Well, here recently my friend Steve told me that he had a little over a week off and that his wife Suki wanted to go to the North Carolina mountains. I told him that it was going to be cold and that they had a dog (a miniature Schnauzer) who had never seen the beach. They usually go to the Pensacola area in late October or early November as they love to fish. He said that Ft Pickens campground was booked up and so was Big Lagoon State Park. I suggested we go to Dauphin Island as I wanted to go back there and that it is a dog friendly island and Bella could go to the beach with them.
I made reservations to arrive Nov 2 and depart on Nov 6th, asking that they get us together if at all possible. (You cannot reserve specific sites, they place you by length and power/sewer needs.)
I got a good start on Tuesday morning and gained an hour crossing time zones. Steve is 50 miles further drive and got a later start. The brought an 18 yo girl with them who they had helped raise (Suki is Korean and the girl, Ungi, is the daughter of friends of hers).
I beat them there and we had been given two sites totally by ourselves on an otherwise unoccupied loop, not 50 ft from where I had been in 2018.
While the campground is pretty decent, there is room for improvement. The Parks and Beach Board owns the campground and apparently the city is disgusted with the way the campground is being maintained and operated. An agreement has been reached for the city to assume ownership and operation of the campground on Jan 1st 2022. All of the park employees told me they were elated and looking for many changes and improvements. The city had people out locating and flagging water and power lines, measuring the streets and other things to inventory what was there.
Anyhow, I drove to my site and stood there trying to figure out exactly how the site is laid out and where to back in at. It’s all sand and trees and such, picnic tables moved about and not in places you would expect. The two maintenance men came by on a Gator and paused, I guess because I looked so confused. Anyhow, at their suggestion, pulled into site 50 and circled into site 51 so I was headed out (I could have backed in just as easily) When Steve arrived, he pulled in so his trailer was facing mine and had enough room to worm his truck out.
There were notices up at the campground and also electronic signs on the highway coming into the island telling us the power would be out on Wednesday from 9 am until 5 pm for the power company to do some work.
I’m not a fisherman but am willing to follow them about, so on Wednesday we went first to one of the jetties, and then to the beach about 3 miles away near the school. There is a long fishing pier there but it is now surrounded by sand and the beach is moved about a hundred yards further out than before hurricane Sally in 2020. The storm totally washed away a small sand island called Pelican island and moved it to this section of the beach.
This storm was broadcast live by a storm chaser, from Dauphin Island, I watched part of it live when he was broadcasting it on YouTube. https://youtu.be/jwbknQmTAeY
Here is one other video showing some of the storm damage. https://youtu.be/FT6DmKXdmFQ
After trying their hand at fishing with little luck on Wednesday, we got back to the campground and rode the ferry’s 5 PM trip to Ft Morgan so we could catch the sunset on the return. Its $6 per person on foot ($20 per vehicle and driver and $6 extra for each additional passenger). It was a rather chilly ride across the bay but we did get to see dolphins’ mid-way across.
We prepared a decent dinner on Steve’s Camp Chef stove outside doing thin sliced ribs on the griddle and salad. This was the last time we would prepare an outdoor dinner, as the wind picked up to about 20 mph and never let up.
Thursday was fishing at the beach behind the campground and I walked some of the trails in the 100 acre Audubon Bird Sanctuary that adjoins the campground.
Friday we went thru the Estuarium and then back to the beach. I got in my truck and drove around the island and then went to the beach. When we packed up due to darkness we went across the street to the Islanders Restaurant Islandners Restaurant & Bar
where we had some good (but expensive) food.
I should note that you can walk virtually everywhere if you like. The ferry is right across the street, and a short walk on the Ft Morgan side to the fort itself (a state park), Ft Gaines is about three blocks from the campground, the Estuarium is about two blocks, the east end beach is a short walk down a trail out the back of the campground and the bird sanctuary is accessed via two different gates from the campground. You can rent golf carts from Island Fun Rentals.
I’ll let the few pics I took tell some of the story. A few of the pic are from my 2018 trip, as I took many more pics that trip.
Campground map at the bottom of the page. They do not reserve specific sites, just assign sites based on water, elect, sewer as you request. Note: this may change after the first of the year, when the Town government takes over the campground from the Beach and Parks Board, an entirely separate entity.
Things to do https://www.dauphinisland.org/things-to-do
Bird Sanctuary https://www.dauphinisland.org/birding-and-nature
Ft Gaines https://www.dauphinisland.org/fort-gaines/
Ft Morgan http://fort-morgan.org/
Mobile Bay Ferry https://mobilebayferry.com/
Battleship Alabama (and a submarine and many aircraft) https://www.ussalabama.com/
Bellingrath Gardens and Home https://bellingrath.org/