Crab Island is the perfect place to catch some of that famous Florida sunshine and fun!
What to do on Crab Island in Destin Florida
Crab Island is an underwater sandbar near Destin, Florida, near the Marler Bridge, at the entrance of Choctawhatchee Bay.
Crab Island is a popular place for both tourists and locals enjoying the sun.
Is Crab Island busy?
Originally a quiet escape used to anchor boats, Crab Island has become more and more popular with each year. Today, Crab Island is usually full of people catching rays, wading through the clear water, and enjoying the social scene.
At its busiest, you can see hundreds or even thousands of boats on Crab Island on a warm summer day.
When is Crab Island open, and when should I visit?
Because Florida’s Crab Island isn’t an official state park, it doesn’t have posted opening and closing hours. That said, most people visit during the day to enjoy a day in the sun.
Most of the floating restaurants and vendors are only open from March or April to October.
The water at high tide is exceptionally clear and enjoyable, though you can visit at low tide as well.
How do I get to Crab Island?
Crab Island is just two minutes from the harbor at Destin, Florida.
There’s no land access to Crab Island, so you’ll have to get there over water.
Important! Because the currents can be strong, and there’s a lot of boat traffic, please don’t attempt to swim to Crab Island for safety reasons.
The best way to get to Crab Island is probably by pontoon boat or jet ski rental.
Most visitors rent a boat, or take their own. If you’re an inexperienced boater, it’s best to anchor on the outside of the sandbar, as currents and wind can make you bump into other boats if you’re too close.
Pontoon (party boats) are a great choice if you’re a large group, or if you’d like to stay for the day. In fact, pontoon boats are hugely popular here, earning Destin the nickname of “Pontoon Capital of the World”.
It’s easiest to rent a boat or other watercraft either out of Destin Harbor, or Calhoun Avenue.
You can even hire a boat with a boat captain to take you out to the island.
You can also take a shuttle boat out to Crab Island from Destin Harbor. It’s a 32′ glass bottom boat that stays on the island for 2.5 or 3 hours. Adult tickets start at $40, and all trips are round trip.
As of 2020, taxi boats were no longer allowed to take people to Crab Island and drop them off.
Crab Island is also accessible by jet ski, kayak or paddle board.
Where did Crab Island get its name?
Today, Crab Island is an elongated sandbar. It wasn’t always that shape.
The island was created in the 1960s by the Army Corps of Engineers by dredging the Destin Pass. The extra material was dumped where Crab Island stands today.
Over the years drifting sands and hurricanes buried most of the island in sea water, covering up the original shape of the land: which was shaped like a crab.
Today, the island may no longer be shaped like a crab, but it definitely has thousands of the tiny little sea creatures on the sandbar floor.
What should I take to Crab Island?
You’ll be spending most of your time on Crab Island outdoors, so it’s a great idea to bring outdoor gear.
Sunscreen is a must, and definitely bring a swimsuit and towel if you plan to get into that crystal clear water.
There are plenty of food options, but if you don’t want to eat out, bring a cooler filled with drinks and something to eat.
How deep is the water at Crab Island?
Crab Island is actually an underwater sandbar. The water depth ranges from two to ten feet deep. In most parts it’s one to four feet deep.
Are there restaurants on Crab Island?
Because Crab Island is underwater, there aren’t fixed restaurants. Instead, you’ll find food vendors lined up on the island.
Vendors offer typical American casual food, with burgers, fries, ice cream, hot boiled peanuts, soft drinks, and sandwiches being hugely popular.
If you’re looking for snacks or supplies, there are mini stores that sell beach equipment like towels and sunscreen, as well as chips and pop.
You can’t buy alcohol at Crab Island, but you can bring your own.
Some vendors accept credit cards, but many are cash only, so be sure to bring some cash!
Activities on Crab Island
Because Crab Island is water based, most activities are built around fun and sun.
You can rent large water trampolines or even an inflatable slide if you’re there with a group.
Because large inflatables are becoming more and more restricted on Crab Island as of 2020, you may see fewer (or none) of them available for rent.
Kayaks and paddleboards are available for rent as well, and are a fantastic way to enjoy the clear water of the sandbar.
If you’re feeling a bit more like a motorized thrill, you can even rent a jet ski.
Snorkeling is also popular on the island. You can bring your own snorkel, rent a snorkel kit at the Destin harbor, or rent a snorkel, fins and mask from one of the rental places on the sandbar. You’ll need to be aware of boats if you’re snorkeling here, as the island can be crowded on summer weekends.
You’ll see a lot of parasailers out on Crab Island. Most rides don’t take more than half an hour, and it’s a unique way to get a different perspective on the local scene.
Sports on Crab Island, Florida
Water volleyball nets are set up all over Crab Island. It’s easy to paddle up and ask to join in a game, or you can even rent your own water volleyball net yourself.
If volleyball isn’t your thing, there’s also water basketball and smash ball.
Dolphin watching is a lot of fun in these waters. Dolphins and other marine life are commonly seen at Crab Island, though you may have better luck on a day when the island isn’t overly busy.