Crab Island is actually not an island. It’s a sandbar out in the middle of the bay with lots of boats, and people playing in the water which ranges from 2′ to 10′ feet deep and is waist-level in many areas depending on the tide. See the tide chart.
Crab Island is one of the highest-rated attractions in Destin. It is the focal point of many aerial photographs of the area and has been featured on many TV shows such as HGTV and Good Morning America. Crab Island is more than likely the main reason Boating Magazine named Destin one of the ‘Top 10 Places to Live and Boat’ in the United States in 2020.
Crab Island is located at the entrance of Choctawhatchee Bay. As you drive east on Hwy 98 and cross the bridge going into Destin, Crab Island will be on your left. Look for all the boats. Please note, the speed limit crossing the bridge is 35 MPH. Watch for cars slowing down to get a glimpse of Crab Island as you cross. Please don’t do this. Accidents can ruin vacations, not to mention lives.
If you can, try to visit Crab Island during high tide. You’ll experience breathtaking turquoise water that is usually waist-deep for adults.
There are various things to do while out at Crab Island for a day: snorkel, relax on the boat, swim, play volleyball, hunt for crabs, or walk around and sightsee as you meet other boaters. Think of it as the largest swimming pool you have ever been in with a chance to see marine life such as dolphins, fish, and turtles.
At one time, there was an inflatable water park and several floating food vendors. Ordinances have been passed that require all watercraft to dock at night. That means there are no stationary structures at Crab Island. Nearly all of the vendors are gone. The only ones you will see are usually small boats that roam around the sandbar selling peanuts, ice cream, or frozen drinks. In other words, bring your own food, beverages, and entertainment while visiting the sandbar.
The summer months and holidays bring out extra crowds. Arrive early if you want a preferred spot. If you’re not familiar with driving a boat, it’s best to anchor on the outskirts of the island to avoid accidents.
Crab Island is technically always open. However, it’s best during daylight hours since the clear water is the main attraction.
There are several options for reaching Crab Island that include, shuttles and tours, or you can rent watercraft such as jet skis/waverunners, kayaks, or pontoon boats. The strong tidal currents and heavy boat activity simply make it too dangerous to swim to from the marina or harbor. Renting a kayak to reach Crab Island is recommended only for experienced kayakers due to the current. It goes without saying, but we will anyway. Do NOT jump from the bridge to reach the sandbar.
If you rent a boat, you will need to bring your own beverages and snacks (alcohol is ok), floaties, water toys, and everything else you need for the water. Designate a driver if you plan to have alcohol. The legal blood alcohol limit in Florida is .08, the same as driving a car. This is strictly enforced by the Okaloosa County Sherriff’s office, the US Coast Guard, the FWC, and the National Parks Service.