The recent rain showers have ushered in a time-honored Caymanian tradition – crabbing! We don’t mean catching the tiny little crabs you see burrowing under the sand on Plantana’s stretch of Seven Mile Beach. We mean their much larger and bigger-clawed cousins locals catch to make a tasty island meal.

The hunting of land crabs takes place between April and June and is a perfect activity to enjoy with friends and family. You might not see much happening around the Plantana property, but if you are ever out on the town at night during crabbing season and see flickers of light in the bush-lined roadsides, it could very well be crab hunters looking for their treasure. They’ll likely be carrying buckets – referred locally as called ‘cyags’ - and flashlights, and also, wearing reflective clothing (which is highly recommended for all taking part). 

Crab hunters follow the natural path of the land crabs, making their way from the interior lands to the sea.  The reason for their emergence is connected to the rains, as rainwater fills the crab holes, driving the crabs from their underground homes.  Once they’ve mated, a mass migration takes place, and females return to the sea to release fertilized eggs.  Crab hunters are wise to release any females with eggs if caught in error because the land crab population has dramatically declined due to the destruction of their natural habitat for development purposes. So, every baby crab counts.

Once caught, crabs - which range in color from creamy white to light blue and black - are put in backyard pens and fed a special diet of veggies over several days to purge them before they are ready to be cooked. They’re then boiled and although the meat is taken out for preparation, it’s often returned to the shell for an attractive presentation on a dinner plate. While many locals catch and keep the crabs to eat for themselves, they also sell them at events and even deliver. There’s nothing like a locally-sourced, home-cooked meal, delivered to your office desk for lunch!

(To address the white elephant…we mean, crab in the room – YES! They do pinch really, really, hard!  If you know a local that is going out, be sure to learn the catching technique which requires you hold them from the back and beware of the claws.  It is always best to go crabbing with an experienced catcher.) 

Even if crabbing is not your thing, you might think of your own cultural heritage traditions.  As part of your stay at Plantana, your home away from home, we also invite you explore Cayman and be a part of the local happenings, if only to buy an authentic local dish.  Happy crab season!