With over 7,000 acres of undeveloped coastline and hundreds of species of birds, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is arguably the most scenic and relaxing spot on the entire Alabama coastline. Much of this refuge looks is completely unchanged since man first arrived on the coast, and sea turtles still lay their eggs in the sand as they have for thousands of years. Because there are limited roads in the area, one of the best ways to search for wildlife is exploring the refuge by kayak, where you silently paddle amidst the reeds and network of coastal dunes. Keep an eye out for the endangered and skittish Alabama beach mouse, which makes its home on this isolated shoreline away from the Gulf Shores development. You can also find ospreys, kingfishers, and herons that cruise down the white sand shoreline, and there’s also a network of hiking trails for exploring the refuge on foot.
The refuge is open from dawn until dusk, and the visitor center is open Monday-Friday from 9am-2pm. Summers can be hot and have lots of biting insects (so be sure to bring repellent), and there are free bird walks in fall and winter that are led by refuge staff.
Insider Tip: The refuge is broken up into five different units, and all of the established hiking trails are located inside the Perdue unit. For the best chance of spotting an alligator, head to the observation deck along the Pine Beach trail.