Christmas Island’s

Red Crab Migration

The Red Crab Island

Famed as one of David Attenborough’s must-see phenomenons, the red crab migration on Christmas Island is a true sight to behold!

Every year tens of millions of red crabs emerge from the tropical jungle across the island and make the extraordinary journey to the coast. Red crabs are land crabs, so they can’t swim, but unfortunately for them, they still have to release their eggs into the sea. All around Christmas Island, the crabs descend upon the beaches and cliffs in their millions – it’s an amazing once in a lifetime spectacle!

Once at the coast, the crabs mate, develop their eggs in burrows and then early on one special morning, they all gather together and cast billions of tiny eggs into the warm Indian Ocean. The sheer number of eggs turn the sea black!

The annual red crab migration and spawning dates are difficult to predict, and only happen once a year during the wet season usually in November – December. 

Spawning morning during red crab migration Christmas Island

Visiting During Red Crab Migration

The red crab migration can fall anytime between October and January and can last for up to 6 weeks depending on rainfall.

Whilst the migration is incredible, Christmas Island is full of red crabs, every day of every year!
You certainly won’t miss out seeing them on your visit, no matter when you come, so don’t feel that you have to come during crab migration just to see our famous red crabs.

If you’re hoping to see the red crab migration keep in mind there are some potential drawbacks which may affect your stay.
Visit our Christmas Island Seasons page to see what it’s like at different times of the year to ensure you’re coming at the best time for you.

Road Closures

If you are visiting during the red crab migration, many of the roads around the island will be closed to allow the crabs safe passage.
This can include the roads to some of our typical daily-guided activity destinations including Dolly Beach, the Blowholes, Lilly & Ethel, the Grotto, Hughes Dale, and Margaret Knoll Lookout. Depending on where the roads are closed and your fitness, some destinations may still be accessible or involve a walk, or be closed entirely.

We cannot guarantee that you’ll be able to see and do the usually planned activities during the red crab migration on Christmas Island.

Red Crab on Christmas Island
Red crabs on Christmas Island on road with jungle behind. Swell Lodge eco-lodge Chris Bray Photography

The Crab Mobile

Swell Lodge is located inside the national park and is one of the best spots on the island for experiencing the red crab migration! Our ecolodge is also close to Merrial Beach, one of the best places to see the spawning!  

When visiting during the red crab migration we have to take care to not hurt our island’s beautiful crabs. We have divised a way to move about the island with our special crab-safe vehicle attachment. The crab mobile attachments were custom built and gently bump the crabs aside away from the wheels as our vehicles pass through the red carpet. It’s amazing (and world-famous!) but it is slow, sometimes adding as much 30-45min to the journey to/from the lodge if the crabs are thick. 

Some days out and about on the island will require som extra patience.

Sometimes mid-migration, there may be days when the crabs stop moving and roads open again for a short period of time, allowing us to return to more regular-timed activities.

On the up-side, the benefit of having the crabs migrate during your stay is that you’ll get to walk along jungle tracks carpeted in a sea of red crabs and experience the absolute magic of mother nature at every turn!

Crab migration is still one of our busiest and best times of year on Christmas Island, and most guests absolutely love it, but it really is better suited to fitter guests who don’t mind a bit of adventure, because anything could happen. “Hop out and rake those crabs off the road, would you? Thanks!

You can check possible red crab spawning dates here. 


Ready to see the Red Crab Migration?

Our red crabs are popular and we book out fast at this time of year. Check Swell Lodge rates and availability here.

Baby Red Crabs

The crab eggs hatch as soon as they are cast into the sea, then they are at the mercy of the ocean currents. After about 3-4 weeks they start to transform from free-swimming megalopes into tiny translucent crab larvae which need land to survive.

If they’re lucky, the currents will miraculously bring them back to the Christmas Island shore. Then suddenly one morning the island awakes to discover billions of these adorable little blue-eyed crabs washing up onto our beaches! These baby crabs cover the rockpools in a living red carpet that slowly flows up into the jungle.

Just like the adult crab migration, allowing the safe passage of millions of tiny baby crabs can cause logistical challenges, specifically for access around the island However, the disruption is usually briefer, lasting only a few days.

Red crab migration being photographed during migration on Christmas Island beach near Swell Lodge

Amazing red crab sightings await!

We certainly don’t mean to deter you at all from booking Swell Lodge to see the red crab migration! It really is an incredible sight to see and our guests have been blown away by it every time. We just want to make sure you have realistic expectations about your stay at Swell Lodge during this time. Either way, you’ll still have an amazing time on Christmas Island!
Christmas Island Map where is Christmas island swell lodge luxury eco-lodge

Where is Swell Lodge?

We are located on the Western side of Christmas Island. The airport and main township is on the Eastern side. For more information about our eco-lodge please contact us.

See our Frequently Asked Questions or visit our Bookings page to see rates and availability. 

Discover Christmas Island red crabs today!

Yes! We Have Vacancy!

Visiting in the wet season or the dry season, it’s not just about red crabs. Treat yourself to the full Swell Lodge experience today.