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 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!
Map of Destin, Florida showing Crab Island
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.