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Coconut Crab

Victoria
Level Contributor
3 posts
3 reviews
Coconut Crab

We found restaurants in Port Vila (Efate) offering Coconut Crab. Coconut crab is not crab flavoured with coconut, it is the worlds' largest species of hermit crab. Due to lack of data and scientific research, the IUCN Conservation Status of this species is unknown, however they are thought to be endangered. Coconut crabs are now locally extinct from Efate. Due to tourist demand they are being sourced from the outer islands where locals may not fully understand the long-term impact of over-harvesting on their traditional food source. A taste is not worth contributing to the extinction of a remarkable species or robbing local communities of their traditional foods.

13 replies to this topic
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
1,304 posts
96 reviews
1. Re: Coconut Crab

It also tastes like crap.

Australia
Destination Expert
for Port Vila, Vanuatu
Level Contributor
2,529 posts
158 reviews
2. Re: Coconut Crab

So true. We avoid environmentally ignorant restaurants that still sell them. Many have cottoned on to the better promotion and patronage of responsible restaurants that DONT sell them.

The other thing is that on the outer islands where they are sourcing them now due to low numbers on Efate, they pay the locals bugger all for the CCs then sell them for a relative fortune to tourists. So catching them to sell gives very little benefit to locals anyway (who actually don't like to eat them much unless they are desperate). They are also cruelly kept for tourists displays and need to have access to the sea for part of their lifecycle to breed and be healthy.

I have seen places also selling undersized ones (and undersized lobsters too). So the breeding aged stock is much reduced on outer islands. They are are illegal to catch in the breeding season but this is not policed so they are available all year round.

So if you see them on the menu, know that the only coconut part is the sauce and you can have that coconut cream sauce on any seafood, preferably something more sustainable like locally farmed fresh water prawns or black claw crabs (look like mud crab).

Edited: 28 April 2017, 08:15
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
237 posts
21 reviews
3. Re: Coconut Crab

I am glad I read this thread as I had no idea. I had assumed it would be coconut flavoured dish of crab. Could you please recommend some restaurants to try in Port Avila and some local dishes to try. Many thanks.

Australia
Destination Expert
for Port Vila, Vanuatu
Level Contributor
2,529 posts
158 reviews
4. Re: Coconut Crab

Hi Ausie_gal, if you would like to try local food eat at the food stalls at the back of the main markets (cheap and cheerful). If you like french food try L'Houstalet for their flying fox dish (in red wine). If you go on a round island tour you may get to try local foods such as Tuluk or Laplap (at markets as well). Google Vanuatu food to see some options.

Have fun choosing!

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
237 posts
21 reviews
5. Re: Coconut Crab

Thanks

Victoria
Level Contributor
3 posts
3 reviews
6. Re: Coconut Crab

Great :)

We actually didn't eat out much in Port Vila, we ate at Paradise Cove restaurant which was heaven. We actually didn't come across many traditional foods, it could be because we didn't look hard enough. It's not like Thailand or Indonesia where local restaurants serve local dishes, they all seemed to be very western. Check out the local markets in Port Vila though, lots of fresh fruit and veggies and little stalls run by local people, as opposed to the shipped-in plastic crap that fills up the "souvenir" shops on the main street.

Adelaide, Australia
Level Contributor
3 posts
180 reviews
7. Re: Coconut Crab

WOW so glad I read your post. I would have tried coconut crab but not now. Glad I have started doing my research before I depart to efate in July 2017. Cheers Wendy

Christchurch, New...
Level Contributor
25 posts
8. Re: Coconut Crab

When we went to Efate we were excited about the thought of seeing some large coconut crabs in the wild. We asked around and nobody could tell us where there were some anymore. Pretty sad. They could make a tourist venture out of it if there were some.

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Vanuatu, Port Vila, Espiritu Santo
Level Contributor
3,915 posts
25 reviews
9. Re: Coconut Crab

The only ones I've seen on Efate were in cages or tied up. The tourist ventures that include wildlife are usually run at the expense of the animals in question and are best avoided.

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
2 posts
4 reviews
10. Re: Coconut Crab

So glad to read this post, albeit an old one. I am butting heads with a venture here (I live in Port Vila sometimes) who keep a coconut crab in a cage for tourists to hold. And they keep wild lorikeets and other birds in cages, for tourists’ entertainment. I hate it.

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