Profile: Orange Beach Marina – Quimby's Cruising Guide

Profile: Orange Beach Marina

Depending on the season, two very different experiences await boaters at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Ala. And if year-round business at this big, full-service facility in the center of the Gulf Coast is any indication, the clientele wouldn’t want it any other way.

“It’s busy during the summer, with a lot of heavy fishing going on,” explained Operations Manager Sarah Armstrong. “I’d say our customers are 90-percent large sportfishing vessels during the summer, and less transient. They may come in and stay for two weeks at a time.”

That makes sense, as the marina plays host to seven annual fishing tournaments and is located near the prolific angling grounds of the Gulf Stream, where the warm blue waters curve toward the southeast Alabama coast.

“For the tournaments, [the catch of choice] is the blue marlin,” said Armstrong. “But there’s also an abundance of yellowfin tuna, wahoo and mahi mahi. Close inshore, all the tourists want to catch the red snapper.”

Orange Beach Marina was founded in 1978 at the behest of the Mobile Big Game Fishing Club, which still has its clubhouse on the grounds, and angling is clearly a major draw. “We’re really the homeport of the sportsfishing industry in this part of the country,” said Armstrong.

But since its opening in 1978, the facility has also developed into a first-rate winter destination for “snowbirds on the water.”

Orange Beach Marina

Winter Warm-Up

“In the winter, the fishing slows down, but then the cruisers and the Loopers come through. We end up having up to a dozen or so who stay all winter,” said Armstrong. “It’s quiet, and the atmosphere is very laid back. We do our best to make everybody feel comfortable, make them feel like they’re at home.”

The marina is in a fully protected harbor and conveniently accessible from the Gulf of Mexico, Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, Intracoastal Waterway, and Mobile and Pensacola bays. There’s a full-service private airport a few minutes away, as well as larger airports in Mobile and Pensacola, which eases any necessary travel during cruising stopovers.

Another benefit: Orange Beach offers perhaps the only covered slips on the Gulf Coast — large enough to fit the outriggers and towers on most sportfishing boats. That’s a big plus for boaters planning to stay a while and live aboard.

On the marina premises is Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina, which houses two restaurants under one roof — one casual (dockside) and one more upscale (upstairs). Saunders Yachtworks handles boat repairs, and there are laundry and shower facilities, a fully stocked dock store, and covered picnic and grilling areas. The marina has large, landscaped grounds and is pet friendly.

Ride your bike from the marina to the nearby Backcountry Trail at Gulf State Park or the local Publix supermarket, or hop into one of the courtesy cars and visit any of four historic forts dating back to the civil war area. The Pensacola Naval Air Station, home of the Blue Angels precision flying team, is just a 20-minute drive away and has a museum, IMAX theater and more than 140 aircraft. Additional nearby towns offer shopping (from outlet malls to small art studios), as well as restaurants and other amenities.

But the main attraction at Orange Beach Marina remains the beautiful scenery, the water and the activities they inspire: boating, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, beachcombing, biking, golf. Whatever the time of year, you can find it here.

Orange Beach Marina

27075 Marina Road

Orange Beach, AL 36561


Hours: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. from May through October; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November through April

Fuel: Six-bay fuel dock with gas and diesel

Dockage: 180 slips, covered and uncovered; can fit vessels up to 130 feet

Amenities: 30/50 amp electric; free Wi-Fi and cable TV; 24-hour security; dock store; covered grilling and picnic areas; laundry; restrooms with showers; boat rentals; fishing charters

Getting there by boat: N 30 16.73, W 87 33.89; take entrance from the Intracoastal Waterway to Terry Cove

Getting there by car: From Alabama State Route 161, turn east onto Marina Road

Monitors channel: 16 and 69

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