I spent last week with my family on Dauphin Island, just off the coast of Alabama. If you like bleach-white beaches with lots of people and tons of touristy restaurants and bars, I would recommend you not go there.
Dauphin Island is funky and quiet. The water isn't blue; it's brownish green — you know, like the ocean. The sand is a nice tan and the beaches are amazingly uncrowded. There are several nature and bird sanctuaries, a wonderful estuarium/aquarium, and a national wildlife refuge full of gators and herons and pelicans and redfish.
We got a house on the bay side, rented bikes and a kayak, and parked the car for the week. There is one grocery store and about six restaurants on the island — three of which suck mightily (Oar House, I'm looking at you). But there is a fresh seafood store, which offers just-off-the-boat shrimp, snapper, etc. and a wonderful bakery that has great bread and pastries and sandwiches. We cooked at "home" often and spent evenings on the deck watching the boats come in.
Next door to our place, there was a houseful of folks — three couples, three kids, and three dogs. Fittingly, they were only there for three days, but they made an impression.
Our decks were 40 feet apart, on the second story, since the houses were on stilts. On our first night, the neighbors were out on their deck, yakking away in dulcet Southern tones. Then I heard a dog growl and a kid cry in fear.
A female voice said: "Yew better learn to be a MAN, Lucas!" This kid is maybe 3 years old. This does not bode well. About 15 minutes later, there was another growl, snarly this time, followed by the kid's scream.
Then we heard a guy scream: "GODDAMIT, CHOCOLATE! I TODE YEW NOT TO BITE!" Followed by, and I kid you not, the dog being tossed off the deck. He hit the sand and yelped.
My wife stood up and yelled, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? THAT'S INSANE!"
The guy looks at her, obviously taken aback by this uppity woman shouting at him, and says, "There's a history here. He bit my momma last year and took off her nose flap."
By this time, the dog, which thankfully landed in soft sand and seemed fine, had climbed the stairs and was back on the deck.
The rest of our week was wonderful and I recommend Dauphin Island to you without reservation, but I'm still a little worried about Momma's noseflap.