Crab Island Shuttle [Get to Crab Island Without Your Own Boat!]

December 4th 2023
Mike Fisher
Crab Island Shuttle [Get to Crab Island Without Your Own Boat!]

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Destin’s Crab Island is no longer the well-kept secret is was for decades. A popular hangout for locals, Crab Island has become a regional destination, drawing the attention of travelers far and wide. But new visitors often wonder, “how do I get there?”. It’s far too dangerous to swim to Crab Island, which is located beyond the strong currents of the Destin shoreline. The best way to get to Crab Island is by boat. But how do you get to crab island without a boat? Rentals are available (which we’ll discuss below), but millions of visitors have made the trek to Crab Island on the Crab Island Shuttle!

A Crab Island Shuttle Boat, also known as a Crab Island Water Taxi, is the easiest and cheapest way to get to Crab Island. Learn more about Crab Island, the Crab Island Shuttle, and incredible things to do at Crab Island and in Destin.

Table of Contents



What is Crab Island?


crab island map
Crab Island, pictured in the bottom right of the photo above, is a located next to the Destin Harbor and Pass

Crab Island Destin is not a traditional island. This popular spot is actually a sandbar located in the Choctawhatchee Bay. Crab Island has become a popular destination for boaters and tourists of all ages, visible from Destin’s William T. Marler Bridge. During low tide, the sandbar emerges, creating a shallow area in the bay where people anchor their boats and enjoy various water activities.

children playing in water at crab island
Two kids play in the crystal clear waters during their Crab Island excursion

While some images may depict a party atmosphere, Crab Island is very much-so a family friendly destination, with lots to do for all ages. Floating attractions and restaurants offer fun activities and food, and depending on the tide, shallow areas are perfect for toddlers and young children to stand and play in the water.


Cheapest way to get to Crab Island


boats anchored at crab island during busy summer day

If you’re not the lucky owner of a boat docked in Destin, you’ll have to rent a boat, or book passage on a shuttle or excursion to Crab Island. Many opt for a shuttle or excursion over a rental because the cost is lower, and there is a captain to drive the boat for you. All shuttles, excursions, and Crab Island boat rentals vary in price, availability, and amenities. Let’s explore the differences between Crab Island Shuttles, Excursions, and Boat Rentals.


Crab Island Shuttle Boat vs Boat Rental vs Excursion


pontoon boat rental at crab island


There are a variety of options for reaching Crab Island without your own boat. These include...

  • Shuttle - Shuttle boats, also known as “Water Taxis”, deliver guests to and from Crab Island. Typically departing from the Destin Harbor, this option is typically the most affordable, but offers the least amenities.
  • Boat Rental - Boat rentals range from pontoon boats and jet skis, to paddleboards and kayaks. While a trip to Crab Island on a non-motorized vessel should only be attempted by experienced swimmers with life jackets, pontoon boats and jet skis provide quick and easy transport. Keep in mind that drinking alcohol while operating a boat makes you liable for BWI, and a valid boaters licence is necessary for renters born on or after January 1, 1988 (learn more about Destin boaters licenses in our guide). Boat rentals have lots of perks, but are also one of the most expensive ways to visit Crab Island.
  • Excursion/Boat Tour - There are multiple excursions and tours available for those wanting to visit Crab Island. Offering more privacy and amenities than a standard shuttle, many excursions will provide snacks, supplies, activities, and private small group travel. Some Crab Island Cruises also offer sightseeing, glass bottom boat viewing, and even make stops at Crab Island for swimming.

While there are different Crab Island shuttles, rentals, and excursions from dozens of tour operators, the following table outlines the average differences between the three options. Always be sure to double check the details before booking a trip to Crab Island to make sure it meets your needs and expectations.

Crab Island Shuttle Boat Rental Excursion
Price $ $$ $$$
Difficulty Easy Moderate Easy
Captain Yes No Yes
Private No Yes Yes
Bathrooms Varies No Varies
Duration 2-4hrs 4-10hrs 2-8hrs


Crab Island Shuttle & Water Taxi


crab island shuttle


Water taxis and shuttle services operate in Destin and Fort Walton Beach offering rides to Crab Island. These services often have affordable rates, especially if you’re traveling with a group. Local tour operators offer these shuttles as a cost-friendly alternative to private excursions. Here are some important details to remember when considering a Crab Island Shuttle.

  • Shuttles are the most affordable option for reaching Crab Island. The tradeoff is typically shorter trip durations, and less amenities.
  • A Captain (and crew depending on the size of the boat) will get you to and from Crab Island safely. They will also park the boat, allowing you to roam free during your visit to the sandbar. Captains are not responsible for what you do on Crab Island, but they typically do their best to help you on/off the boat, and monitor the area for any hazards or fun opportunities.
  • Shuttles typically take place on large vessels capable of transporting multiple groups of people. Expect to share your boat ride with one or more groups of people. But don’t worry, once you reach Crab Island, you will be free to explore the sandbar with or without your fellow boat riders.
  • During busy times of year, it can be hard to find an available boat rental. Shuttles are a great alternative if you typically rent your own boat, but can’t find an available rental.

{Read Reviews & Book Crab Island Shuttle Trips Online}


More Things to do in Destin


man holding up trigger fish caught in destin florida
An angler shows off his trigger fish on a Destin deep sea fishing tour

There is so much to do in Destin on and off the water! From deep sea fishing to dolphin encounters as the Gulfarium, discover Destin Florida attractions for the whole family.

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