The island of Jamaica is full of surprises. One tasty surprise is one you can’t miss if you’re on the island during the months of May to June (Sometimes as early as April). The Jamaican Land Crab is something you’ll see on the side of the road, in pots, on strings and even in supermarkets if you’re really lucky. The large crustacean animals live on land, in fairly sized holes.
Shy at first approach, these quick little guys and gals will not venture far from their hole homes. When approached during daylight, they quickly run back to the mouth of the hole for protection and safety. They often linger at the mouth of the hole, unless you try to provoke them with a stick or something. They’re more active at night, when there’s less activity from animals, pets and humans. Not only are they fast, they’re very creative and smart.
They will climb trees, fences and sometimes even make their way into houses. If they get cornered or not fast enough to get away, they quickly display their claws for defense. If you ever plan on catching these guys, make sure you avoid the small claw. The big claw is really for show, and holding large objects. The small claw is for pinching and killing prey.
Crab hunters know just about every crab trick in the book, and easily capture dozens of these critters at a time. Often selling them directly or to vendors, this occupation can be a seasonal and profitable task. Often hunting at night, crab hunters may wear protective gloves and carry a bag for storing the critters. Those with eggs under their bellies are released or never caught. Same for those who are also too small. It’s rare a crab hunter will include small crabs in his catch.
The most famous place around the island for crabs is a place called “Heroes Circle” in Kingston, Jamaica. At this round about location, crab vendors are seen selling crabs that are pre-boiled, often hanging from pots, ready to eat. Spices like pepper, thyme and other ingredients are added for top notch flavor.
During my trip to the island in 2015, I had the chance to go try out this famous spot. For it is said to have crabs all year round, and being a huge fan, I would never let the opportunity pass. So of course, I found my way to Heroes Circle at last.
I will be 100% honest. For me, growing up around crabs all my life, I expected better tasting crabs. I wasn’t totally impressed. The crabs were mostly just spicy and salty, but edible. There’s definitely room for improvement. But again, this was only from one vendor, so I can’t say for sure if they all cook crabs the same way.
So next time you’re in Jamaica, stop by and maybe even buy for a few vendors and see which one suits your taste!