Head To Florida's Panhandle To Party On This Unique And Bustling Sandbar Island

The small city of Destin is one of Florida's many popular beach towns located on what is known as the Emerald Coast. It began as a small fishing town, and while it is still a great destination for fishing adventures, it is now also known as an idyllic vacation spot with its stunning warm water, white sand beaches, and local dolphins. Along the town's seashore, visitors can snorkel, go on boating excursions, and get close to wildlife.

One of Destin's famous ocean attractions is Crab Island, just a short boat ride from the mainland. A day or afternoon spent here is a unique way to experience the region's vibrantly colored water. However, Crab Island does not look like an island on Google Maps — because it isn't. It is actually a submerged sandbar that stretches 4 acres, making the shallow water crystal clear and a light greenish blue rather than the ocean's usual deep hue. Boaters and jet skiers love to spend the day out at Crab Island with drinks, floating picnics, and games, and the area has a party atmosphere that is fun for the whole family.

Boat tours can help you get to Crab Island

An amazing way to enjoy the water and its wildlife is from a boat tour. With Emerald Coast Island Excursions, you can choose from tours centered around wildlife, the Destin harbor, or both, with all trips stopping at Crab Island. This organization's private charter boats come with access to snorkel gear, various watersports balls, and features like hammocks and floating water mats so you can lounge on the water or use them to play games like beer pong. If you're traveling as a family, check out Destin Vacation Boat Rentals, which hosts a Crab Island Adventure Tour great for kids and adults. It includes a dolphin tour, a banana boat ride, and unlimited access to kayaks, paddleboards, snorkel gear, and more.

However, you do not have to enlist the help of a tour company to reach and enjoy Crab Island. Companies like Xtreme H2O have jet ski rentals and pontoons you can drive yourself — including some with built-in waterslides. If you'd rather relax than do the driving, you can hop on the Crab Island Shuttle Boat.

 No matter how you get to Crab Island, part of the fun that comes with visiting this destination is the possibilities. Volleyball nets are set up across the sandbar and people come with footballs, frisbees, and more. Get some exercise playing sports with fellow islanders or relax with inflatables on the calm waters.

Commercial regulations could change Crab Island's party reputation

If you want to get close to the underwater world of Crab Island, its clear light emerald water makes for excellent visibility. Snorkelers might see dolphins, sea turtles, and, of course, crabs. The water covering the sandbar only gets up to around 4 feet deep, so even if you are not a seasoned snorkeler, Crab Island can be the perfect destination to quite literally get your feet wet.

This hotspot may see some changes soon. Crab Island is located within the Gulf Islands National Seashore and the National Parks Service (NPS) has a say in the area's commercial activity. In 2023, the NPS aimed to create a more robust approval process for those wishing to obtain permits to sell goods or services on Crab Island. This could mean fewer vendors frequenting the emerald waters, but this should not deter visitors. You can bring your own food and drinks (including alcohol) and tour companies will still operate. Keep in mind that the aforementioned regulations are in consideration to preserve the area's natural beauty and keep the unique experiences you can only have in Florida available for future visitors.