Niue: Hunting (and eating) Coconut Crabs

Coconut crabs are the world’s largest land crabs, in fact, it’s the largest living arthropod in the world. The grow to 4 kg (9 lb) and to up to 1 m (3 ft) in length from leg to leg. On most of the islands of Pacific and Indian Oceans where coconut crabs live they are considered delicacy. On Niue, they are known as “uga” and are widespread given that almost the entire island is just a one giant limestone impenetrable jungle with caves and holes and spiky rocks everywhere, overgrown with coconut trees (the crabs’ primary food source). The crab hunting involves leaving semi open coconuts tied to rocks and then being able to grab the crab very carefully while they are eating the coconuts. Their claws are extremely strong and can easily snap off a human finger if handled wrong. They are best if grilled right there in the forest on the fresh coals (sadly, they are thrown into the fire live, like lobsters). There is a lot of meat in legs, claws, and body, but by far the most delicious part is the tail. I was expecting a lobster-like tail but turns out that the tail of a coconut crab is just pure rich fat with a consistency of foie-gras. This goes down as the best experience in the Pacific!