Explore the Nature in Orange Beach and Along the Alabama Gulf Coast

loggerhead turtles
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Are you looking to plan a beach getaway this summer? Located along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Orange Beach sits near the border of Florida and offers an endless playground of nature and outdoor recreation. Whether you’re looking for a white sand beach to unwind with a good book, a nature trail to search for native and migratory birds, or a waterway to cruise along, Orange Beach is an idyllic outdoor destination.

We’ve compiled a few of our favorite places to enjoy the beauty here, as well as tips and advice for preparing a nature trip for your Orange Beach Alabama family vacation.

Gulf State Park

Gulf State Park is a must-visit for any traveler looking for an outdoor adventure in Orange Beach. Spanning 6,500 acres along the coast, Gulf State Park boasts 2.5 miles of beaches, three freshwater lakes, and a 27-mile paved trail system. You’ll also find a beach pavilion, fishing pier, picnic area, and a nature center here. At Gulf State Park you can go hiking, fishing, paddling, geocaching, biking, and more. 

Lake Shelby is the perfect calm spot for paddleboarding and kayaking, and it also features five fishing piers. Anglers will love the chance to experience freshwater fishing at Lake Shelby where you can catch bass, bream, speckled trout, and more. 

Alabama Gulf State Park is home to a large network of paved trails that span more than 15 miles and go through six distinct ecosystems. Made up of seven trails, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail will take you through Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, and it's easily accessible for all ages. This trail system is ideal for biking and offers an opportunity to see a variety of flora and fauna, including alligators, deer, or even a bobcat. 

Alabama Coast Beaches

Gulf State Park has a popular beach in the area, and there are several others that you can visit while you’re here as well. Gulf Shores Public Beach and the Cotton Bayou Public Beach are two nearby spots where you can enjoy the shoreline. Beaches here offer typically calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, wide stretches of sand so you can have your own space and opportunities for recreation. You’ll love our beaches for swimming, boarding, walking, and more. 

Bring along some beach blankets, sunscreen, snacks, and plenty of water, and remember to double check that you've brought all your belongings and trash out with you when you leave.

What do the flags mean at the beach? 

Anytime you visit the public beaches you’ll notice there are flags posted based on the conditions, and the conditions may change throughout the day. These flags serve as a warning system for surf conditions to ensure the safety of locals and visitors. Here are the meanings of each flag:

  • Double Red: water closed to the public (note that the beaches remain open)
  • Red: high hazard (high surf and/or strong currents)
  • Yellow: medium hazard (moderate surf and/or currents)
  • Green: low hazard (calm conditions, exercise caution)
  • Purple: dangerous marine life

For more information, visit the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism website

Wildlife in Orange Beach

There is a diverse range of wildlife that you can view while in Orange Beach and throughout the entire Alabama Gulf Coast. Whether you want to get out on the water for a dolphin cruise or take to the trails to go birdwatching, there are plenty of opportunities to see animals native to this area. 

The Alabama Gulf Coast is known for its birding since it has a high population of local birds and migratory birds. Some of the most popular spots for birdwatching in the area include Boggy Point, Gulf State Park, Perdido Pass, Little Lagoon Pass, Wade Ward Nature Park, and Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails. Spring and fall are ideal for catching a glimpse of migratory birds making their way through the area. Every October the Annual Alabama Coastal BirdFest is a popular event to view migratory birds. 

You can also see nesting sea turtles along the coast of Alabama, including Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Fort Morgan. Sea turtles use the beaches along the Alabama Gulf Coast from late spring to fall each year to nest and lay their eggs. Loggerhead, Kemps Ridley, and the Green Sea Turtle are the most commonly found species here. Sea Turtles are protected and there are several things to keep in mind if you see any. 

  • Be sure not to use a flashlight on the beach at night and keep any other lights off near the water. 
  • Never disturb a nest.
  • If you see sea turtle tracks, leave them undisturbed to help volunteers know where a nest is located.  

A few tips: You’ll find tour guides if you want to learn about the region, or you can explore on your own if you’d prefer. If you are trekking to view wildlife on your own, be sure to keep your distance from any wild animal for your and their safety.

Plan Your Family Vacation to Orange Beach

Browse Orange Beach condos at SeaChase Resort for your vacation to the Alabama Gulf Coast. Located right along the Gulf of Mexico with private beach access, pools for the entire family, and spacious condo units, SeaChase Resort is the perfect home base. Plan your trip using our helpful guide to getting to Orange Beach, or contact our team for assistance.