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Candy facet of Alabama: Quiet bays, kayaking on ‘America’s Amazon’ and seductive music – the US state’s Gulf coast supplies a spectacular various to Florida

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‘The place the skies are so blue,’ the late Ronnie Van Zant sang within the nation music traditional Candy Residence Alabama, in a southern drawl stuffed with conviction. Looking from my seafront balcony, he definitely appears to have gotten that proper.

Because the beaming solar settles excessive within the sky above sugar-white sands and crystalline waters, it rapidly turns into clear that the catchy tune is spot on about this much-maligned state – so typically talked down due to its rural backwaters populated by powerful, poor and typically rough-around-the-edges communities. Google ‘Alabama’ and ‘redneck’ and also you’ll get quite a lot of hits.

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However regardless of Zant bringing the sunny skies of Alabama to the world’s consideration 50 years in the past, most first-time guests to this nook of the States, often known as Gulf Shores and Orange Seashore, are prone to come away pleasantly stunned.

I, for one, didn’t even know that the twenty second state had a shoreline.

And it’s a beautiful one. As I arrive, Alabama’s pristine shores are glowing, pelicans glide overhead in neat V formations and the empty golden seashores stretch into the gap. It feels distant and tranquil – but to the east lie Florida’s crowded sands, whereas 600 miles south throughout the Gulf of Mexico, Cancun throbs with all-night events.

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Serene: During his tour of Alabama's coast, James March explores the beaches of the resort city Orange Beach

Serene: Throughout his tour of Alabama’s coast, James March explores the seashores of the resort metropolis Orange Seashore 

James says that most first-time visitors to Alabama's coastal hotspots - such as Orange Beach (above) - 'are likely to come away pleasantly surprised'

James says that the majority first-time guests to Alabama’s coastal hotspots – reminiscent of Orange Seashore (above) – ‘are prone to come away pleasantly stunned’ 

'I, for one, didn’t even know that the 22nd state had a coastline,' writes James

‘I, for one, didn’t even know that the twenty second state had a shoreline,’ writes James  

Right here, it couldn’t be extra totally different. The slender coast juts out beneath Cellular Bay, a shallow inlet from the ocean, and stretches from the Civil Conflict bulwark Fort Morgan within the west to the serene Orange Seashore within the east, with so many quiet bays you’ll typically discover you’ve gotten the seashore all to your self.

My billet is The Lodge At Gulf State Park, a Hilton lodge. Regardless of its 350 rooms, the impartial color palette, laid-back ambiance and host of wood screens and panelling make it appear extra like an opulent seashore shack.

Immediately behind lies Gulf State Park, a world of meandering trails, quiet lakes and a key a part of one of the vital biodiverse areas in america: 450 of America’s 1,000 hen species both dwell or move by Alabama.

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The narrow Alabama coast juts out beneath Mobile Bay (above), a shallow inlet from the sea, and stretches from the Civil War bulwark Fort Morgan in the west to the serene Orange Beach in the east

The slender Alabama coast juts out beneath Cellular Bay (above), a shallow inlet from the ocean, and stretches from the Civil Conflict bulwark Fort Morgan within the west to the serene Orange Seashore within the east

Going native: Kayakers in the Orange Beach area. James says Alabama's coast 'feels remote and tranquil'

Going native: Kayakers within the Orange Seashore space. James says Alabama’s coast ‘feels distant and tranquil’

This I study from my information, Kelly, throughout a morning park stroll. She excitedly factors out flame-red cardinals and high-hanging turkey vultures. The distant staccato yelps, she says, are these of a cooper’s hawk.

A small crowd gathers round us when Kelly picks up a passing ribbon snake with bulbous eyes. ‘Venomous snakes have skinny black eyes, whereas non-venomous snakes have extra rounded pupils,’ she explains. ‘So don’t fear!’

If avoiding serpents appeals then each conventional and e-bikes can be found to rent on the park, whereas the close by Waterville USA waterpark is right for households when the mid-afternoon warmth picks up.

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Again on the shore at Gulf State Park Pier, the hazy coastal views are magnificent and fishing is a fantastic strategy to move languid mornings. Rods can be found to rent for £16 for 4 hours.

My awkward makes an attempt at casting are nearly as risible because the fish’s luck in gobbling on to the shrimp on the finish of the hook. I return empty-handed.

For a extra profitable style of the deep, a few of the Gulf’s best seafood is discovered additional east, at Orange Seashore.

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At Gulf State Park Pier, the hazy coastal views are magnificent and fishing is a fantastic strategy to move languid mornings, says James 

James reveals that it's common to spot pelicans 'gliding overhead in neat V formations'

James reveals that it’s normal to identify pelicans ‘gliding overhead in neat V formations’

Above is a dish at Coastal restaurant, which James says is the place to go for seafood

Above is a dish at Coastal restaurant, which James says is the place to go for seafood

Coastal restaurant is the place to go: its dreamy patio is bathed within the milky orange glow of a Gulf sundown nearly each night and its creamy grouper fish sandwich is deliriously succulent. Don’t miss the magnificently delicate Homicide Level oysters, too.

This being America, although, I additionally spot a pattern for grilled oysters doused in melted cheese and fiery scorching sauce, one thing I really feel is akin to pouring Irn-Bru right into a glass of single malt whisky.

Prepared for a change of scene, I drive an hour north in the direction of 5 Rivers Delta for a Wild Native kayak tour. Right here, the panorama evolves into an evocative surroundings of lazy river bayous, also known as ‘America’s Amazon’.

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As I paddle slowly downstream in my kayak, I discover the useless eyes and darkish inexperienced snout of an alligator poking by the water close to some reeds. It lies there, immobile, like a scaly submerged statue.

‘There’s been just one recorded alligator assault in 48 years in Alabama,’ my chirpy information, Chris, pronounces. ‘In Florida they’ve had over 300.’

This truth retains everybody comfortable, alongside his relentless stream of chatter, wildlife details and jokes.

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James goes to Five Rivers Delta (above) for a kayak tour. 'Here, the landscape evolves into an evocative scenery of lazy river bayous, often referred to as

James goes to 5 Rivers Delta (above) for a kayak tour. ‘Right here, the panorama evolves into an evocative surroundings of lazy river bayous, also known as “America’s Amazon”,’ he says

Talking of Florida, again at Orange Seashore there’s a bar straddling the Florida/Alabama state line, imaginatively titled Flora-Bama. Heading for a drink there, I come to a ramshackle maze of wood corridors with 5 levels and dwell music each night time.

On the two-storey most important stage, the Justin Johnson Trio belts out Tom Petty covers as an enormous stars-and-stripes flag unfurls from the ceiling.

The swinging jazz rhythms of New Orleans are only a three-hour drive away and make for an alluring diversion, however I’m content material right here with empty seashores, seductive southern rock, otherworldly nature and an limitless solar.

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Alabama’s a candy residence, certainly.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Seven nights at The Lodge at Gulf State Park prices from £1,739pp, together with automotive rent and return flights (discovernorthamerica.co.uk).

British Airways fly to New Orleans from £780 return (ba.com). It additionally affords rent vehicles for the three-hour drive south to Alabama’s seashores. Rooms at The Lodge At Gulf State Park from £93 (lodgeatgulfstatepark.com). For extra info go to alabama.journey and gulfshores.com.

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