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Dauphin Island Trip Report

Old Jul 26th, 2008, 08:27 AM
  #1  
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Dauphin Island Trip Report

This is PScott reporting back about her family's recent trip to Dauphin Island, Alabama.

All in all, we had a very nice time. As we knew it would be, the island is very small (I think 6 or 7 miles from end to end), and there is not a wide variety of restaurants on the actual island but we were warned so were not surprised.

The beach in front of our condo was very nice, although it bothered my husband that it was right next to the main public beach. You had to walk out a bit to get to deeper water but the kids had a great time finding hermit crabs and splashing about. There were quite a bit of jellyfish the day after we had a bad storm, but the water was clear the rest of the week so we just stayed by the pool that day.

Traffic was an issue only on Saturday and Sunday of last week. This was due to the fact there was a big weekend-long fishing tournament in progress when we arrived. After driving around a bit the first day to check things out, we decided to stay close to the condo until the tournament was over. Once everyone left, traffic was not a problem on at all.

As for food options -- we did try a couple of the restaurants on the island when they were open (we found many were closed on Monday and Tuesdays for some reason), and we were not particularly impressed with the few we tried. I know most beach restaurants offer mainly fried food, but it would have been nice to have something on the menu you could get that was grilled or broiled. We did buy some wonderfully fresh shrimp one night and fixed them back in the condo one night.

The condo we stayed in called Holiday Isle has only been open a year and only about 1/3 of the units have been purchased so far so it is not overly crowded. While the outside of the building is very dystopian looking (the parking deck faces the outside and goes up the first 3 floors), the inside of the condo was lovely. (I think it was one of the nicest, most well appointed beach condos we've ever been in... nice cookware, sharp Henckel knives, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops in the kitchen.) The unit had a nice layout, lovely Pottery Barn furniture and a huge balcony with lots of nice outdoor furniture that we all enjoyed every morning and late afternoon.
The condo also had a great workout room on the second floor that jutted out over the indoor and outdoor pool and faced the beach. I could work out in the mornings and watch my husband take the kids to the pool or beach. The w/o room had 4 treadmills, 4 ellipticals, two bikes and this huge weight machine contraption, plus 3 flat screen tvs and a punching bag area. Very nice but could have used better ventilation as it go hot in there.

For breaks in the afternoon, we drove around the island a bit (as you can expect, there are a lot of homes for sale like most beach areas down there), and took the kids to Fort Gaines and the Estuarium. The kids enjoyed both places.

All in all, it was a very pleasant and relaxing trip and I would recommend Dauphin Island for those not looking for lots to do other than relax and spend time at the beach or pool.

PScott
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Old Jul 26th, 2008, 02:40 PM
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Thanks so much for this report! I was concerned that you and your family would be disappointed, but apparently forewarned was forearmed.

Good for you that you were engaged and comfortable in your surroundings. I've always thought that it is the traveler - rather than the destination - that makes a good travel experience
SusanCS is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2008, 04:29 PM
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I agree, thank you so much for the report. I'm glad you made the most of the area and had a good family vacation. Some areas, like Dauphin Island, get very little feedback so this is a really nice addition to the Fodor's search function.

AustinTraveler is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2008, 04:56 PM
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Thanks for the report. Dauphin Island has many happy memories for me. When I was a child way back in the early 60s, we lived in Mobile. Many summer days the neighborhood moms would get together and drive the kids to the Dauphin Island for a beach day. So much fun! I haven't been to Dauphin Island since I was a child but as I only live a few hours away, I may have to make a trip to check things out. Thanks for bringing back those childhood memories!
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Old Jul 26th, 2008, 06:55 PM
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Thanks so much for the great TR, especially since it's about Dauphin Island. Like Sue, I have great childhood memories of that area. It's still a beautiful today. Did you take the ferry across Mobile Bay to Fort Morgan?

How did you book your condo? I would like to go back there this fall, I think. Thank you.
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Old Jul 27th, 2008, 04:52 AM
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Someone once told me that Dauphin Island is one of the best places to collect shells. Would you say this is true?
travelerfromtx is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2008, 07:03 PM
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I also have good childhood memories of DI. The dunes used to be huge & were quite a chore for a small child to conquer going from parking area to beach!

No, I don't remember it being a great shell seekers area, but things change, maybe it is now?

We were at Indian Pass/Cape San Blas, FL last weekend. They seemed to have plenty of shells. Cape San Blas has lots of scallop shells.
It is also a quiet area with not much 'action'. Large stretches of rather empty beaches.

PScott: Thank you for sharing your trip report! I'm glad you enjoyed your trip.
olesouthernbelle is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2008, 03:47 AM
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This is PScott again. I am glad you all enjoyed my trip report. It was a wonderful trip and I am very glad we gave Dauphin Island a try.

No, we never did take the ferry over to Fort Morgan, although we considered it. However, between the heat (it was in the mid-90's at least every day), the wait, and the cost (I think it would have been almost $40 for our family of 4 to take our car over there and back), we decided against the ferry. We have been to Fort Morgan many times so it wasn't a difficult decision. We did however drive over to Coden (which is a small town off the island up Route 188 towards Bayou La Batre)to visit a relative who is rebuilding his weekend home there. He had come down to check on his home and called us to meet him for dinner. What a lovely little area it was! It only took us about 15 - 20 minutes to get there from our condo and it was well worth the trip. While many people are still rebuilding their homes, they are making progress and the area is coming back. We went by the shipyard where they built the Pirates of the Caribbean boat and my kids were fascinated with the story of the building of that boat. We ate at a nice little family restaurant and visited some of our relative's friends who are also rebuilding their home. Their 180 year old home was completely blown away and they are still rebuilding. We walked around their property while the kids fished with their kids, and saw the most beautiful old oak trees with spanish moss dripping from the branches. It was like being on one of the plantation tours in Louisiana and I can see why they want to rebuild in the same spot.
As for our unit in Dauphin Island, we actually rented our unit through the vacation-by-owner site, VRBO.com. (You can go there and search under Dauphin Island and find different units...). Meyer Realty also happened to have an office there and I think they rent the majority of the units so you can also rent through them directly.
And finally, no, we didn't see many shells at all on the beach. We did however see many, many hermit crabs in the shallow sand and lots of fish close the shore.
Hope this info. helps future D.I. travelers!
PScott
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Old Jul 28th, 2008, 04:09 AM
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I was reared in Mobile, & hadn't heard that the "Pirates" ship was built in Coden.

We used to go there, many moons ago for some great seafood at a restaurant that led you through the kitchen to be seated! They now have branches in Mobile - 'The Catalina'.
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Old Jul 28th, 2008, 09:21 AM
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I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant.... We didn't walk through the kitchen but it was one that had been around for a long time.

The story we heard was that they built the facade of an old pirates ship on top of regular boat down there... don't know all the details (or even how true it is, but that is what we were told.

There is not much there in Coden but I think in a few years (if the area isn't hit by a hurricane again), that will be the next area that is built up which would probably be a shame but good for the economy there....
PScott is offline  
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