Alabama News Water

Are Alabama beaches public?

Public Access to Alabama’s Sandy Shores: A Closer Look

Alabama’s coastline, though modest in comparison to some of its Gulf neighbors, boasts a wealth of sandy beaches that are a magnet for tourists and locals alike. A question that often arises is whether these sun-kissed shores are open to the public or shrouded in private ownership.

Understanding Beach Ownership in Alabama

In Alabama, the majority of beaches are indeed public, with the state upholding the time-honored doctrine of public trust. This principle mandates that certain natural resources, like the air, sea, and in this case, the shore, are preserved for public use. However, the delineation between public and private property can be nuanced, with private beachfront properties typically extending to the mean high-water line.

Navigating the Sand and Surf

The state ensures that public access points are available, providing entry to these beaches. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are among the most popular, with numerous public beaches that are well-maintained and equipped with amenities. These areas are overseen by city or state authorities, ensuring they remain accessible and clean for all visitors.


Q: Can I walk along the beach in front of private properties?
A: Yes, as long as you stay below the mean high-water line, you are within the public domain.

Q: Are there any completely private beaches in Alabama?
A: While some waterfront properties may have exclusive access, the actual beach up to the high-water line remains public.


Public Trust Doctrine: A legal principle that asserts the government’s duty to maintain certain natural resources for public use.

Mean High-Water Line: The average line on the shore established by the fluctuations of the tide. This line often marks the boundary between public and private beach property.