Vacation Rentals Events Weather News Book Activities Things To Do Sign In

Why the Water Color Changes at Crab Island.

If you have ever been to Destin, odds are you have heard of Crab Island! Incase you are not familiar with Crab Island, it is an underwater sandbar that is located north of the Marler Bridge in Destin, FL. Crab Island is known for its beautiful, waters and popular social scene for boaters. Thus, Crab Island has become a tourist attraction for locals and visitors to spend a day on the water. Boaters, can anchor to Crab Island and spend a day in the waist deep waters among family and friends. Crab Island is only accessible by boat, therefore, if you do not own a watercraft, you will need to rent one or look into a shuttle to the island. Visit our “Book Activities” tab on our main page and from there, you can find more information.

Section Image

Where did Crab Island Come From?

In order for us to explain the water changes in Crab Island, we need to explain where Crab Island came from. In the 1960s, the Army Corps of Engineers dredged the Destin Pass and created the Jetties to stabilize the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. The sand from the dredging project was deposited into the Choctawhatchee Bay and formed the small island that eventually came to be known as Crab Island. As time went on, drifting sands from the Gulf of Mexico, with the help of the occasional hurricane, began to erode the spoil island. It eventually became what it is today: an underwater sandbar and popular place to anchor your boat. Today, the water is very shallow. The sandbar ranges from 1-4 feet deep in most places. 

Section Image

Why does the Water Color Change at Crab Island?

Crab Island’s location is unique in that it is open to the tidal inflow and outflow of the crystal clear, emerald green water from the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. Yet, it is protected from the surf and waves that you would typically experience along the beach. With that in mind, our bay is “brackish” water which is fresh, salt water, giving it the brownish color.  Our bay also has a river, creeks, and springs that feed into it as well as the salt water from the Gulf.  When it is low tide, the water rushes out of the pass to the Gulf and when it is high tide, the crystal clear waters are coming in the pass from the Gulf. The high tide Gulf water pushes the brackish water back bringing on the emerald green clear waters and reveals Crab Islands beauty.  From above the waters of Crab Island, you can see the brackish line moving in and out with the tide throughout the day. It is completely fine to be in the water at either low or high tide times. During high tide, when the water is clear, this depends upon how fast or slow the tide is in between high/low tides. A general rule of thumb is 3-4 hours before and 2-3 hours after high tide.  The best way to find out the tide times for the day is to Google or check out this website we found,

Section Image

As you plan your trip to Crab Island, it might be smart to check the tide times for the day, especially if the color of the water is important to you. However, the high tide does last a while so odds are you will have some crystal green emerald waters at some point during your visit. There’s tons to do out at Crab Island, make sure you tag us in your photos! Stay safe and enjoy the beauty of our precious, Crab Island.