The Best Place to Camp on Dauphin Island
The sleepy beach town of Dauphin Island has really grown on Josh and I this past year. It’s close to home, it’s underdeveloped (this is good, in our opinion), and the word “touristy” never comes to mind. These few points makes it close to perfect for us. We’ve camped the island 4 times in the past 12 months, and because we’ve stayed at a few different campgrounds, we now know the best place to camp on Dauphin Island! Read on, campers, read on.
Location & Season
Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board
109 Bienville Boulevard
Dauphin Island, Alabama
Visit: February 22-25, 2018
Its funny looking back at the first time we came to Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board… because it was THE VERY FIRST trip we took in our camper. A one-nighter to make sure we knew what the heck we were doing (heyyyy, we did!). Almost exactly one year later, we came back – and to some major upgrades!
Campsites are great for the most part. Josh has expressed that if they would remove 15-20 sites, it would make for a better campground. Sure, there’s less availability, but we’re looking at it from an angle of “not as crowded” – there are some sites we wonder how campers even got in there! Many of the sites are full hookup, which is awesome, but they book you to your spot by length (so you’re not promised full hookup nor have we ever gotten it). All this being said, we’ve really been happy with our spots we’ve stayed for one reason or another.
Since our first visit, these have actually been rebuilt. THEY ARE BRAND NEW! As nerdy this may sound, I have to say I’m impressed – right down to the white subway tile and wooden beachy ceiling panels (observant much?). 6 sinks, 4 bathroom stalls and 3 lockable stall showers in both men and women’s. The building also includes a laundry room, which we did not use.
Not much I can say from personal experience here (although, I was eyeing the merry-go-round), but this is a brand new playground that is open to little campers and is still a work in progress – from what I could see of the disassembled mystery playground parts lying around the sand.
Between the blue and yellow sections is a short wooded path that opens up to sand and sea – a perfect beach spot for the duration of the trip! There are, of course, other places to drive for beach access, but we didn’t find it necessary. Something to note: and this is either a great thing or a horrible thing depending on your love for dogs, but the beaches at Dauphin Island are dog friendly when on a leash (we love this).
Staff & Reservations
We had a few issues here. First, because they don’t have a booking software, the phones are CONSTANTLY busy. I had to call 109 times in a row until I got through (seriously… 109). From there, the reservation was almost too easy. They wrote our name down and said they wouldn’t take payment until we got there. Well we ran into a bit of a problem. The website said gates close at 9pm (with us leaving after work, we thought we had plenty of time). Well, good thing we called for a gate code because the girl working said that they close at 7pm. That was an issue. We wouldn’t arrive until 8:15pm.
Although we thought no big deal, she stated that they didn’t do late check-ins. Read that again to save yourself the same trouble: NO LATE CHECK-INS!!! This, my friends, means we would have been stranded overnight. Thank God Josh is a sweet talker (I don’t have this gift) because she reluctantly agreed to leave us a gate key – after waiting an hour to call us back. PHEW!
A few extras we enjoyed on the island:
Ice Cream and milkshakes! Need I say more? This is right outside of the entrance of the park with a nice waterfront view. They also have burgers and things of that nature, but you better believe we went for the vanilla and chocolate swirl waffle cone. Fun fact: Formerly known as Billy Goat Cafe, they were served a cease and desist letter by the world-famous Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago sometime in 2017. Simply put, they aren’t too thrilled about it.
Free Magazines & Books
A quick drive down the main road toward town will take you to the historic little red schoolhouse, which was recently renovated into the Dauphin Island Welcome Center (after old timers refused to let them knock it down). You might be welcomed by 2 very sweet older ladies who are more than excited to show you around the 1-room museum, but we went for the free magazines. Take as many as you want “AND DON’T BRING THEM BACK”, the women joked.
A short walk from Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board is the historic site of Fort Gaines. We really didn’t walk the whole fort on this last trip like we should have, but we’ll be back soon.
We can’t believe we never realized these trails were here before! The Audubon Bird Sanctuary consists of 137 acres of maritime forest, marshes, and dunes, including a lake, a swamp, and a beach (dauphinisland.org). These trails were great for walking the dog and stretching our legs in the morning before we cut out to the beach for the day. Just apply your bug spray!
Yes, yes, and yes! We enjoy this campground and the island more with each visit. I think we can both speak for Emek that he approves the beaches for all dogs looking to visit in the future! We’re excited to spend more summer weekends here.
8 out of 10 Rolling Lolas
We think this is the best place to camp on Dauphin Island because this campground has a great mix of a “woodsy” camp and a beachy camp. We love that the campground is connected to plenty of trails we can walk our dog and see lots of wildlife, while a short walk in the other direction is wide-open, dog-friendly beach! The fact that this campground has a new bathroom facility and playground makes it obvious that the owners want to make sure the place is in good shape, and that’s important for future visits. It’s fun to find places so close to home that we can explore and take adventures, and we love that Dauphin Island has a small-town beach vibe that hasn’t been overrun by commercial businesses and lots of people.
* If you’re a first time viewer, Rolling Lola is our 2017 Cherokee Wolf-Pup 18TO. Rolling Lola ratings are based on the opinions of a happily married couple that love to camp. They are in no way a refection of the experience you are going to have at the campground specified (Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board). Please camp at your own risk and have an amazing time!