Anyone who has visited Destin knows that one of the most popular boating spots in the area is the infamous sandbar known locally as Crab Island. The sandbar, now fully submerged, once rose out of the water forming a small sandy island.
“I have, in the past, seen a little bit of sand come up in the winter,” said longtime Destin local Eric Cadenhead. “I’ve seen three or four feet of sand out of the water but only when the wind is blowing really hard.”
“There weren’t very many people out there in ’99 when I started; there were probably 30 to 40 boats but the volume of people has probably tripled since then.”
Cadenhead has owned a business on Crab Island for the past 15 years, and said he was one of the first vendors to venture out to the summer hot-spot.
“For the first eight years I ran Crab Island Trading Company, and I was the only business out there,” he said. “There weren’t very many people out there in ’99 when I started; there were probably 30 to 40 boats but the volume of people has probably tripled since then.”
Today, Cadenhead operates Destination Crab Island LLC, which features a large inflatable waterslide, trampoline and climbing sphere, as well as an ice cream boat called Gulf Stream Ice Cream… and the only bathroom on Crab Island.
The bathroom area sits on a floating 40-by-20-foot dock that also has four picnic tables and several lounge chairs for boaters to enjoy.
Destination Crab Island is located on the Northeast end of the sandbar, directly in front of the Destin Marina and Dewey Destin’s Bay location.
Chomp N Chill
While boating on Crab Island, you won’t be able to miss Chris Chataignier’s floating Cajun restaurant, Chomp N Chill; it’s the double-decker, lime-green barge with a very hungry looking shark mascot on every side.
“Our slogan is, ‘If you have the munchies, we have the cure,’ ” said Chataignier. “Our specialty is our Cajun burgers; that’s what everybody knows us for. And our shipwreck nachos; one order of nachos will feed a whole boat.”
The Chomp N Chill offers an array of gourmet burgers, hotdogs, nachos and New Orleans-style Snow Balls.
Chataignier has been operating on Crab Island for seven years and said with every year he learns something new about the business.
“Every time someone came by to ask me for something, I started carrying it and trying it out,” he said. “Now we sell baby diapers, headache and nausea stuff, and jelly fish ointment.”
Captain Nemo’s Watersports
Jeremiah Shastid of Captain Nemo’s Watersports may be one of the newest vendors out at Crab Island, as this year marks his fourth season, but he already knows what it takes to gain success among the masses.
“You have to always be adding something new with all the competition out there,” he said.
Captain Nemo’s, a floating yellow hut, currently offers Jet Ski, paddle board and kayak rentals as well as banana boat rides.
“If they are 25 or under we have to give them a safe boater’s course and a boating license,” said Shastid. “Everybody gets the basic instructions on where to go, and how to safely operate the Jet Ski.”
Want To Go?
Don’t have your own boat? Don’t worry you can rent a pontoon HERE and save! There are also several floating businesses at Crab Island. Here are a few that offer rentals, food and entertainment while anchored on the sandbar:
• Captain Nemo’s Watersports, 850-499-6400
• Chomp N Chill, 850-502-7118
• Crab Island Online, 850-855-6907
• Crab Island Time, 850-837-0968
• Destination Crab Island LLC
• Destin Ice & Tackle, 850-865-2118
• Reef Burger, 850-685-7041Book Pontoon