9 Water Sports to Try in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach & Fort Morgan, Alabama

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When you are visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast, you will be privy to 32 miles of pristine, sugar-white beaches. When visiting this southern state in the US, you will have plenty to do on land and on the sea! There are plenty of water sports to try in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan. Being on the water is one of the main reasons for visiting this area. From deepsea fishing to boating to kayaking and paddleboarding, here’s my ultimate guide to water sports on the Alabama Gulf Shores.

Water Sports to Try in Gulf Shores Orange Beach Fort Morgan Alabama DownshiftingPRO

Boating

Boating lets you get out into the Gulf of Mexico whether you are bringing your own boat or you are looking for someone else to navigate the water. There are plenty of outfitters, marinas as well as boat parking in this boating-friendly destination.

You can also take an inshore pontoon or run-about boat and cruise the rivers, bays, small lakes and bayous. Accessing these waterways will provide eco-tours of flora and fauna and also will give you a chance to spot osprey and their nests, herons, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and maybe even an alligator or two. 

Ox Ocean Charters Gulf Shores Alabama @DownshiftingPRO 83

You can sign up for a relaxing dolphin cruise or a deep-sea fishing adventure. For those who want to be closer to the water, there are smaller jetski available for rent or with both self and guided tour. No question about it sailing beside dolphins is very cool.

I’m pleased that fellow travel blogger Nicky from Little Family Adventure was able to capture the dolphins as we cruised on the Gulf of Mexico. We were not on a dolphin cruise but were happy to have these beauties accompany us as we headed home from our deep sea fishing adventure.

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Deep Sea Fishing

Red snapper season for recreational fishing from private vessels begins May 22 and ends July 19, 2020. Deep-sea fishing is not just for the boys. We had a group of travel bloggers who took on the challenge and indulged in the fun. We started early and had a great sunny day as we cruised into deep water trying to catch some fish. You need to start early, well worth it for the sunrise pictures alone!

Ox Ocean Charter Orange Beach Alabama 2017 TBEX
Eva Faircloth @ Gulf Shore and Orange Beach Tourism

Our trip was a half-day excursion which took us far offshore to try and catch some big fish. We were told you could possibly land a blue marlin if we went further but that would mean a good 2 more hours out just to get to the great fishing spot. We were looking for a taste of the experience not a prized sailfish! Soon enough we were catching red snapper, mahi-mahi (I caught one of those) and amberjack.

Insider’s Tips: We took our catch back to shore where our tour guides gutted our fish and cut them into fillets. We set our sights on a ‘hook and cook’ restaurant which will cook your fish for you! My suggestions would be Playa, Fisher’s Dockside or one of my all-time favourites Anchor Bar and Grill.

Cat Boat

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Cat Boat 2017 scaled
Eva Faircloth @ Gulf Shore and Orange Beach Tourism

Would you like to try a hybrid of a pontoon, kayak and motor-powered paddleboat? You are basically looking at a cat boat from Orange Beach Cat Boat Tours . This two-man watercraft can coast along at speeds up to 25 miles/hour and is super fun! You’ll feel the wind in your hair and the water on your face as you tour the Cotton Bayou and Old River. This may be a unique water sports to try in Gulf Shores as I’ve never seen it offered elsewhere.

Paddleboarding

My overall impression of paddleboarding is you have to be prepared to fall off and get right back on. It takes a bit of courage and the ability to balance on a wide paddleboard. I can honestly say, I am not a big fan of paddleboarding but I have friends that just love it. When we went, I found it to be very challenging and on the coastal waterways.

You can find SUP rental shops including Paddled-By-You (family-owned, cash or cheque only) or Gulf Shores Boat and Paddleboard sports Rental (with free delivery of paddleboards and kayaks). Many companies offer lessons, guided tours, and rentals. You may be able to see birds, fish and dolphins.

Kayaking

Water Sports to try in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan Alabama DownshiftingPRO

I have come to love kayaking and much of that is due to the experiences I’ve had on the Gulf Coast and in Florida. Take a quiet paddle in the backcountry and watch for sea life and birds. Consider a group tour with a guide and have a more challenging time on the water.

There are state parks and nature reserves to explore, try a tour in the Gulf State Park (Ike’s Beach Service), Bon Secour Natural Wildlife Refuge (BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals), the Cotton Bayou (Paddle by You Kayak) or Graham Creek Natural Preserve. You will find a few kayak outfitters in these areas.

Parasailing

I am willing to try things that scare me (like ziplining & segway tours) but I am not sure I would ever try parasailing. I do know this adventurous activity is also a possibility of watersports to try in the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan. A few outfitters who rent boats, kayaks and recreational watercraft also provide parasailing and jet skis for rent.

Water Sports to try in Gulf Shores Orange Beach and Fort Morgan Alabama DownshiftingPRO 1

Snorkeling & Diving

Bucket list item or not, this is my debate with scuba diving. Snorkelling is pretty wonderful and I would certainly consider this a water sport to try in Gulf Shore. Swim around with a wide variety of marine life at the four snorkelling reefs in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. You’ll find two near Gulf State Park’s pavilion, one at Alabama Point, and one at Romar Beach. Or you might enjoy snorkelling The Alabama Point jetties in Orange Beach, the Whiskey Wreck in Gulf Shores or the Paddle Wheeler in Gulf Shores where marine life abounds.

Considering there are so many options for water sports to try in the Gulf Shore you may be tempted to dive deeper into the first deck and wheelhouse of the freighter The LuLu, sunk in 2013, or the New Venture, a 250-foot ocean surveying ship, sunk in June 2018. You might spot an octopus disappearing into its lair, a sea turtle languidly exploring the area and schools of fish flitting curiously around you.

Sailing on a Catamaran

Sailing on a Catamaran Sail Wild Hearts Gulf Shores Orange Beach Alabama scaled
Sail Wild Hearts large Catamaran has appetizers and beverages
Eva Faircloth @ Gulf Shore and Orange Beach Tourism

As you pass under the Perdido Pass you’ll love the view as the sunsets on Orange Beach. It was a highlight of our evening activity when I visited Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan. The sunset was burning red and lit up the sky with warm colours.

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You can find a variety of sunset and dinner cruises but our trip on the large catamaran was so exciting. Our two-hour Sail Wild Hearts sunset cruise included appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages. It’s ideal for families, a group of girlfriends on a getaway or a romantic evening with your partner. No question about it, of all the water sports to try in Gulf Shores this is a great way to see the sights and enjoy a sail on the Gulf of Mexico.

Water Sports to try in Gulf Shores Orange Beach and Fort Morgan Alabama DownshiftingPRO

Ultimate Guides to Food, Attractions and Accommodations in the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach & Fort Morgan @VisitALbeaches

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.