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When is the best time to go to Crab Island?

Crab Island is a popular sandbar located in the Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin, Florida. The sandbar is visited by thousands of tourists and locals throughout spring, summer and fall. Many ask “What is the best time to go to Crab Island” and that is based on what you are looking for.


There are 3 things you have to take into account for basing on when you should go:


  1. Water Temperature

  2. Water color

  3. Crowd levels

Let's talk water temperature first!

 

Spring – The water in the spring can range from 70 degrees all the way up to the mid eighties in late spring. You are on a sandbar so its quite comfortable being waist deep. One positive thing about the cooler water temps is there are not any jellyfish typically during this time! When the sun is out, the water feels perfect, even to us Floridians.




 

Summer – The water temperature in the summer is warm and delightful. The closer you get to fall, the more the water feels like a bathtub! Keep in mind from late July to Early September, the water is at the warmest. This can also bring more jellyfish to the area-so we suggest going at low tide during those months to avoid them. We will get more into that in the water clarity section!




 

Fall – Fall can be the best time to go to Crab Island for several reasons. First, the water is still warm. Second, the crowds are low. Third, the winds are typically light and the summer storms are less frequent. We sometimes are getting into the water all the way into December! October and November are when things are starting to cool down, so if you want to guarantee warmer weather go the beginning of October or late September.

Now let's talk water clarity!


Crab Island is located in the Choctawhatchee Bay, not the Gulf. This means that the tides heavily affect what the water looks like at the sandbar. We normally will base the predicted water color off of two markers: High Tide and Low Tide.


During high tide, the water is rushing in from the Gulf of Mexico. That means we are getting the Emerald Coast water color, which can be a very vibrant blue or a very clear blue. Here is an example of what it looks like at high tide:




High tide typically brings in more ocean life as well. Jellyfish and dolphins are more common during high tide, and you will be able to view turtles clearly if you find them!


Low tide is when the water is pulling in from the bay. The water in the bay is full of tannins that give it a browner color. Sometimes people call it "dirty water" but it is very clean, just heavier on tannins! Low tide is a great alternative to avoid jellyfish in the warmer months, and is typically warmer water in the spring if you are worried about the water temps. Here is a photo example of low tide:




 The water is still very clear, it's just a different color!


Now let's talk about the different crowds you can get at Crab Island.


Every weekend from March until October will be busier with the "party crowds". They are lighter in the shoulder seasons (March-May, September-October), so if you want to avoid larger and rowdier crowds, try a Sunday instead of a Saturday! Weekdays are always going to be slower, with Tuesday as our historically slowest day.





If you are going in the spring, March has very few crowds on the weekdays but that also means less vendors will be out at Crab Island. My favorite month to recommend before summer starts is May! If you get there before Memorial Day weekend, the weather is perfect and all of the vendors are out after spring break.





Summer is going to be busy every day, and the busiest days will be 4th of July weekend or Memorial day weekends. Expect thousands of boats! Again, Tuesday is going to be the slowest day in the summer but there will still be some crowds. All of the vendors are out at this time, make sure to get a pineapple and a reef burger!


We hope this gives you a better idea of when to go to Crab Island.

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