Dauphin Island has a rich and exciting history- full of skeletons, pirate raids, battles, and natural disasters. While the area was first mapped in the early 1500s, it was French explorer, Pierre le Moyne Sieur d'Ilberville, who decided to locate a colony here during the late 1600s. At the time, he named the island Massacre, due to the large number of skeletons he discovered. Eventually, the Island was re-named Dauphin to honor the heir to the French throne, and actually served as the capitol of the Louisiana Territory.
While Dauphin Island is certainly a popular spot for tourism, the year-round residents of this beautiful place keep development in check. As a result, visitors will discover beautiful white beaches, lush vegetation, well-maintained parks, and fabulous seafood. Boat cruises, shell searching, pier fishing, and swimming are just a few of the activities enjoyed on Dauphin Island.
The Island is especially well known for its extensive Bird Sanctuary. In fact, the entire Island is designated as a Bird Refuge, and is recognized as a part of the national system of Audubon wildlife sanctuaries. While birding is a popular sport here, the Sanctuary will be thoroughly enjoyed by all who value nature. An extensive boardwalk system helps grant access to possibly the most pristine landscape Alabama has to offer. Visitors should leave themselves plenty of time to explore this magnificent expanse.
Fort Gaines, located at the east end of the Island, has played an important role in the defense of the coastline. The War of 1812 initiated the construction of Fort Gaines, which began in 1821. Completed in the mid 1800s, it has been used for a variety of defense purposes- most notably, during the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay. Today, the Fort makes for a worthwhile stop, offering visitors an extensive history of this region.
Dauphin Island, Alabama is a barrier island located approximately 30 miles south of Mobile, and can be reached via Route 193.
It should be noted that Dauphin Island suffered from the hurricanes of 2005, and is in the process of fully re-establishing itself.