What You Need to Know About the Sand Island Lighthouse

Sand Island Lighthouse

One of the more iconic attractions on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, the Sand Island Lighthouse will illuminate the history of the area in a picture-worthy way you won’t forget. The historic lighthouse stands roughly three miles from the mouth of Mobile Bay and has since its first keeper in 1839. Through a series of events like erosion and war, the structure has been rebuilt a few times. The rich history the lighthouse represents tells a story you’re going to love to learn. Here’s what you should know about the Sand Island Lighthouse.

Are you looking for the most incredible experiences on Alabama’s Gulf Coast? The Sand Island Lighthouse is definitely one of them! For the rest, though, be sure to download our free Vacation Guide! Here at Sunset Properties, we’re the experts on the area. So, have an unforgettable vacation using our guide. You’re going to love it!

Sand Island Lighthouse History

If you’ve been to Ft. Morgan, then you’ve seen the Sand Island Lighthouse. It sits about three miles offshore to the west between Ft. Morgan and Dauphin Island. Currently, the lighthouse is owned and protected by the city of Dauphin Island. However, once upon a time this was a federally owned lighthouse with all of the bells and whistles. The Sand Island Lighthouse was originally commissioned in 1837 and was completed in 1839. Because of varying factors, from inadequacy to erosion to the Civil War, the lighthouse has seen a handful of manifestations over the years.

Not long after the first lighthouse was completed, the extreme erosion of Sand Island severely affected its longevity. The island lost between 50 and 100 feet of beach a year. The once-grand, two-story keeper’s quarters decreased over the years because of the extreme erosion. In addition to the island disappearing, itself, several keepers went missing in storms throughout the years. The current lighthouse was originally lit in 1873, but the final keepers went missing as they tried to head to the main land to pick up their replacement. It is believed that a storm caused their boat to capsize with no one aware of their calamity. After these keepers disappeared, the lighthouse was automated and a little over a decade later the light house was decommissioned. In 1971, the Fort Morgan Museum archived the second-order Fresnel lens as a part of the area’s history.

Modern Efforts to Maintain the Lighthouse

Recently, the City of Dauphin Island began a massive rescue operation to save the deteriorating island on which the lighthouse sits. The rip rap, a series of boulders that act as a breakwater, was moved and rearranged to make everything more stable. The Island was then wrapped with stainless steel cables to help keep things in place. Work was also done on the lighthouse, itself, replacing missing bricks and mortar. Also, 1.4 million cubic yards of sand dredge were added to the island. So, our beautiful light house is sitting on white sand again!

You can visit the lighthouse via marina cruises from the Dauphin Island Marina, on which you’ll see some of the many great things Dauphin Island has to offer, too!

So Much to See on Alabama’s Gulf Coast

You’re going to love a vacation here on Alabama’s Gulf Coast! From historic lighthouses to sugar-white sandy beaches, the whole family is going to love spending time here. So, as you plan your next trip to the Gulf, browse our beautiful vacation rentals and beach houses for the best places to stay! Here at Sunset Properties, our rentals are both idyllic and ideal for your next beach adventure! Contact us today to book your next stay. And, if you need more ideas for great things to do in the area, check out our free Vacation Guide, as well!

What You Need to Know About the Mullet Toss

Mullet Toss

Every year, all kinds of folks flock to the Alabama-Florida state line for the wacky Mullet Toss competition. It’s a day full of flying fish, fun, food, contests, and sunshine for all people, mullets, and seagulls. The fish-throwing contest takes place smack-dab on the Alabama-Florida state line. Planning to take part? Here’s what you need to know about the Mullet Toss!

Are you looking for the most fun experiences on Alabama’s Gulf Coast? Then, you’ve come to the right place! That’s because here at Sunset Properties, we’re the experts when it comes to all things Gulf Shores. Check out our free Vacation Guide and see for yourself the incredible experiences that can be yours!

Mullet Toss Need-to-Know’s

What is a mullet toss, you may ask? The ceremonious, plentiful mullet is one of the more populous fish indigenous to the Gulf Coast area. It is the only fish with a gizzard and is fabled to possess mystical powers. It is known as bait fish on the east coast, but it is also a local delicacy here. The party that is the Mullet Toss consists of contestants throwing the no-longer-living piscine projectile from a 10-foot circle in Alabama. The airborne “delicacy” then flies across the state line and into Florida. Or into the crowd depending on the fish thrower’s aim and grip on the slippery fish, of course. The fun activities, music, and food are a great way to blow off some steam and have a good laugh at the same time.

For those concerned with the livelihood of marine life, the participating mullet are no longer alive, but, according to multiple accounts, do remain very friendly! After their generous sacrifice, the fish are then donated to the local avian menu. This is absolutely one of the don’t-miss events in the area!

How Much Does it Cost?

A paltry $15 buys you the chance to launch your favorite fish and garners you a nifty souvenir t-shirt, as well! Plus, 1st Place gets a trophy, a Flora-Bama gift certificate, and, according to the event, “any other junk [they] can find laying around.” The best part? A contribution of your fish-flinging fee goes toward local youth charities! Here are a few easy rules to keep in mind while you’re there!

  • You will toss approximately one whole mullet (roughly 1 lb.) across the Florida/Alabama state line.
  • To participate, you must submit a registration form at the beach.
  • $15.00 Entry Fee. You will receive your new favorite Interstate Mullet Toss t-shirt.
  • During your toss, no gloves or sand on mullet to improve grip is allowed.
  • Mullet will be picked out of the water bucket. After you throw, retrieve your mullet and toss it back into the bucket.
  • Mullet will be thrown from a 10′ circle down a designated alley.
  • No stepping out of the circle during your throw and follow through or you will be disqualified.
  • Throwing your mullet out of bounds will result in an automatic disqualification.
  • DON’T MISS! One chance only to qualify for finals.
  • There are six finalists in both the men’s and women’s divisions each day.

Toss Your Mullet Into the Sunset

Aim for the best place to stay on Alabama’s Gulf Coast when you’re tossing your mullet! Here at Sunset Properties, our condos and beach houses are the perfect fit for whatever reason you’re here. You’ll love their proximity to the beach, quality, and comfort. So, check out our available rentals! Then, when you’re ready to book, contact us! We are eager to accommodate you, and cheer you on, during your Mullet Toss adventure. For the best experiences in the area, Mullet Toss and otherwise, download our free Vacation Guide today!

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and How to See it

When you’re looking for ways to take in the beauty of Alabama’s Gulf Coast, there are a few ways to get the most out of your effort. One of the most interesting places in the entire area is the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. The appropriately named refuge, French for “safe harbor,” is home to a plethora of native species, including endangered ones. There are over 7,000 acres of habitat for these species, and an array of family-friendly activities perfect for your next vacation to the area.

Are you looking for the most incredible experiences on Alabama’s Gulf Coast? Then, you’ve come to the right place! Here at Sunset Properties, we consider ourselves experts on the area.

What You’ll Find at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge features wetlands, beach dunes, and pine-oak maritime forests. And, it is one of the few remaining coastal ecosystems left in Alabama. As a result, the scenic beauty of the refuge is surely one to behold, making the perfect opportunity for outdoor adventure! Here are a few different ways to experience the refuge for yourself!

  • Explore the refuge from the water! This is a great way to see the refuge in ways you wouldn’t otherwise. The waterways are passable by canoe or kayak with a launch site on Gator Lake or from the Jeff Friend Trail at Little Lagoon. You can also take your electric trolling motorboat on Gator Lake.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife! More than 350 species of bird call the refuge home, and it is part of the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. You can also find several animal species, some endangered, like the Loggerhead Sea Turtle and others.
  • Bring your fishing rod with you! With your valid Alabama Saltwater Fishing License in hand, kids and adults alike can try to reel in a fresh catch on Gator Lake, Little Lagoon, or on the beach!
  • Put your hiking boots on and explore! There are four hiking trails covering every habitat within the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. Be sure to stop at the Welcome Office before hitting the trails. There, you can pick up your Discovery Pack, a totally free kit that provides hikers and visitors with a map of the refuge along with other important information regarding the habitat.

A Great Day Trip When You Stay in Our Beach Properties

Whether you’re looking for a way to explore the area or just to get off the beach for a day, then the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is for you! And, for all those other days when you just want to lay out on the sand, our condos and beach houses are the perfect solutions. Here at Sunset Properties, our properties are all ideally situated in respect to the beach. That means, that you’ll be just minutes away from the beach! For the best beach experience, though, you’ll want to hurry up and claim your booking! So, browse our available condos and beach houses! Then, contact us today to book your stay!

Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Other Fun Things to Do on Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Take the 40-minute ferry ride from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island and discover a whole new world full of incredible experiences for the whole family. On Dauphin Island, you’ll find the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Fort Gaines, Shell Mound Park, and more! Explore the subtropical oasis that is Dauphin Island and see for yourself the adventure day that will be one of the highlights of your trip to Alabama’s Gulf Coast!

Are you looking for the most incredible experiences on Alabama’s Gulf Coast? Then, you’ve come to the right place! Here at Sunset Properties, we consider ourselves experts when it comes to all things Gulf coast. So, check out our recommended activities and get the ball rolling on your next adventure!

You’ll Love These Great Things to Do on Dauphin Island

Audubon Bird Sanctuary
Cost: Free!
Hours: Open daily from dawn until dusk.
The Audubon Bird Sanctuary features 137 acres of maritime forests, including marshes, dunes, lakes, swamps, and beaches. As a result, the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island is home to 420 of the 445 officially documented bird species in Alabama, or 95% of documented bird species. Its three-mile-long trail system is recognized as a National Recreational Trail, and it’s an exciting way to discover the island. Come, explore with the whole family!

Fort Gaines
Cost: Adults $6 (ages 13+) | Children $4 (ages 5-12)
Hours: Open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from June – August; Group tours by appointment only.
The Fort is famous for Admiral Farragut’s infamous line, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” at the Battle of Mobile Bay at Fort Gaines. This pre-Civil War brick fortification is home to original cannons, kitchens, a blacksmith shop, and tunnels. The kids are sure to love the guided tours. Plus, living history performers in period-correct replica uniforms interact with the Fort’s guests! Come while you can because, due to shoreline erosion, Fort Gaines is considered one of the Eleven Most Endangered Historic Sites in America.

Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Cost: Adults $11 | Children (ages 5-18) or students with ID $6 | Seniors $9 | Group rates available
Hours of Operation
Both adults and children will enjoy the interactive exhibits and visual displays at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab! You’ll definitely want to check out the Living Marsh Boardwalk, the Mobile Bay Gallery, Barrier Island, Billy Goat Hole Gallery, the Touch Tanks, and the Weather Station. Be sure to grab a souvenir from the gift shop before you go!

Shell Mound Park
Come, explore the fascinating shell mounds! What are shell mounds? Scientists believe these shell mound are possibly the remains of Native American oyster roasts from A.D. 1100-1500. These incredible relics to Native American life in the area are a great reason to visit Dauphin Island! Plus, explore 11 acres of plant species on this “subtropical natural wonder.” It’s maintained by the Alabama Marine Resources Division.

Ferry Schedule
Single ferry, departing Dauphin Island
8:00 a.m. | 9:30 a.m. | 11:00 a.m. | 12:30 p.m. | 2:00 p.m. |3:30 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. | 6:30 p.m.*
Single ferry, departing Fort Morgan
8:45 a.m. | 10:15 a.m. | 11:45 a.m. | 1:15 p.m. | 2:45 p.m. |4:15 p.m. | 5:45 p.m. |7:15 p.m.*

Second ferry, departing Dauphin Island
8:45 a.m. | 10:15 p.m. | 11:45 a.m. | 1:15 p.m. | 2:45 p.m. | 4:15 p.m. | 5:45 p.m.
Second ferry, departing Fort Morgan
9:30 a.m. | 11:00 a.m. | 12:30 p.m. | 3:00 p.m. | 3:30 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. | 6:30 p.m.

*These hours only run during daylight savings time.

Take an Adventure Day from the Best Place to Stay on Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Dauphin Island is the perfect place to take a family adventure during your beach vacation! When you’re planning your vacation to Alabama’s Gulf Coast, check out the available condos and beach houses from Sunset Properties. You’ll love the comfort and proximity to the beach each of our properties affords. So, contact us today to book your beach getaway!

Vacation Rental Company Vs. Rental By Owner

We often get questions about the advantages of renting from a rental company verses from an owner directly.  Well, both have their advantages. The information in this blog comes from a previous post on our blog about who to vacation with and a new blog written by Tricia Howarth for the Vacation Rental Managers Association about how to rent your property. Speaking from the rental company side the advantages we see come from the problems people who rent from owner mention to us as they come through.  As a rental company we are here on site if there is a problem big or small we are here to help!  If you have to change rooms for some reason, say a leak, we have a large selection of properties to offer you in place of the problem room.  A rental company is just a phone call or a few steps away, where as most rental by owners are a phone call away but often in another state with just a cleaner to help you with problems.  Having a rental company  is handy for information, or if you happen to lock yourself out, or just the strange emergencies that come up.  We have people stop for everything from restaurant suggestions and clogged disposals  to Jellyfish stings, and missing bottle openers.  The nice part about a rental company is they have a staff of people close by to help with any and all problems.  Because of the large stock of condos we can often match or beat the pricing of a Rental by owner and provide additional service that guests want and need to make their stay worry free!

As Ms. Howarth mentioned on the other side of things if you are renting your property to make money you should make an educated decision. Most people by a place at the beach or the mountains to enjoy! They don’t usually want to spend lots of time and effort making reservations dealing with tax issues, marketing your property and maintenance calls, not to mention regular information calls about the area surrounding your property. She gave a great question to consider, “How does the return on the time it takes to do all these items compare with your regular earning potential during these hours or the value of time spent doing things you love?”

Property managers have contingency plans in place for emergencies and security for your property and for vacationers personal and financial information. These plans include onsite personnel, specialty locks and codes and. Are you prepared for computer hacks, or accidents on your property? DO you carry insurance that will cover if something does happen? How do you know your property is secure if you don’t hire someone to check on it? Property managers have the insurance, plans for accidents, and personnel in place to keep your property and your guests and their information secure. Keep in mind implementing any of these on your own is an added expense to your bottom line. Or it will be included in what you will pay in management fees each month.

Think about when you are on vacation. It is nice to have all the perks, the special attention of a staff to answer your questions. After all without happy guests you are not making money. Management companies hire specialists in guest services who are personable and happy to help twenty four hours a day, seven days a week even on holidays. Are you friendly at 4 AM when you get a call about being locked out or someone not having the Wi-Fi code? The satisfaction of your guests is what brings in future rentals. One bad review because your home wasn’t clean or the AC didn’t work when your guest arrived can ruin your future rental potential for an unexpected amount of time until you can get some positive reviews to counter act the negative information. Haven’t you heard good news travels quick bad news travels even quicker.

Exposure is not in the form of a beautiful printed pamphlet any more. You need a website to advertise on, and other options to advertise your property through multiple venues to allow the most exposure. These are fees that are also included when going with a management company.

IF you have the time, patience and money to Rent by Owner it is certainly a rewarding way to earn an income. The professionals in this field are excited and happy to help when you are ready to put your property in their hands.

Tripping.com’s Best Beaches in Alabama

According to their website; Tripping is the world’s largest search engine for vacation rentals. They also have a wonderful blog and from their research Fort Morgan is the number 2 beach in Alabama. Fort Morgan has historical draw and quiet beautiful beaches. No wonder it ranked number 2 in their research. We have a few more reasons that Fort Morgan is one of the best choices for a beach trip in Alabama.

Of course Tripping.com is correct. The Civil War era Fort Morgan is a wonderful place to visit and has huge historical significance. The battle of Mobile Bay was a big turning point in the war and was recently reenacted at the One hundred and fiftieth anniversary. This was almost entirely a sea battle and took place just off of the coast. The battle pitted two generals against one another whose backgrounds were so similar one would think the details of their lives were made up. This battle is certainly worth the research for anyone who is interested in our country’s history. The battles details range from captivating to humorous and even some of the gore that comes with war. Absolutely worth the time and the trip to the end of the island to visit Fort Morgan.

This article was about the beach! So let me tell you a little about why Fort Morgan has the best beaches. Fort Morgan had miles of federally protected beach which means it is untouched by development. In most places the island / peninsula is only half a mile across. So this means you have easy bay access to fish, kayak, boat, or participate in any number of water activities that are not easily enjoyed in the sometime rough gulf waters.

Then you also have the gulf beaches that are sugar white and as I mentioned basically untouched by development. You can explore eighteen miles of beach all the way to Fort Morgan on foot in the water or even take a bike trip down Fort Morgan road. This beach is home to shore birds, dolphin, fish, sea turtles, skates, sting ray, manta ray, tons of shells, crabs, snails, sea stars, and even the rare horseshoe crab. The school children in the area are involved a program that breeds and hatches out horseshoe crabs to repopulate the area waters with this ancient species.

Many of the Fort Morgan beaches are dog friendly as well. So if your furry friend travels with you they are welcome in the Fort Morgan area. The only place dogs cannot go are the refuge areas. Those are located in different areas all down the Fort Morgan peninsula. These refuges are set up to protect local wildlife and habitat. Some of these areas have hiking trails that include the pine Beach Trail, the Jeff Friend Trail and the Gator Lake Trail. These are fun and informative trails for any interested in nature. Late summer and Fall is a great time to visit the area to witness the cool weather and the sea turtle hatching season, bird banding, and the numerous festivals.

In our opinion Fort Morgan is the top beach to visit in Alabama. Fort Morgan has a little bit of everything for any traveler. Water sports, Nature, history, BEAUTIFUL scenery, great restaurants and quiet beaches. You should check it out for yourself! See you soon.

Alex Goes To College!!!

Earlier this year we had an opportunity to apply for a scholarship to send a staff member to Southeastern Tourism Society Marketing College. This scholarship gave our Alex the opportunity to meet and learn from marketing professionals that specialize in tourism. Alex is our newest full time staff member she has been with us almost three years. Alex came to us with fantastic knowledge of social media and wonderful customer service skills. With these skills we immediately put her covering our marketing. Over the years she has learned and grown so much knowledge. She brightens each and every day and puts her heart and soul into her job. We believed nominating her for this scholarship was a must. Alex naturally was doing great with our marketing so with some professional advancement training we knew she would grow in her job by leaps and bounds.

In her classes Alex learned the difference between marketing and advertising, secrets of Travel packaging, how to brand our area as a destination, marketing in the digital world, top trends and economic impact of tourism, how to market with festivals and events and creating brochures. Already Alex has put her knowledge to work and is improving and making changes in our marketing strategies.

Alex joined other marketing specialists from all over the southeast in this week long intensive study to market tourism industry businesses and tourist destinations. She made some great friends and contacts in this field and is looking forward to next year and the knowledge will be added to the foundation she received in this first round of classes.

Beach Vacation From the Rental Company’s Point of View

For the longest time no one I knew friends, family, strangers believed that my job was an actual real job as an assistant manager for a property management company at the beach. Everyone thought I just checked a few people in each day then had the rest of the time to go and play in the sugar white sand and emerald green water. There are so many more things involved. Some are fun, some very time consuming, some frustrate you to no end and others give you a laugh every time you think of them. More often than not we are playing a counselor in some form or fashion listening to people who really need a getaway from their everyday life.

My first funny experience was a couple of guys who just walked in off of the street. They were already feeling really good and continued to drink once they checked in. They went up to their room and came right back down because they did not remember what their room number was and their keys were coded. I told them their room number and even wrote it down for them. I ran into them again at the elevator later and once again they unsure which room to go to. I had them wait right there while I grabbed a sharpie and wrote their room number on their hands. They were sure not to get lost now.

The very time consuming situations come into play when people simply refuse to read the information that we send them. This leads to very long phone conversations about what to bring and what there is to do in the area. Not to mention we have to deal with the angry calls from people who did not know what they rented or where they are going, or where to get the keys for their rental. Take ten minutes and read or watch the videos they will save much confusion.

The most frustrating thing that I have had to deal with is the guest that calls with lots of complaints but does not allow us to attempt to fix them. We try very hard to send you into a property where everything works and it is clean and beautiful for your stay. However if we miss something please give us a chance to make it right. It typically only takes a moment and we can make your stay that much more enjoyable.

One of those situations that will make you laugh every time you think of it is different for each of us. For me it is some of the funny things kids say when they are so excited at check in. Or the dogs enjoying their first trip to the beach and playing in the water. For my bosses it is the people who called and being very serious asked them to turn the waves down that they were too loud and they could not sleep. Sometimes the requests we get are over the top and there is absolutely nothing we can do. Sometimes we are so frustrated we want to run screaming out the door but most of the time we love our job just like you. Helping people have a wonderful vacation well its one of the best, most challenging jobs I have ever had.

Red, White and Blues Air Show 2015!

Saturday July 11th is the date for the Red, White and Blues Air Show over Pensacola Beach. Just before the air show some antique planes will fly WWII Veterans in honor of their service. There are about 11 planes taking WWII Veterans. These special planes will be a show all to themselves. The main event will start at 2 p.m. be sure to travel and get your spot on the beach early.

Some tips for being prepared for the Air Show. Be patient! There will be lots of traffic and it will be hot so be over courteous and kind to your neighbors. The worst thing that could happen on such a fun day is if tempers rise and fights occur. Remember this is a family event. There will be impressionable little ears and eyes everywhere. Be sure to wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day. Bring food and lots to drink! Have FUN!!!

The 2015 air show line-up includes the RV-8 speed demons; fat albert, a C-130 Hercules that flies support for the Blue Angels; an MX2, an unlimited aerobatic aircraft that spins and rotates at high speeds; and a one of a kind Extra 300SHP; plus a biplane that roars and races.

I remember going to these shows every year as a child and have wonderful memories. Load up your family and make the trip to Pensacola Beach you will not regret it. After the Air show the Blue Wahoos will be playing the Montgomery Biscuits and after the ball game there will be a fireworks show over Pensacola Bay.

July 4th Fireworks Shows in Gulf Shores for 2015

July 4, 2015 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular
Annual Community Events
The Wharf in Orange Beach
4830 Main Street

Orange Beach, AL 36561
July 4th featuring: Fireworks Spectacular at 8:45pm SPECTRA: at 8:30 pm; 9pm; 9:30 and10pm, Face painter, bouncy houses

9:00 PM
Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration at Gulf Shores Public Beach

Dates & Times
July 4, 2015 9:00 PM

Gulf Shores Public Beach
City of Gulf Shores, 101 East Beach Blvd. Gulf Shores, AL, 36547
Free to public.
Event Info
The City of Gulf Shores will celebrate the Fourth of July with a stunning fireworks display, beginning at 9 p.m. on
Saturday, July 4.

“We are excited about continuing our rich Fourth of July tradition and invite all locals and visitors to celebrate with us at the Gulf Shores Public Beach,” said Programs and Events Manager, Brigette Reynolds.

According to organizers, the fireworks will be shot from a barge stationed due south of the West 2nd Street beach access point.
“All public beach areas will provide spectators with an incredible, front row seat,” said Reynolds. “We can’t thank Cassity Brothers Construction enough for their help in securing the barge for us to put on this wonderful show.”
In addition to the fireworks, Sunny 105.7 FM will be broadcasting a patriotic musical element that will coincide with the show.

For more information about the City of Gulf Shores’ Fourth of July fireworks, contact the Special Events Division at 251-968-1174.
Contact Us
PHONE: 251-968-1174
WEBSITE: https://www.gulfshoresal.gov