Crab Island, Destin FL: The Ultimate Guide

02/15/2024 | by BuildUp Bookings | Local Activity Guide

One of the most popular day trips in Destin, Florida, the celebrated Crab Island, is not actually an island, but you’ll still feel like you’re in paradise when you visit! Somewhat of a floating city, Crab Island features crystal clear, emerald-colored waters and a barrage of boats, floating restaurants, tiki bars, music, and more. It’s an all-around party on the water.

After you book your Coastal Vibe vacation rental, the next step is to book schedule your boat ride out to Crab Island. This is everything you need to know!

About Crab Island

Photo Credit: Rotorhead 30A Productions

Crab Island is a sandbar located in Destin, Florida. It’s situated on the East Pass waterway, just north of the Destin Bridge. It’s only a few minutes from Destin Harbor but is only accessible by boat. To get to Crab Island, you’ll need to take the water taxi or shuttle, rent a boat, or schedule a tour.

Most of these depart from the Harborwalk Marina, but always inquire with your chosen tour or rental company for exact directions and parking information.

History

Crab Island was once a very real island, but erosion from wind and hurricanes have since flattened it into the sandbar it is today. It was named Crab Island for its once crab-like shape and the crabs that inhabit the shallow seafloor.

Over time, Crab Island became a popular destination for local boaters to drop anchor, soak up some sun, and take a dip in the shallow water. As more and more boaters took part and tourists began getting in on the fun, local food vendors began cruising the waterway to serve them.

Today, Crab Island has grown into its own little “floating city,” complete with floating restaurants, Tiki bars, stores, games, and even its own transportation systems.

How to Get to Crab Island

Photo Credit: Destin Vacation Boat Rentals via Flickr CC2.0

There are multiple ways to get to Crab Island, but they all involve some form of watercraft.

One of the most important things to know when visiting Crab Island is never to attempt to swim there! While it may not look far from the land, you must cross a deep channel with strong currents to get to Crab Island.

Do not attempt to swim the channel. The safest way to get to Crab Island is by boat. Here are some of the best modes of transportation to Crab Island.

Crab Island Shuttle Boat

One of the most popular ways to get to Crab Island, the Crab Island Shuttle Boat transports passengers to and from the sandbar in increments of 2 to 3 hours. You can choose from regular roundtrip tickets or book the extended Crab Island Adventure Tour which includes several other activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and banana boat rides for the ultimate fun day on the water.

Crab Island Water Taxi

  • Website: crabislandwatertaxi.com
  • Phone: 850-317-8600
  • 2024 Rates: Standard Tickets – $79, VIP Tickets – $99, VIP Plus Tickets – $129

The Crab Island Water Taxi brings passengers to and from the sandbar in increments of 4 hours. Passengers have the choice of 3 levels of tickets — Standard, VIP, or VIP Plus. The Standard Ticket includes transportation on a basic pontoon boat. The VIP or VIP Plus Tickets include a pontoon boat with restrooms onboard and additional amenities like snacks, drinks, inflatables, games, and more.

Crab Island Pontoons

Offering private pontoon tours of Crab Island, plus dolphin-watching tours, Crab Island Pontoons seat up to 6 passengers and come with lots of amenities. Passengers can enjoy access to Bluetooth radio, an onboard cooler stocked with ice, floaties, paddle boards, snorkel masks, and more.

Crab Island Boat Rental

Popular with groups that want to spend the day out on the water, Crab Island Boat Rental offers a wide variety of bay boats and pontoon boat rentals that can be taken to Crab Island. For the more adventurous, they also offer jet skis that can be taken to Crab Island.

Destin Vacation Boat Rentals

With a large fleet of boat rentals plus Captain-led tours, Deston Vacation Boat Rentals offers a variety of ways to get to Crab Island. They also offer extra large double-decker pontoon boats with water slides — perfect for families and large groups!

Crab Island Adventure Kayak Rentals

Crab Island Adventure offers a unique and fun way to get to the island with clear kayaks that allow paddlers to see everything below the water’s surface. You’ll be able to spot a variety of marine life while paddling the clear, blue-green waters of Crab Island.

Things to Do at Crab Island

Photo Credit: View Apart

Float the Day Away

Once you get to Crab Island, you can relax and float the day away on an inflatable, listen to music, snorkel, or enjoy some food and drinks from one of the local vendor boats.

Grab Lunch

You’ll find everything from burgers and BBQ to ice cream and drinks served in coconuts and pineapples. If you need any essentials, you can even find floating “stores” selling sunscreen, hats, snorkel gear, and more.

Rent Water Activities

Depending on how you’re getting to Crab Island, you may have access to additional amenities like waterslides, floaties, and water games. While the popular inflatable water park is no longer there, many boat rentals and tour companies offer some of these fun, family-friendly extras. You can also buy or rent floaties and other water toys at the marina stores.

No two days are alike on Crab Island. You may find different vendors and different experiences each time, so be sure to float, swim, or paddle around to check out what’s being offered during your visit.

What to Bring to Crab Island

Photo Credit: learesphoto

You don’t need much to have a good time at Crab Island, but there are a few essentials:

  • Swimsuit
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Bottled water and/or sports drinks to stay hydrated
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Trash bag

Many people also choose to bring coolers with food and drink to enjoy on the water. Alcohol is allowed as long it is in non-glass containers. If you’re planning to purchase food and drink from the vendors, be sure to bring a credit card and some cash (some vendors only accept cash). A floating dry bag may also come in handy to keep your personal items safe.

Crab Island Weather

Crab Island is located in Destin, Florid, which has a humid subtropical climate. You’ll find plenty of sunshine and warm water year-round, even in the winter. Average temperatures throughout the year tend to stay in the 70s and 80s, but you can expect a few cold snaps during the winter that bring chillier temperatures.

During the summer months, Crab Island can get bouts of rain and thunderstorms, so it’s important to check the local forecast before heading out.

Like most of Florida, Destin and Crab Island are also on the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs from June through November. While storms are rare, staying informed and heed any local warnings if hurricanes arise is important. Don’t worry though, Destin has plenty of rainy day alternatives!

Crab Island Safety

Crab Island is all about having a good time, but there are some things you should know to stay safe in the water.

  • Mind the Currents: Stay on the sandbar and out of the channel; deepwater currents move quickly and can be extremely dangerous.
  • Lifejackets: If you’re visiting Crab Island with children or dogs, keep them in life jackets or PFDs at all times and keep a close eye on them.
  • Anchor Lines: When pulling your boat or kayak into Crab Island, go slow and look out for anchor lines.
  • Shallow Water: Don’t jump or dive into the water from boats; the water is very shallow, and injuries from jumping and diving off boats have occurred.
  • Bring Water: Stay hydrated and be mindful of alcohol consumption; the sun is strong and can dehydrate you quickly.
  • Check the Weather: Follow local advisories for weather and water conditions.

Best Time to Visit Crab Island

April to October

The best time to visit Crab Island is April through October. These months tend to provide the best water and weather conditions. On most days, you’ll find warm, clear, blue-green water with sunny skies above. Of course, rain still happens, especially during the summer, so it’s important to check the forecast before heading out.

Summertime

Summer days at Crab Island are the busiest; it’s not uncommon to see hundreds of boats anchored out there at a time. If you plan a summer trip or visit on July 4th or Memorial Day Weekend, it’s best to head out early to snag a good spot.

Check the Tide

It’s also important to consider the tide schedule when visiting Crab Island. If you’re looking for that iconic crystal clear water — you’ll want to go during high tide when the waters from the Gulf of Mexico sweep in.

Check local tide charts online or inquire with your tour operator about the best time of day to book your boat tour or rental.

Things to Do Nearby

While Crab Island is certainly a must-visit, there is lots more to see and do in this seaside paradise. Here are some of the best things to do in Destin:

Local Beaches

Destin is known for its beautiful beaches with sugar-white sand and stunning, emerald-colored water. No visit to the Emerald Coast is complete without spending some time with your toes in the sand!

Boating and Watersports

In addition to Crab Island excursions, you’ll find lots of other ways to get out on the water in Destin. You can go on snorkeling trips, dolphin-watching tours, sunset cruises, or spend the day kayaking, paddle boarding, parasailing, and more.

Fishing

While you can fish at Crab Island, it’s not known for having the best catch due to the heavy boat traffic and swimmers in the water. Don’t worry — there are plenty of great fishing spots in Destin. In fact, it’s even been nicknamed “The world’s luckiest fishing village.”

Golf

When you’re done stretching your sea legs on Crab Island and ready to spend some time on land, Destin has plenty of gorgeous golf courses to spend the day hitting the greens.

Restaurants and Nightlife

Destin has plenty of great restaurants with some of the freshest seafood around, plus “landlubber” favorites like steak, Italian cuisine, and more. You can also enjoy cocktails and live music at many local bars right on the water.

Crab Island is Calling

Ready to spend the day floating in paradise? Crab Island is calling. There’s no better way to enjoy an Emerald Coast vacation than by staying right on the beach. Every day, you’ll be greeted with gorgeous sunrises over those sparkling emerald-green waters that make Destin famous.

Just minutes from Crab Island — you’ll find a variety of beachfront vacation rentals with resort-style amenities like waterfall pools, lazy rivers, private beach access, and much more.

Book your stay with Coastal Vibe Vacations for the ultimate resort-style experience — just minutes from the dreamy, blue-green waters of Crab Island!

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