crab island 2021

Crab Island 2021: New Changes

If you’re planning on visiting Crab Island in 2021, there are a few more changes this year that you need to know about. Crab Island has undergone many new rule changes in the last several years. It can be challenging each season to know how to plan for the latest round of changes, and we try to do our best by posting a yearly update for our visitors so that you can know exactly what to expect. You can catch up on most of those changes and the history behind them in last year’s post about Crab Island in 2020.

Recap from last year

If you recall, previously there was a limitation placed on vendors that did not allow overnight anchoring, which unfortunately brought everyone’s favorite Crab Island Water Park and most of the big floating restaurants to an end. Mobile food vendors were still allowed at that point, so you could still buy ice cream, boiled peanuts, fresh coconuts and pineapples, t-shirts, etc at Crab Island. A couple of restaurants were able to scale down the size of their operations a bit to be able to remove their set-ups daily per the new requirements.

Crab Island 2021 area

Crab Island 2021 Rules

For 2021, the National Parks Service (federal government), which has officially claimed jurisdiction over Crab Island, has implemented even more rules and restrictions, most notably: whether or not to allow vendors at Crab Island. This year, starting in March 2021, it appears that is all going to change again and the National Parks Service will be putting an end to all vending at the sandbar and surrounding areas under their jurisdiction (this includes on the actual sandbar and at the Gulf Islands National Seashore, marked on the map above). You should still be able to rent or charter boats or take an excursion to the popular Crab Island sandbar to hang out and enjoy the natural beauty of the area, but you will no longer be able to purchase anything while you are there

Note that the official decision is still out on whether or not tour boats and chartered boats- boats with captains-will be allowed at Crab Island in 2021. Adding a captain to a recreational boat, according to the NPS, changes the activity from a “recreational service” to a “commercial service”, therefore they have not made a final decision on whether or not any  “commercial services” will be permitted. If these services are allowed, they will be subject to special licensing and fees from the federal government. A final decision on those is expected mid-March. The only thing the National Parks Service has confirmed for certain in 2021 at this time is that vending will no longer be allowed, but boat rentals and recreational boats will.

How to Prepare for Crab Island in 2021

Pack accordingly if you are renting a boat. You will want to bring your own beverages (alcohol is still ok) , snacks/lunches, and activities with you. Floaties, water toys, and everything else you need for the water are available at the Crab Island Information Center on the Destin Harbor. A quick stop by there on your way to your boat rental or excursion can help you get set up for your day on the water.

Designate a driver if you plan to have alcohol on the boat as you will likely be unable to add a captain to your rental, as has been an option in the past. The legal blood alcohol limit in Florida is .08, the same as driving a car. This is strictly enforced by the Okaloosa County Sherriff’s office, the US Coast Guard, and the National Parks Service.

Things to Do at Crab Island in 2021

You can still rent a boat and go to Crab Island. Nothing has changed on that end. There are even boats with water slides and some boats that come with a free kayak or paddleboard to help keep you entertained. Grab your floaties, a football or frisbee to toss around, and your favorite tunes and enjoy a beautiful day on the water away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Excursions are also gaining in popularity and we expect that trend to continue in 2021, since activities are often included during your time on the water. For example, the Crab Island Adventure Tour includes kayaking, paddleboarding, an inflatable water park, and snorkeling as part of the tour experience. If you’re wanting to be entertained rather than having to bring your own entertainment, this might be a good alternative for you.

How to stay up to date on information about Crab Island 2021

This post will be updated as new information is released by the National Parks Service. Bookmark this page to check back for Crab Island 2021 updates.