6 Must-Visit Islands in Alabama

Aerial view of Bayou Saint John and Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Alabama
© George Dodd III/Shutterstock.com

Written by Niccoy Walker

Updated: September 5, 2023

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5 Must-Visit Islands in Alabama
Many lake islands can’t be found on a map.

Alabama has 224 islands, including those in lakes, rivers, and ocean waters. Most of them are relatively small and used primarily for boating and swimming meetups. Some of these islands are larger, offering bird sanctuaries, fishing, and stunning views. If you’re looking for an oasis where you can hang out with friends and family, check out these six must-visit islands in Alabama.

1. Dauphin Island

Aerial view of Fort Gaines and Dauphin Island, Alabama in July of 2022

Dauphin Island is one of the must-visit islands in Alabama. Visit the pier and relax on the beach.

©George Dodd III/Shutterstock.com

This barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico is also an island town with a population of 1,700. Dauphin Island features the Gulf to the south and the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay to the north. 

This stretch of land features private residences, a historic fort, a sea lab, a bird sanctuary, restaurants, a large public pier, and long stretches of pristine beaches. You can access the island by boat, or the Gordon Persons Bridge connected to the mainland. People come here to fish, swim, boat, and birdwatch. 

Rent a beach house or stay at the Dauphin Island Harbor House, a laid-back bed and breakfast. And eat at Dority’s, a lively outdoor bar with a food truck. 

2. Ono Island

Aerial view of boats in Perdido Key beach, Florida and Ono Island, Alabama

Ono Island is a private island for the wealthy.

©George Dodd III/Shutterstock.com

Located in Perdido Bay near the Gulf of Mexico, Ono Island is a five-mile-long barrier island surrounded by the Bayou St. John. It’s close to the communities of Orange Beach, Alabama, and Perdido Key, Florida. The island is home to a private and gated community, accessed by a guarded bridge. Many celebrities and wealthy people have had property on the island, including Britney Spears, Woody Harrelson, and Jimmy Buffett. But locals tend to keep quiet about the current residents. Unless a resident invites you to visit, you’ll have to take a boat tour around the perimeter for a sneak peek.

There are no hotels on Ono Island, but you can stay on the nearby Perdido Key at one of many chain hotels. Check out the Flor-Bama Ole River Grill, where they serve seafood and po’boys right on the water.

3. Gaillard Island

Gaillard Island Alabama

Artificially created, Gaillard Island is a sanctuary for nesting birds.

©Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Gaillard Island, an artificially created island in Mobile Bay, was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They created it using mud and sand from the bay, and it is now an essential habitat for nesting seabirds, including brown pelicans. Gaillard Island is 1,300 acres and is located about 12 miles southeast of Mobile, Alabama. People can boat and jet ski around the island, but visitors are not allowed to walk on the island, as it would disturb the nesting sites of vulnerable species. However, the Audubon Society occasionally conducts birdwatching tours, which would enable you to sightsee the island and wildlife.

4. Robinson Island and Bird Island

Aerial view of Bayou Saint John and Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Alabama

Robinson and Bird Islands are popular boating and swimming spots.

©George Dodd III/Shutterstock.com

These two islands create a park in Bayou St. John near the city of Orange Beach, Alabama. The city purchased the islands to preserve flora and fauna and to create an oasis for recreators. The two islands are close to each other and provide a sanctuary for many bird species. But they also provide activities for locals and tourists. In fact, Robinson and Bird Islands are popular spots for boaters and swimmers. And 4th of July and Memorial Day are some of the busiest times to visit. You can expect hundreds of people partying in boats and along the islands. There are no hotels are restaurants on Robinson Island or Bird Island.  

5. Gravine Island

Aerial view of Five Rivers Delta in Mobile Bay, Alabama

Gravine Island is located in the Tensaw River a few miles north of Mobile Bay.

©George Dodd III/Shutterstock.com

This small natural island is in the Tensaw River, just a few miles north of Mobile Bay. There are a few residents, but the island is primarily known for its wildlife nesting sites, where you will find endangered species, like the Alabama red-bellied turtle. The island is also home to nesting bald eagles. While a significant portion of its land is covered in trees and brush, there is a small sandy beach on the north end. People can visit to watch the wildlife, visit several museums, or hang out on the beach. There are no hotels or restaurants on the island.

6. Acapulco Rock Island

Lake Martin

Acapulco Rock Island is located on Lake Martin.

©Miller Dark / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Named after the Acapulco Rock in Mexico, this small uninhabited island is located at the crescent of Lake Martin. While there are no shops, hotels, or restaurants, it’s a popular hangout for boaters, swimmers, divers, and partiers, especially during the summer holidays. Cliff diving is one of the favorite activities on Acapulco Rock Island. However, anyone jumping from the cliffs into the water should be very cautious, as several people have died from this activity.

The Must-Visit Islands in Alabama: A Recap of the Top 6

Must-Visit Islands in Alabama
1Dauphin Island
2Ono Island
3Gaillard Island
4Robinson Island and Bird Island
5Gravine Island
6Acapulco Rock Island


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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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