Best time to travel to Zanzibar

Coconut Crabs on Chumbe Island in Zanzibar

These giant arthropods quickly climb coconut palm trees and easily crack open their favourite food—coconuts. It is incredible and even a little scary

Coconut Crabs on Chumbe Island
Coconut Crabs on Chumbe Island
Coconut Crabs on Chumbe Island

Would you like to see the largest land crab in the world? Come to Chumbe Island and see the Coconut crab which has an ability to climb coconut palms and easily crack coconuts with its sturdy claws.

These crabs also eat fleshy fruit and even prey on smaller crabs. This species of crabs has evolved to live on land from the sea, returning only to lay their eggs. On land, they live in underground holes made with fibers from coconut husks. An adult crab can reach one meter in length. It has a curled-under abdomen that makes it look like a lobster. Coconut crabs, supposedly have very tasty meat, so, unfortunately, they are hunted. Chumbe Island is closed for the long rains from early April through early June. Thus, the best time to see these critters is from June to March.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Chumbe Island to see the coconut crabs?

To best see the coconut crabs, plan your visit to Chumbe Island from June to March. The island is inaccessible from early April to early June due to long rains. This annual closure offers an opportunity for the island's ecosystem to regenerate. Show more

Where do coconut crabs usually live and how do they build their habitat?

Coconut crabs typically dwell in underground burrows and utilize natural and artificial materials to create shelters. They use fibers from coconut husks to build their burrows which can take years to establish. They sometimes resort to abandoned containers and pots for shelter. Show more

What type of food do the coconut crabs eat on Chumbe Island, besides coconuts?

Apart from coconuts, coconut crabs include fleshy fruit, nuts, seeds, and carrion, in their diet. In their natural habitat, they have been known to feed on smaller animals, for instance, other crabs or baby rats. The crabs' strong claws permit them to break open all sorts of shells, nuts, and husks. Show more

How large can coconut crabs grow to and are they dangerous to humans?

Adult coconut crabs can reach up to a meter long, making them the biggest land-living arthropods globally. They are not typically dangerous, but they can cause significant harm with their strong claws if one tries to capture them or threatens them. It is best to observe these crabs from a respectful distance. Show more

Is it legal to hunt and eat coconut crabs on Chumbe Island, Zanzibar?

Coconut crabs are protected, and hunting or eating them is banned on Chumbe Island. To preserve the island's distinct biodiversity, strict conservation policies are in place. Chumbe Island's visitors must follow these rules, and violators face severe penalties. The only way to appreciate these crabs is by observing them in their natural environment. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin