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You might be wondering what on earth crab racing is. Well, it’s a popular game played in the tropical San Pedro in Belize and it’s a bit of a sensation. Not quite as well-known as the world-famous chicken drop bingo game that also takes place here.
It’s an enjoyable sport (if you can call it that) that takes place once a week and has become a staple activity to visitors’ itineraries.
You get to see a traditional island game in a beach bar surrounded by other tourists and a handful of locals. It’s certainly something worth experiencing at least one time. And who knows, you might find the racing a thrilling night out if the crab you bet on ends up being the fastest It really is anyone’s game!
If you’re planning to spend some time in Belize and San Pedro is on your radar, you should definitely consider getting involved.
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What is Crab Racing?
Crab racing is an enjoyable sport consisting of live hermit crabs and a colourful obstacle course for them to “run” through.
The aim of the game is for the hermit crab you choose to “win” against the other crabs by getting out of the arena quicker than any others. They all start in the middle of the arena in a metal bucket.
The bucket is then gently turned upside down so the crabs are released. It is then a matter of time to see how quickly the crabs will complete the course by going over, around or through the obstacles in their way to reach the thick rope around the outside.
Some obstacles include small water bottles, coloured ropes, a snorkelling mask, a large conch shell, a stuffed crab plush toy and a rolled-up yoga mat. Each of these items is spread out around the arena the try and get in the way of these little critters. Some of them get stopped along the way, unsure how to get past them, and others just start climbing over without hesitation. It’s always fun to see which crab takes the crown.
Rules of Crab Racing
The rules of the game are simple. Each crab can only be bet on one time per game, and people cannot interfere with the race.
Once the bucket has been lifted and the crabs are released, they can walk in any direction. All they need to do is climb over the rope that goes around the edge of the arena – before any other crab. Humans cannot touch the crabs during the race and cannot move the obstacles out of their way. That’s pretty much it, it’s a very simple game.
One crab wins each game.
The person who bets on the winning crab gets half of the bet pot. The other half goes to charity, so you’re helping those in need too. Plus, the winning crab gets automatically placed into the final race of the night which gives you a second chance to win without paying for an additional bet!
How to Place Your Bets on Crab Racing?
Throughout the evening there are multiple crab racing events that take place which means you have multiple opportunities to win half the pot.
About 10 minutes before each crab race begins, the host on the microphone will announce that the betting is now open. They have a group of hermit crabs with numbers painted onto their shells (some even have names!) in a plastic box.
Each person that wants to bet on the game, must choose a crab’s number to bet on and that will be their racer. Individual bets are $5BZD each/per crab. Plus, for each crab you bet on, you get to give it an interesting name.
I’m sure you can imagine how creative some people get with these names. Puns and many euphemisms. This does add a touch of comedy to the event though as the emcee will be reading off the names and explaining what is happening throughout each race.
Each crab can only be bet on once per game. To make sure people don’t bet on the same one, each crab that is selected will be removed from the main box and placed into a smaller bucket. Once all of the crabs have been chosen, the game will begin.
Where Can You Join In?
Location: Nauti Crab Belize, Boca del Rio Drive, San Pedro, Belize
The crab racing events take place every Tuesday from 5 pm at the Nauti Crab. It is a harbour-front property that serves food, drinks and evening entertainment.
As well as hosting weekly crab racing, they also hold other events such as karaoke and bingo nights!
Please be aware that the crab races may not be the most suitable for children as there is a lot of X-rated conversation from the emcee and the customers who give the crabs names not appropriate for children’s ears. Bring your kids at your own risk.