Most visitors stay somewhere on or near our beautiful beach, so it’s no wonder that everyone wants to know all about crabs and crabbing in Destin. Here is a sampling of some of the most frequently asked questions (and answers) as inquiring minds want to know!
1. What types of crabs are in Destin?
There are four types of crabs along the sugary shoreline in the Destin area. The one most common is called a Ghost Crab due to their white almost invisible clear color that is hard to see. These crabs are tiny and inedible by humans but considered a delicious delicacy among seagull and fish. They are about the size of the end of your thumb, and you may sometimes see them scurrying about during the day near the surf. They’re actually kind of cute looking. They pop out of little holes in the sand to scrounge around for food then burrow back below when a wave, human or bird comes near.
Stone Crabs may be found in Destin in fairly deep water but only harvested by law from October 15th thru May 15th for strict conservation purposes. You may only have one gallon per person crabbing. Only the claws are edible, so most people remove the largest one and throw the crab back into the water. You leave the other claw intact so they may easily survive and the claw removed will grow back.
Big Blue Crabs are the most common crab found in the Destin area and also the tastiest since the meat is sweet, delicate and mild. They are actually a greenish blue color although males do have more blue tones on their legs.
Hermit Crabs are also found along the bay and in many beach stores available for purchase as a pet. Despite their name, these little guys are actually social creatures and can live up to 10 years!
2. Where can you go crabbing in Destin?
Most Blue Crabs are located along the rock jetties at East Pass near Holiday Isle, near the grassy flats in shallow waters of Choctawhatchee Bay and halfway across the jetty park beside the long Route 331 bridge that connects Santa Rosa Beach to Freeport. If you’re out on the bay, you may see the crabs in shallow swimming pool clear water when the tide is coming in. You need a pole with a net attached to the end to scoop them out of the water and into a bucket when you see them. You may rent a pontoon boat for such an adventure at Harborwalk Village and receive a discount as our Ocean Reef guest. Onshore you may use the simple Line Method. Tie a chicken neck or back onto the end of a long string and toss it in the water near the shore. Leave the line at ease until you see it moving away. Slowly pull the line back to shore, see the crab or crabs attached to the meat and then scoop them up with your net and into the bucket. Some people will buy and use wire box traps but these may be expensive for casual use, and you may only have five of them out in the water at any given time. Otherwise, there is no limit to how many Blue Crabs you may catch but most people toss back females that have visible eggs or small ones.
3. What time do crabs come out onto the beach?
Although Ghost crabs can be seen on the beach during the daytime they usually come out at night in greater frequency since the beach is less busy. You may have seen couples and families out on the beach at night looking for them. They are often caught at night for fun since they are easier to see when the beach is fairly vacant. All you need is a flashlight and a little net. You can try to catch them with your hands, but they move very fast. They may be used as great fish bait.
4. Where can we go to eat crabs in Destin?
Crab cakes, crab quiche and fried or sautéed crab claws are the most popular offerings in some local restaurants. Some popular places include The Crab Trap, Pompano Joe's, O’Quigley’s Seafood Steamer, Dewey Destin’s, Louisiana Lagniappe and The Back Porch just to name a few. Ocean Reef has partnered with a local famous chef known as Sarah K Gourmet, who has received national acclaim for her Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes which you may bring back to your place with a free complimentary bottle of champagne if you buy four or more (order here ahead of time to have them in your fridge when you check-in). Since nearly all our vacation rental properties come with large up to date kitchens some of our guests get Blue Crabs from Destin seafood markets like Sexton’s, Destin Ice and Blalock ’s and home boil them the old fashioned way with Old Bay or stream them with beer, vinegar, and some spices. All you need is some handheld crackers for the claws, a little lemon butter dipping sauce, tons of napkins and maybe even some plastic bibs!
5. What is Crab Island?
Crab Island used to be an island of sorts years ago but was actually a raised sandbar that attracted lots of Blue Crabs. It now remains submerged in crystal clear waters that range from one to five feet in depth. The crabs are nearby but now this “island” has become an awesome place for giant boat parties, and you have probably spotted it on the bay side of the Destin Bridge. People arrive on private yachts, speed boats, pontoons, sailboats, kayaks and even jet skis to anchor there for some fun gallivanting about. Ocean Reef Resorts guests may join the fun in discounted boat rentals at Harborwalk Village. Party participants usually bring coolers of iced beer or favorite drinks along with picnic baskets filled with tasty food. However floating Tiki type venues now offer food, drinks or ice cream while radio stations often conduct Live Musical Broadcasts with fun water sports contests. Crab Island’s frolic received national celebrity on a broadcast of ABC’s Good Morning America news several years ago and just recently on an episode from HGTV.
Now you are in the know about crabs in Destin. We have lots of great Destin vacation rentals available nearby these tasty crustaceans, so take a look here on our user-friendly website and plan to have fun!