5 Tips for Boating to Crab Island

Destin stands as one of the world's most enchanting locations, renowned for its pristine, emerald-green waters and stretches of white sandy beaches. Drawing countless families seeking an unforgettable vacation experience, Destin boasts a plethora of diverse activities. Among the cherished pastimes, a visit to Crab Island emerges as one of the favorites among families, making it an ideal destination for those enjoying a getaway in Destin. There are a few things you should know when venturing to Crab Island, especially if you are visiting by boat rental. Here are 5 tips for boating to Crab Island: 

1. Visit During High Tide 

Crab Island is generally safe and wonderful for kids. However, you should be aware of the tides. Typically Crab Island will have two tidal changes a day. High tide is the best time on Crab Island. That’s when all the clear water from the Gulf of Mexico has entered the pass, the water is still, and you will want your cameras ready! 

Crab Island is spectacular at high tide with beautiful clear emerald green water. The water typically remains at high tide for 45 minutes to an hour. However, ~90 minutes before & after high tide, the water flows in or out quickly, and it can become like a river. Always ensure young children wear a life vest, particularly when the flow of water is at its strongest. 

PRO TIP: Download an app called "Windfinder" that will show you the times of the local tides each day. You can also check the tides here: www.usharbors.com/harbor/florida/destin-choctawhatchee-bay-east-pass-fl/tides/

2. Park on the Northwest Side of the Island 

When arriving at Crab Island, a great place to park your boat is on the northwest side of the island, close to the Coast Guard station, where the current is the calmest. It also provides closer access to popular attractions, including floating restaurants, social hubs, and bathrooms, reducing the need for lengthy walks. The northwest side is typically less crowded, providing a more enjoyable experience for everyone! 

When selecting a spot for the day, again pay attention to the depth of the water. A good rule of thumb is to look at the people who are already standing in the water. If they are standing waist-deep, then the level should be roughly 3 to 4 feet, which is a good depth for a family with kids.

3. Bring Your Own Food & Drink 

While Crab Island does have several floating bars and restaurants to choose from, it is best to bring your own food and drink. You won’t regret bringing a cooler full of water, other favorite drinks, and snacks/lunch for your whole family to enjoy! For a full packing list, download our Mother’s Guide to Crab Island here. 

4. Set Anchor Away From Other Boats 

Once you've maneuvered your boat to its designated spot, drop the anchor and ensure a safe distance from neighboring boats. Allow 20 to 30 feet of line and anchor chain to be submerged, securing your boat in place. A useful technique is attaching a life jacket to the line; this serves as a visible marker for other boaters, preventing accidental collisions with your anchor. Additionally, to avoid potential navigation challenges on Crab Island, affix a flag to your boat for easy identification—getting lost is surprisingly common, and a visible marker aids in locating your vessel amidst the bustling activity.

5. Take Cash 

Lastly, we do recommend supporting the local vendors on Crab Island, but is important to note that most of them are cash only! A few of our favorite local vendors are: 

  • Reef Burger: Reef Burger is an established classic and has great burgers! However, consider yourself forewarned that they are big enough to share. 
  • Jimmy's Ice Cream: Jimmy's Ice Cream at Crab Island offers a delightful array of frozen treats, providing a sweet respite for visitors amidst the sun-soaked activities.
  • Crab Island Grill: Crab Island Grill is a waterfront dining gem at Crab Island, serving up a delectable fusion of coastal flavors and offering a vibrant dining experience against the scenic backdrop of emerald-green waters.

Wrap up Your Day Early…

As the sun sets on your fantastic day at Crab Island, it's time to wrap up your unforgettable adventure. 

Whether you own a boat or belong to a boat club, the freedom to come and go at your leisure adds an extra layer of enjoyment. Keep in mind the return times, especially if you're part of the rental fleet, which typically heads back between 5:00 - 5:30 p.m. 

For half-day pontoon rentals, seize every moment at Crab Island, pushing the experience to the limit. However, if you opted for a full-day rental, consider departing about an hour to an hour-and-a-half before your allotted time ends. This strategic decision helps you avoid the inevitable rush of departing rental boats, ensuring a smoother exit and minimizing water traffic issues. 

Don't forget to pack up your belongings in advance for a swift departure upon reaching the dock. And lastly, show appreciation to the dockhands by leaving a tip – it's a significant part of their income and a gesture they genuinely value. 

As you reflect on the day's memories, anticipate your kids eagerly asking, "Can we go to Crab Island again next year?"—a testament to the lasting magic of your family's aquatic getaway. For additional family-friendly Crab Island tips, click here for more. 

If you have questions about Crab Island or want to rent a double-decker pontoon boat for your next Crab Island adventure. Reach out to our team here or reserve your boat by clicking the image below! We look forward to helping you in any way that we can. 

Reserve Your Boat Today


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