Are you planning a visit to Crab Island in Destin, Florida? Here’s our top 5 tips for the perfect day at Crab Island!
1. Go During High Tide if Possible
Crab Island is known for crystal clear water that looks like a swimming pool but the color actually varies a lot during the year and at different times of the day. The clearest water is usually found at high tide. This is because the water from the Gulf of Mexico comes in as the tide is rising, filling Crab Island with beautiful clear water.
When the tide is going out, Crab Island fills with water from the Choctawhatchee Bay which is usually more of a tea color. The color of the water changes gradually throughout this process.
Check a tide chart before planning your trip to try and be there in the few hours before and after high tide if you want the clearest water. Here is a good one to check for Destin: https://www.usharbors.com/harbor/florida/destin-choctawhatchee-bay-east-pass-fl/tides/
2. Plan your Visit from May through October
The water at Crab Island will be the warmest from March through October. The rest of the year is usually a bit chilly for swimming and enjoying Crab Island to the fullest. May through October is also the best time to visit for the clearest water, since more high tides fall during the daytime in summer. People will visit Crab Island all throughout the year, but it’s an entirely different place from November through April and usually too chilly to swim for most people.
Plan your visit between Memorial Day and Labor Day if you want to be there when there are vendors out. Vendors include the General Store along with various floating restaurants, ice cream boats, and rentals such as kayaks and paddle boards.
3. Bring your own Food and Drinks
Crab Island has changed a lot over the last several years and there are only a handful of vendors out now compared to how many there used to be. This has to do with the ever-changing laws around use of Crab Island. Vendors are no longer able to anchor overnight at Crab Island which made it impossible for many of the larger structures to continue operations. About 10 vendors are left out there selling things like burgers, pizza, ice cream, peanuts, and various non-alcoholic drinks.
We highly encourage you to support the Crab Island vendors but if you want to drink alcohol or have more variety in food options then you should plan to bring your own. You can drink alcohol on Crab Island if you bring your own (no glass) but it is illegal for the vendors to sell it.
4. Stay Safe at Crab Island
Crab Island is a fun place to hang out and enjoy but, just like the Gulf of Mexico, it can be dangerous too. The highest risk at Crab Island is swift currents and drownings. Stay on the inside of Crab Island, rather than the outer edges in order to stay safer from swift currents and deeper water.
Sometimes injuries also occur from people misjudging the depth of the water. Never dive into the water at Crab Island because it might be more shallow than it appears. Always make sure someone sober is with you to both operate the boat and to make sure everyone is safe.
5. Take a Boat with a Captain for the most Worry-Free Experience
Crab Island can only be accessed by boat or watercraft which means making sure you have a responsible designated driver. Adults can rent a boat in Florida by passing a short boater safety course but it can still be stressful to drive it for an inexperienced boater.
There’s a lot of boat traffic on Destin Harbor and around Crab Island, especially during the summer, adding additional stress to what should be a fun day. Also they are very strict about boating and driving laws in Destin so the driver should be someone who is not planning to drink.
For these reasons, it’s sometimes best to go with an experienced captain to Crab Island so you can just enjoy the day with friends and family. There are many tour companies in Destin offering trips to Crab Island but usually they involve going on a boat with a big group of strangers who you have to stay with the entire day.
If you want a more personal experience with just your family and friends, consider a private Crab Island trip with us at Pelican Adventures aboard our “Just Right” boat. We take small groups up to 6 people out to Crab Island to anchor up, swim, and enjoy the day. Along the way we will look for dolphins and if you prefer we can go to a snorkeling spot instead of Crab Island. Call for more information 850-650-3825 or book online!