Crab Island in Destin, Florida: The Complete Visitor’s Guide

If you’ve visited Destin, chances are you’ve heard some mention of a place called “Crab Island”. Indeed, Crab Island is one of our area’s top attractions and has been photographed and aired on shows such as Good Morning America, published in various magazines, and featured in publications across the globe. I would venture to say that Crab Island is the main reason Boating Magazine named Destin one of the top 10 places to live and boat in the United States. Just take a look at this video:

An “Emerald Coast” kind of day! from Cory on Vimeo.

What is Crab Island?

The name Crab Island makes you assume it’s an island. Actually, at one time it WAS an island, as this picture shows:

1964crabisland
but drifting sands from the Gulf of Mexico eroded it over time and now it is an underwater sandbar and popular place to anchor your boat (rented or personal). The water is about waist deep for adults, and at high tide is crystal clear. On an average day in the summer, Crab Island looks like this:

Crab Island

Where is Crab Island?

Crab Island is located on the north side of the Destin Bridge at the entrance of the Choctawhatchee Bay. It is only accessible by boat (or kayak or standup paddleboard if you’re in the mood for a good workout) due to the distance from shore and the strong currents and boat traffic that surround it.

Crab Island view

What is there to do on Crab Island?

Activities at Crab Island range from snorkeling and relaxing on your boat, to eating boiled peanuts, sandwiches, or ice cream from one of the many floating food vendors, to watching your kids play on a giant inflatable slide, trampoline, or at the inflatable obstacle course known as Crab Island Waterpark, to partying with friends to local bands playing on a floating stage. Crab Island is large enough for everyone and there is always plenty to do and see!

Is Crab Island Family-Friendly?

We get this question a lot. Do a Google search for Crab Island and you’re likely to find pictures of a drunken party crowd. And parts of Crab Island are like that…sometimes. The good news is the real-life image is much different. If you’re with your family and you want to avoid the party scene, you can. Just anchor away from the party crowd (if you’re not sure where the party crowd is, just stay clear of the floating stage) and take part in more family friendly activities (like snorkeling, fishing, floating on a raft, or sliding down the aforementioned slide). My kids are 7, 9, and 12 and we have always been able to successfully visit Crab Island without them seeing anything that we wouldn’t want them to see. In fact, it’s one of our favorite family activities. If you want to be extra careful to avoid the Crab Island party scene, plan your visit on a weekday and avoid major holidays.

When is the best time to go to Crab Island?

The best time to go to Crab Island depends on what you want to do when you get there. If you want to party, drop anchor on a weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day in the summer. If you want a relaxing getaway, plan to go on a weekday during the summer or any time during the rest of the year, with the most relaxed and quiet day being Friday. As far as time of day, what I CAN tell you, is that my absolute favorite time of day to go is during high tide. The water at high tide is unbelievably clear and aqua green. I’ve lived here my entire life and even I can’t believe how beautiful it is sometimes. So, find a tide chart, or ask your boat rental company/guide/etc and plan to be there at high tide!

If you’d like to spend a day on the water at Crab Island, contact us to reserve your boat for the day. We offer a full selection of fishing, pontoon, and power boat rentals to get you out to Destin’s most popular hangout for some fun in the sun!

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the post! My family and I are planning a trip to Florida in a couple of weeks and I think we are going to try to spend a day at Crab island!

  2. amber haney says:

    I Have a question for those of you that have been to Crab Island in Destin Florida? Do you have to get on a boat to get there to the Crab Island? please let me know asap because im going this month. THANKS 🙂

    • Heather says:

      Hi Amber! Yes, Crab Island is an underwater sandbar surrounded by deep channels, so it is only accessible by boat, kayak, or paddleboard. Hope that helps!

  3. I plan on visiting destin Florida the 2nd or third week in july and I would love to visit Crab Island…but if i dont live there and dont have a boat how can I get out there ? can i rent a boat and have someone take me out there or something?

  4. Where do you launch your boat for Crab Island if you bring your own? Susan

    • Heather says:

      Hi Susan, There is a public boat launch just across from Crab Island on Calhoun Drive at Destin Marina. There is a $10 launch fee. Hope that helps! -Heather

  5. Hello! My ten year old went on vacation with some friends of ours this summer.They went several times to Crab Island he LOVED it!!!
    but what he liked the most was the famous virgin pina colodas. He dranked so many that the crew named him Pina Colada boy. Lol
    I would like to see if someone can email me the reciepe so I can make him some for his biryhday. He also tried some with strawberries.

  6. Is this a place to go to in March?

    • Absolutely! Crab Island is beautiful year round. Do keep in mind that many of the vendors at Crab Island only set up between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so Crab Island won’t be at its peak of the season, but many people go in March and it is still a beautiful place to hang out and relax on the water. Thanks for the question!

  7. Layne Johnson says:

    is there restroom facilities there v

    • There are not currently any restroom facilities ON Crab Island. There are several nearby marinas and restaurants where you can dock and use their facilities if needed. Hope that helps!

  8. Is it pet friendly ?

    • Some people do bring their pets on their boats. Keep in mind that Crab Island is an underwater sandbar, so there is no land for your pet to run around on. He/she will have to swim or stay on the boat. You can purchase a life jacket for your pet at PetSmart in Destin, should you need one. Hope that helps!

  9. Edward Mei says:

    Thanks for the post! i am planning a trip in Florida in a couple of days and i’ll try to spend a day at Crab island!

  10. Hi! We are planning a trip to Destin in July 2016,I know its quite a bit of time away, but we are curious about a few things. We know we want to visit crab island, by boat rental. do you actually find things during snorkeling on your own, or would it be better to do a 3 hours snorkeling session and are you able to keep what you find (as long as it is not alive?)
    Which time of day is better for snorkeling?

    Thanks so much 🙂

    • Hi Kim! Thanks for stopping by. You can snorkel at Crab Island but the plain sandy bottom and other boats anchored nearby might make it hard to find marine life. The National Seashore is close to Crab Island and you can find more in that area in the grass beds, etc. My kids love to find hermit crabs and shells, as well as the occasional seahorse. You can keep the shells you find! The best time of day to snorkel is at high tide. Typically in the morning in July. Hope that helps!

  11. Hello, we are vacationing in Destin towards the end of May and had thought about renting a boat. Would Crab Island be a good place for a 9,6, and two 5 year olds? Also would you suggest half a day or a whole day with this age group?

    • Hi Heather! Yes, there are plenty of things to do for kids at Crab Island. It’s really a personal preference as far as half or full day goes. You can certainly get everything done in 4 hours, but sometimes it is nice to be able to relax and enjoy a more leisurely time. My kids always napped on the boat if they got tired. There is plenty of shade on a pontoon boat. Hope that helps!

  12. Lorie Mick says:

    I am hosting a girls trip down to Destin next year. Crab Island looks like a must for this crew of girls! We are booked the first weekend in June. Can you tell me if there will be floating food vendors, etc.?

  13. What are the individual VHF channels for the various vendors please?

  14. Will vendors still be out there during October 14-16? What is crab island like during october?

    • The vendors usually stay open as long as there is a enough business for them to be able to do so. With fall break, there should still be at least a couple of vendors open, especially on weekends.

  15. shawn rhoades says:

    We are coming to destin first week in October. Can we still come to crab island? Just water park is closed? Or is all of ths island closed?

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful information regarding one of the best hot spots to visit in Florida. Even if you do not currently own a boat, renting one to visit this place is relatively easy. With everything being handled for you, from cleanup to maintenance, and even storage, a daily boat rental may be just what you and your friends and family need when visiting Crab Island.

  17. Hi! I’m looking to visit crab island the last weekend in April with a group of girls for a bachelorette party. Will there be any vendors out? Is it better to go on a Saturday versus a Friday? Will the water be warm enough for us?

    • Hi Jen! There should be a few vendors set up by then, especially on the weekends. Most of our bachelorette trips choose to go on Saturdays. We’ve had a very warm winter so far, so that should help water temps rise quickly during the spring. Hope that helps!

  18. What if no one in your group has ever driven a boat?

    • Hi Carole! We have many first timers. We will go over everything you need to know to feel comfortable driving the boat. If you would rather, we can add a captain (with advanced notice) to your rental for an additional fee. Check our policies page for more information about driving a boat, including an instructional video! https://www.destinvacationboatrentals.com/faq/ Hope that helps!

  19. IS THERE ANY REASON I WOULD GET SEA SICK ON R OF THE BOAT WHILE GOING TO CRAB ISLAND AND HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TOGET THERE ON BOAT

    • Our closest location is only 500 yards from Crab Island. The waterways are protected, so the water is usually very calm and seasickness is rarely an issue with any of our guests, unless you are extremely prone to it or highly sensitive. Hope that helps!

  20. Sherron Barnett says:

    I have a group looking to go to crab island April 29-May 5th. Will there be any bands playing at any time?

  21. Matt strickland says:

    Will the water park be set up by march 11th? Spring break starts then in Alabama and we are coming down for the week. Was going to rent a pontoon and go out there. Thanks

    • The water park is usually set up from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There will be plenty of boats out there the week of March 11-17th though-that looks like it is going to be the busiest week of Spring Break!

  22. Angie R says:

    We are planning our vacation for the week of may 22nd. We are planning on renting a boat but kids want to look for shells. Is that something you can do at crab island?

    • Heather says:

      Crab Island is a sand bar with a sandy bottom. Not many shells there. You can check out the National Seashore as you may have better luck over there!

  23. Sheramie LeBrun says:

    We are planning on going this summer and renting a pontoon to go to Crab Island. Is Sunday July 30,2017 a good day and how far is your arena from Crab Island? Thank you for your help!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Sheramie, We have several locations all within a 5 minute drive (by boat) to Crab Island. Make sure to book in advance if you are coming in July, as that is peak season for us!

  24. MARIA ESPINOZA says:

    i am planning on going 23rd of june to destin and i am certainly interested in taking my kids to crab island is it kid friendly? also do i have to rent a boat or is it am option? im sorry first time hearing about crab island…

    • Heather says:

      Hi Maria, Crab Island is definitely kid-friendly! You will need a boat to get there. Stay near the inflatable obstacle course and your kids will have a blast!

      • How high is the water? My son is 5 years and he is excited but I’m afraid the water might be too deep for him ?

        • Heather says:

          In many places the water is 2-3 feet deep. For a 5 year old, I would bring along some floaties.

  25. MARIBEL says:

    Hi!! We are going to Destin this weekend. I really want to visit crab island. As I was reading comments and questions, you need a boat/kayak to get there right? How high is the water? I also wanted to bring an inflatable tube so I can lay out and just relax… What else do you recommend we do while in Destin?? Thanks! 🙂

  26. VANESSA says:

    HOW HIGH IS THE WATER FOR A 5 YR OLD?

  27. Addie Faciane says:

    Does anyone know of a RV campground near crab island?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Addie, Destin Bayview Campground is not far from Crab Island, or you can try Destin West RV campground on Okaloosa Island. Those are the 2 closest that I know of. Hope that helps!

  28. Hi Heather,

    My family and I are coming to Destin in Mid-August and looking to rent a pontoon boat to take out to Crab Island. Do you need a FL (or any state) boating license to rent/operate the boat? I had one, but it is probably many years expired by now. Also, is fishing permitted on/near Crab island? Nothing serious, just a simple Shimano and light test to cast off the boat. Thanks for your help, see you in August!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Dory, you only need a boater’s license if you were born after Jan 1, 1988 and will be driving the boat. You can get one for free at BoatUS.org or you can take an open-book, multiple choice test on site for $5 (plan to arrive 30-45 minutes early to test). You can fish but I would recommend casting away from all the people at Crab Island…

  29. Belinda says:

    Hello, we are planning a family trip to Destin next week and want to visit Crab Island. Do you still have 1/2 day rentals available for Friday, July 7? We would need at least a 12 seater. We are also interested in doing a little fishing, if we navigate away from Crab Island to fish do we need to bring our own equipment and tackle or do you provide that as part of the rental? Thank you!

  30. Danielle says:

    We will be visiting Destin Sept 15-18 2017. What activities are available on crab island during that time? It will be 4 adults no children.

  31. Beth Simon says:

    I have a group of girls going on a trip Sept 8-10. Will the vendors still be out at this time?

  32. Is it okay to bring jet skis into crab island? Is there somewhere to beach them?

    • Heather says:

      Yes, you can bring jet skis. No, there is no land at Crab Island where you can beach them. Crab Island is an underwater sandbar. Hope that helps!

Trackbacks

  1. […] be happy to help make your dreams come true! In the meantime, read Heather’s blog post The Complete Visitor’s Guide to Crab Island (they have pretty photos and great […]

  2. […] Florida, USA  Heather Thomas gives you The Complete Visitor’s Guide to Crab Island in Destin, Florida posted at Destin Vacation Boat […]

  3. […] top attraction in Destin. Other popular activities include fishing, sailing, water sports, visiting Crab Island, Big Kahuna’s waterpark, the Track, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park (on Okaloosa Island), […]

  4. […] every meal. What to do: Take a professional sand sculpting class from the masters, and wade around Crab Island, which is a part of the beach where the water is waist deep and floating vendors (think ice cream […]

  5. […] every meal. What to do: Take a professional sand sculpting class from the masters, and wade around Crab Island, which is a part of the beach where the water is waist deep and floating vendors (think ice cream […]

  6. […] 6. Watersports-Destin is a mecca of water sports activity and was named by Boating Magazine as one of the Top 10 Places to Live & Boat in the whole world. You can rent a jet ski for a thrilling ride across the water from Fudpucker’s Watersports, or rent a pontoon boat and drop anchor at Crab Island. […]

  7. […] every meal. What to do: Take a professional sand sculpting class from the masters, and wade around Crab Island, which is a part of the beach where the water is waist deep and floating vendors (think ice cream […]

  8. […] We have multiple locations on the Destin Harbor and Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin, Florida, but the best (and most popular) place to visit is a sandbar known as Crab Island. […]

  9. […] a great spot to visit. Take a professional sand sculpting class from the masters, and wade around Crab Island, which is a part of the beach where the water is waist deep and floating vendors (think ice cream […]

  10. […] water. It’s only up to here (knees) and is crystal clear with a white sand bottom. It’s called Crab Island and is really something to […]

  11. […] getaways. The last thing to mention is really the first thing you see when driving over the bridge, Crab Island. A glorious meeting point on top of a sandbar. There are boats, floats, and kayaks everywhere. They […]

  12. […] getaways. The last thing to mention is really the first thing you see when driving over the bridge, Crab Island. A glorious meeting point on top of a sandbar. There are boats, floats, and kayaks everywhere. They […]

  13. […] Crab Island – Rent a Pontoon boat, a see-through canoe or jet ski and go hit Crab Island. A favorite party spot of locals and […]

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