At Destin Vacation Boat Rentals, we are often asked about Shell Island, which is located in neighboring Panama City Beach. While we don’t have Shell Island here in Destin, we DO have Crab Island. What’s the difference between Shell Island vs Crab Island? We’re so glad you asked…
Crab Island is actually not an island at all. It used to be, once upon a time, but over the years the swift current of Destin’s East Pass eroded the small island and it washed away. What’s left now is an underwater sandbar and popular place to pull up by boat. Crab Island, accessible only by boat, is one of the most popular places to hang out in Destin between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You’ll find all manner of entertainment at Crab Island, from floating restaurants and food vendors to inflatable obstacle courses on which you can play to live bands and DJs playing on a floating stage. The water is waist deep and at high tide is crystal clear. A day at Crab Island is the perfect place to go to let your cares float away as you spend your day snorkeling, paddleboarding, or just relaxing on your boat. Most people take their own boats to Crab Island (rented or personal), but there are also shuttles and excursions that take you there if you prefer not to drive yourself. (See more about how to get to Crab Island here.)
Shell Island is an actual island in the St Andrews Bay off of Panama City Beach, about an hour drive from Destin. Similar to the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Destin, you can rent a boat to take to Shell Island or take a shuttle there and spend the day exploring the island for marine life, bird watching, or sightseeing for dolphins. Shell Island actually doesn’t have many shells, but it does claim to be home to one of the largest concentrations of bottlenose dolphins in the world. A day at Shell Island is a great place to go to spend a laid-back day exploring a nature preserve. You can snorkel, fish, swim along the shoreline, or just bask in the sunshine.