If you’ve visited the beautiful Emerald Coast and driven down scenic Highway 98 across the Destin Bridge, you’ve probably noticed the alluring sight of Destin’s most popular (and picturesque) attraction and local sandbar hang out spot: Crab Island, and then immediately wondered how to get to there.
How to Get to Crab Island
Watching all the people hanging out in the beautiful water, playing on their floaties and relaxing on their boats may have even tempted you to figure out how to get to Crab Island. Indeed, we get hundreds of phone calls and emails from Destin visitors who are trying to figure out how to get to Crab Island, with or without a boat. No, you cannot drive your car to Crab Island. You can’t swim or walk there, either.
The only safe way to get to Crab Island is by boat. You can either rent a boat, charter a boat, or do an excursion, like the Crab Island Shuttle Boat or Crab Island Adventure Tour. Although Crab Island looks picturesque, the hidden tidal currents that rush around the popular underwater sandbar are strong and claim the lives of people who try to swim the seemingly short distance across the channel each year. It’s not worth your life.
The best ways to get to Crab Island are:
- Pontoon Boat Rental
- Crab Island Shuttle Boat
- Paddleboard/Kayak Rental
- Captained floating tiki bar
- Yacht charter
Pontoon boat rentals are the most popular (and plentiful) type of rental among Destin, Florida area visitors, due to their ease of use and plush, comfortable seating. Seriously, it’s like having your own private, floating living room, and driving one is about as easy as driving a car. They also can accommodate large groups, so if price is a concern you can split the cost among friends. For example, the cost for 12 people to rent a pontoon boat to get to Crab Island for half a day would be just over $30/person. I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty hard to find something fun that you can do for four hours for $30-especially in Destin!
Smaller groups would do better price-wise to take the shuttle boat, at only $49/person it’s cheaper than renting a boat if you have less than 8 people, and you won’t have to worry about, or be responsible for, driving a boat. (This is especially nice if you plan to enjoy a few cocktails while visiting Crab Island, as drinking and driving laws are strictly enforced on the water.)
If pontoons are not your thing, you can find any and all manner of rentals, tours, and excursions to get to Crab Island, from jet ski or double decker pontoon boat rentals to private charters on a catamaran or even a luxury yacht. You can even rent a paddleboard or kayak and paddle out to the sandbar from shore, but be prepared for a workout (and wear your life jacket)!
Most of these boat rentals and excursions depart from the Destin Harbor or nearby Okaloosa Island, both just minutes away from Crab Island! You can browse this website for everything you need to get to Crab Island.
Directions to Crab Island
Once you’ve determined how to get to Crab Island, you might be looking for directions to the sandbar. Crab Island is located just north of the Destin Bridge, inside the inlet that connects the Choctawhatchee Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. The official GPS coordinates for Crab Island are listed as N 30°23.918, W 86°31.236, although the sandbar is quite large and doesn’t consist of just one point on a map. If you’re departing from the Destin Harbor, you will head west on your boat towards the Marler Bridge (also referred to simply as the Destin Bridge). Pass underneath the Marler Bridge and Crab Island is the sandbar located just to the northwest. Coming from Fort Walton Beach/Okaloosa Island, head east/southeast along the Gulf Islands National Seashore and Crab Island will be to your left just before you reach the Marler Bridge. You can’t miss it!
Crab Island Activities
Now it’s time to focus on what there is to do once you get to Crab Island! Visiting Crab Island is a truly unique experience. It is lot of fun and has an abundance of activities, although the main point of Crab Island is just to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. You can enjoy people watching, relaxing on your floatie or your boat and soaking up the sun, paddling or snorkeling around your boat, or tossing a frisbee or football and jumping into the water to catch it.
If you’re looking for activities to keep you entertained, try the Crab Island Adventure Tour which includes a stop at Crab Island as well as other activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and an inflatable water park in the ticket price.
For more information about Crab Island, visit our Complete Visitor’s Guide to Crab Island or visit the Crab Island Information Center on the Destin Harbor.
When can you visit Crab Island? Me and some friends are coming to Destin for spring break at the beginning of April, would we be able to go then?
Hi Abby, yes, you can rent a boat to get to Crab Island year round!
We rented a house in destin,FL. What is there to do with kids aged 6-13
We made a list of our favorite things here: https://www.destinvacationboatrentals.com/blog-post/12-things-to-do-with-kids-in-destin/ Hope that helps!
Can the driver of a rented boat go to crab island and drink at all within reason? Or the driver can’t drink at all?
HI Beverly, The rules are the same as driving a car. .08 BAL is the legal limit. We do offer captains for a fee if your group would prefer not to drive the boat. Hope that helps!
What is the fee for a captain to drive a boat out?
Hi Alexis, licensed captains are $150/4 hours or $300/day. HTH!
Is there like a price to get to crab island & do the slides and other water activities
You need to check out the Crab Island Adventure Tour: https://crabislandcompany.com/adventure-tour/ Hope that helps!
I don’t no the address to crab Island
Crab Island is in the middle of the water. There is no address, as it is only accessible by boat. Hope that helps!
Is there a shuttle that can take you to the island?
There is a shuttle to Crab Island! Check here for more info: https://www.destinvacationboatrentals.com/crab-island-shuttle-boat/
Can you kayak to crab island
How to get there
Where do you go to load on the shuttle ?
Check in at the Crab Island Information Center on Highway 98 in the Destin Harbor District. Reservations are highly recommended!
How old does a child have to be on the pontoon boat with parents
There is no minimum age for children on a rental boat, as long as they’re accompanied by a legal guardian. Hope that helps!
How is the crowd the weekend after Labor Day? Do they still have the floating restaurants/stage and other activities?
Hi Beth, the crowds are much smaller after Labor Day. Many of the vendors do typically stay open through September and even October, but some do shut down after the season is over.
Hi. I would like to go the crab island in march. Would I be able to do that
Yes, you can go to Crab Island any time of year.
Is there anywhere near you can dock your own boat?
How far is it from the mainland?
It’s not far. Maybe 500 yards or so, but it is surrounded by deep channels with strong currents and boat traffic.
We are planning to visit Destin during the first week of April. Will the food vendors and floating waterpark be there yet, or is it too early?
Usually some of the food vendors and restaurants will be open in April, but the water park normally opens in May.
I have a 22 ft. cabin is the water deep enough to drive to crab island from the mainland
Yes, Crab Island is surrounded by deep channels. Hope that helps!
We will be coming to Destin in July. Just me, my husband and 12 year old son. We really dont want to rent a boat. Do you guys have some sort of shuttle that will take you to Crab Island and back??
We do have a shuttle boat: https://www.destinvacationboatrentals.com/crab-island-shuttle-boat/
[…] For more info on boat rentals: https://www.destinvacationboatrentals.com/blog-post/crab-island-boat-rentals/ […]
We are going to be coming april one weekend. My husband and I have never driven a boat. Should we have a captin drive us out how much is the cost?
Hi Ashley, you can hire a captain for any of our rentals if you like for an additional $200 per 4 hours. We do have first timers every day and pontoons are very easy to drive, so it’s not necessary to add a captain if you’d rather not. We can teach you everything you’d need to know. You can also check out the Crab Island Shuttle Boat, a captained excursion boat that takes you to Crab Island.
Hi can I go with my jet ski or I need to paid
You can go with your jet ski!
Hi I planning to go march but I want to know how to book for 3 people to get there?
To Crab Island?
Hi Marta, you can call us at the number at the top of our website or book online here: https://www.destinvacationboatrentals.com/boat-rentals/ . Hope that helps!
how deep is the crab island? I would like to paddle board but I’m afraid of deep water.
Crab Island is surrounded by deep channels and strong currents, but once you get there the water is only 2-3 ft deep in most places. Hope that helps!
Are there any rentals with a toilet on board?
Hi there are only 2 of us coming on our trip, so we were looking to take the shuttle instead of renting a boat, but is there a place for us to leave our beach bag and cooler if we do not have a boat?
Yes, the shuttle boat has storage on the boat for your personal items.
where to stay that is close to this island? and where to fly into?
Hi Sarah, The closest airport to Destin is VPS and there are lots of hotels, condos, and vacation rentals in Destin and in nearby Okaloosa Island (Fort Walton Beach). Hope that helps!
I have plan to be there with 4 adults and 1 toddler (3yrs. old).
Can i join any other group who I don’t know to share the rental fee ?
You can join an excursion boat to Crab Island. Click here for info on the Crab Island Shuttle Boat: https://www.destinvacationboatrentals.com/crab-island-shuttle-boat/
What is the crowd like in the middle of September? Will the restaurant be open?
There are several restaurants and also mobile food vendors at Crab Island. Most of them try to stay open through October, but it depends on each individual owner.
I just wanted to know if the water is blue at the moment or dark green?
Our water color varies with the tides, with the prettiest water at high tide. TODAY (Sept 20, 2021) high tide is at 10am. Tomorrow, it will be 10:55am. You can look up the tides on most weather apps, but we like to use Magic Seaweed. Hope that helps!
Is it family friendly ? And how is it during memorial day weekend
Yes, Crab Island is family friendly. Memorial Day weekend will be crowded but it is still a lot of fun! Make sure to reserve well in advance as it is one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Can you get to Crab Island via canoe or kayak?
Yes, you can get to Crab Island with a canoe or kayak.
It is safe riding a jet sky to get there
Yes, you can get to Crab Island on a jet ski.
Is there an excursion for a half of day at Crab island? If so who can I book it with?
You can book a Crab Island excursion here: https://www.destinvacationboatrentals.com/crab-island-shuttle-boat/
Where is there a public boat launch to get to crab island? We will be bringing our own pontoon boat. Thanks
Destin Marina has the closest boat ramp to Crab Island. Hope that helps!
Hi, my husband and I have no experience with driving a boat are there captains or tours to get to crab island and spend a few hours there and then take you back?
Yes! You can take a Crab Island excursion on the Crab Island Shuttle Boat: https://www.destinvacationboatrentals.com/crab-island-shuttle-boat/
We planning to visit this weekend, Is there bathrooms in the restaurants?
i live in orlando Florida , how can i go to crab island Destin ?
You would need to travel to Destin, Florida to get to Crab Island.
[…] minutes. If you have a big enough group renting a boat for the day is the best way to go. Check out Destin Vacation Boat Rentals for their boats and advice to have a great day at Crab Island. There are floating restaurants, and […]
Hello, if i was to rent a boat through you all to get to crab island will I need a truck to unload the boat or how does that work ?
All of our boats are in the water already! Hope that helps!
How is crab island after the hurricane came close to that area? Just making sure it didn’t wash away or it’s Neck deep. Thanks
Crab Island was not affected by Hurricane Michael.
Can you bring your own boat into crab island?
Yes, you can!
Do you have to have a boaters license to rent a boat ?
Only if the driver of the boat was born AFTER Jan 1, 1988. You can get a boater’s license online at boat-ed.com/floridarental .
We are going to be coming July one weekend. My husband and I have never driven a boat. Should we have a captin drive us out how much is the cost, can you please send me any information that can help me on renting a boat please
This entire website is dedicated to information that can help you with renting a boat.
We are coming next weekend with our pontoon and staying at days inn wyndham ft walton where do we launch at?
There are boat launches in Fort Walton Beach.
[…] Its location is particularly unique because it is open to the tidal inflow and outflow of the crystal clear, emerald green water from the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, yet it is protected from the surf and waves that you would typically experience along the beach. Because it is located in the middle of a body of water, Crab Island is only accessible by boat. […]
We are coming Memorial Day and bringing our Jet skis can we bring them to Crab Island
Yes, you can! Make sure to bring anchors though as there is no place to dock. Hope that helps!
If I take a shuttle boat for a day,how long can I stay in the island for the day,and is there places to soak up the day while there. Any land at all
Crab Island is a sandbar and there is no land. The shuttle does 2.5 and 3 hour excursions. They stay with you while you are on the sandbar so you can leave your belongings on the boat, etc. You can lay out on the provided floating mat or float on a raft to soak up some sun. HTH!
There are double red flags this week is this still a safe place for swimming?
The flag system is meant for our gulf-front beaches. Crab Island is located inside the Choctawhatchee Bay. The flag system does not apply to Crab Island. Hope that helps.
Some friends and I are coming to Destin in November, can we go to Crab Island then? I am not seeing any of the boats with November dates.
Is it a nice crowd in October? 18th-22nd