Take a trip to the tropics to learn about Fiji’s fine art of crab racing.
The call of the South Pacific is like a siren song for many. Be it an annual sojourn during the holidays or a once in a lifetime romantic getaway, the idyllic postcard images of palm lined beaches and azure blue waters lapping at the shore draw thousands of visitors to the Fijian Islands each year.
Daydreams of hammock swaying, reef exploring, and waterfall hiking fills your mind as the departure day draws near. Embrace the siren song that calls to your wanderlust laden soul with a stay at the Royal Davui Resort.
For many, planning a luxury holiday in the Fijian Islands has a few “must haves” – private plunge pool, incredible sunset views from a private terrace, intimate, romantic, (kid-free) resort, gourmet meals. Check, check, check and check. Look forward to an incredibly relaxed set of lazy days, attaining a great tan that will make your winter coat wearing neighbors envious. You will also want to brush up on the biology of the hermit crab.
As soon as you land, you will feel the warm, slightly humid tropical air wafting in through the aircraft cabin door. Once you land, you will travel via a small Cessna across the largest of the Fijian Islands Vita Levu, to Port Hamilton, and finally arrive to Royal Davui Resort by comfortable motor boat launch. The welcome here is as impressionable as one would imagine, with a warm Fijian smile, loud and enthusiastic “Bula’s” offered with every passing face, and a traditional welcome song filling the warm tropical air.
Explore Royal Davui a small island just off the coast of Beqa. Totaling five acres, one can easily walk around the entire island in about an hour. The beach is full of hundreds of unbroken, nearly perfect seashells. If you reach down to pick one up for closer inspection you will be surprised to find a tiny little crab pincer leg popping out. Focus in more closely and you will begin to realize the entire beach is alive – literally vibrating with hundreds of small hermit crabs strolling about, digging tiny holes in the sand, and dashing across the rocks.
These tiny little crabs are the perfect little representations of the happy, gleeful life the Fijian people appear to embrace. And the faster the crab is the better. He can be a crab racing champion.
Partnerships were made to unseat last night’s champion, secret trades negotiated over lunch, hours spent searching the shores for the fastest crab and every creative effort gone into selecting the perfect name. Crab racing is a delightfully fun, yet nail biting event. It’s a common pastime of Fijian children and adults alike and best of all causes no undue harm to the little crabs.
As you go about your day, you will keep an ever-watchful eye for a speedy little crab. Those with smaller shells but larger pincer claws tended to be the fastest. As evening approached, resort guests would all gather in an outdoor bar area, some carrying with them in cups or leaves a “champion” to represent their villa. A large circle would be drawn, in chalk, on the floor, with a smaller circle drawn in the exact center of the larger one. A total of six races commenced each night – three qualifying rounds and three final rounds, resulting in three champions each night. There were three chances for your Villa to claim the “Crab Champion” trophy (and the free drink coupons that accompanied the title) for the following day. Rules are strict. Once the race starts no one is allowed to move around. No waving hands, no stomping feet or flashing lights – but do yell as loud and enthusiastically as you can.
All the crabs are placed in a small cup, set in the center circle and on a count of three the cup is raised and the crabs are off. Winning is simple – the first crab to cross the line of the larger, outer circle is declared the winner! The hilarity in it all is that it is nearly impossible to know which crab is your own, while they are racing. Imagine a group of well tanned, relaxed adults who’ve stopped “adulting” for the week, enthusiastically screaming all manner of clever names inspired by favorite football players, race horses and super heroes. The rhythmic chant of Go! Go !Go! And it is not until the ‘race manager’ takes a close look and announces the winner that anyone can truly celebrate victory or wallow in defeat. In true sportsmanlike fashion, allegations of cheating and fixing are thrown around in jest and the winner generally buys a round for the losers. This lively game is then repeated five more times!
Pro Tip: When you find yourself preparing for a Fijian adventure, don’t forget to pack the noisemakers and race flags to accessorize your nightly attire because crab racing is seriously fun business in this tiny corner of the world!!