboarding, and at night, the star-studded sky captivates.
For those with a penchant for marine life, playful dolphins occasionally make a delightful appearance.
With fishing spots and clean sands, this beach effortlessly marries tranquility with activity, making it a must-visit spot.
13. Dauphin Island Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 30 miles + ferry
- Activities: hiking, shell hunting, picnicking, fishing, swimming, sunbathing
- Facilities: dog-friendly, parking, boardwalk, showers, restroom, picnic tables, swings, pavilion
Another option on the gorgeous Dauphin Island, Dauphin Island Beach offers a pristine shoreline and promises an unrivaled beach experience.
Accessible via ferry, the island’s white, fine sand rivals those of Florida and Hawaii.
While the serene beach is a haven for families, it also welcomes furry friends, being one of the few truly dog-friendly locales.
Thoughtfully designed boardwalks ensure accessibility for all, with paths leading visitors through dunes, a testament to the island’s commitment to preserving its delicate ecosystem.
Cleanliness is paramount here, evidenced by litter-free sands and crystal-clear waters where playful dolphins occasionally make an appearance.
Amenities, including showers, public restrooms, and BBQ spots, seamlessly blend convenience with natural beauty.
For a minimal fee, visitors can secure parking and delve into the beach’s tranquility, making it a must-visit destination.
14. Pensacola Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 42 miles
- Activities: shell hunting, fishing, bodyboarding, surfing, sunbathing
- Facilities: lifeguard, fishing pier, restroom, shower, parking, umbrella and chair rental
Pensacola Beach, often described as a paradisiacal escape, boasts crystalline waters shimmering in hues of blues and greens.
Visitors frequently revel in delightful encounters with marine life, from playful dolphins to curious crabs.
The pristine white sands, perfect for leisurely walks and seashell hunting, provide an ideal backdrop for witnessing stunning sunrises and sunsets.
For those seeking more than natural splendor, the beach brims with amenities.
Easily accessible public parking, wheelchair ramps, and beach mats ensure inclusivity for all.
Lifeguards vigilantly oversee the waters, offering added safety.
Nearby, the bustling promenade offers a myriad of dining options, shops, and entertainment, including a popular pier ideal for fishing or strolling.
Truly, Pensacola Beach seamlessly blends relaxation with recreation, making it a must-visit coastal destination.
15. Langdon Beach
- Distance from Gulf Shores: 49 miles
- Activities: paddle boarding, hiking, camping, fishing, sunbathing
- Facilities: bathrooms, showers, parking, dog-friendly, picnic tables, pavilions
Nestled close to the renowned Fort Pickens, Langdon Beach offers visitors a tranquil retreat with its pristine white sands and clear waters.
The beach impressively marries natural beauty with top-notch facilities.
Well-maintained restrooms, showers, and ample parking ensure a hassle-free experience for beachgoers.
Those looking to bask in the shade will appreciate the large covered ramadas, complete with picnic tables.
The beach’s gently lapping waves cater to both thrill-seeking children and those in search of calmer waters.
An added spectacle for many is the mesmerizing sight of jets, including the famed Blue Angels, soaring above.
With its minimal crowds and picturesque setting, Langdon Beach promises a serene escape.
And with entry valid for a week, visitors have ample time to relish its offerings.