Planning a visit to Destin’s most popular boating destination? There are a few things you should know before you go to Crab Island.
- Crab Island is NOT an island! Most people are surprised to learn that Crab Island is actually not an island at all, but a submerged sandbar that is completely covered by water. It was an island many years ago when it got its name, but over time it eroded both by the tidal currents and the occasional hurricane and became what is now: Destin’s most popular and picturesque gathering place. The water ranges from 1 to 4 feet deep in most areas making it an ideal place to pull up by boat and drop anchor for a day of fun in the sun.
- Crab Island is accessible only by boat! Sure, it may look close to land, but the deep channels, strong currents, and boat traffic that surround Crab Island prevent even the strongest swimmers from making the trek across. Sadly, the lives of several people are lost each year from attempting the swim from land to Crab Island. If you’re trying to figure out how to get to Crab Island, be safe and take a boat to enjoy the festivities. You can rent one or take the glass bottom Crab Island Shuttle Boat.
- The water is prettiest at high tide. Crab Island’s natural beauty is a huge attraction all by itself, but the blue green water you see in pictures happens at high tide when the Gulf of Mexico water flows into the mouth of the Choctawhatchee Bay. You can check the Destin tide charts on many weather apps to see the best time of day to go to Crab Island.
- Bring cash for the floating vendors! There are floating restaurants, mobile food boats, souvenir sales, and more at Crab Island. Some of them accept plastic, but bring cash just in case! (Please note due to regulation changes, some of the larger vendors, such as the inflatable water park, have closed permanently since the writing of this post. There is a tour that includes an inflatable water park at the Gulf Islands National Seashore, followed by a stop at Crab Island, for those looking for inflatables.) )
- Alcohol is allowed. There has been some news lately that causes people to believe that alcohol has been banned at Crab Island. What has been banned is the SALE of alcohol at Crab Island. If you want to bring alcoholic beverages with you, you can. There are no open container laws on the water in Florida. As with driving a car, just make sure you have a designated driver!
We hope you found this post helpful for planning your day on the water at Crab Island. Make sure to check out this video from our friends at To Do in Destin for more information as well! (Please note this video was filmed in 2018 and there have been some changes to Crab Island since then, specifically when it comes to laws regulating the larger floating structures and inflatables. Click here for more information on Crab Island in 2021. )