Valentine and Gaston picked us up at 9:00 am one day to go Varo and Coconut Crab hunting. A varo is large, 2-foot long, whitish shrimp or lobster-like critter that lives in a hole in the sand and catch fish that swim by. Their claws are so sharp, they can cut a fish in half. Two varo, a male and a female, live in each hole. They only take the male varo, leaving the female to reproduce. Toau is the only place in the world with varo, and they are the only people living there, so hopefully the varo will survive.
We went about 5 miles into the lagoon to a large shallow sandy area about 3 feet deep. Gaston moved the boat around with his pole, looking for the "right" holes. After a while with no luck, Gaston and Tony started walking around looking for the varo holes. Sharks were hanging around sporadically, interested in the activity. Finally, Gaston found a varo hole. To catch the varo, Gaston had a stick wrapped with fish bait. He twirled the bait stick over the hole until the varo got its claws on it. He then carefully grabbed the claws and pulled it out. Wha lah! We ended up with a catch of 2 varo. (See Video of How to Catch a Varo)
Then Gaston took Tony ashore to the motu to hunt coconut crabs. Coconut crabs are very large, brown and blue crabs that live under the roots of a fallen coconut tree. After about a half hour, they came back with 2 coconut crabs. Enough for a feast!
And, what a feast we had! Gaston boiled the crab in half fresh water and half salt water. He sautéed the varo in onion and garlic. The crab was the tastiest crab we'd ever eaten. The varo was like the most tender, sweetest lobster we'd ever eaten. It was superb! (See Photos)
Afterwards, we played with their 3-week old puppies and explored the motu a little. Before leaving, I asked Valentine if she needed any supplies (the supply boat doesn't stop there). She said she had run out of dish soap, laundry soap, toothpaste and toilet paper. I was delighted to help her with all these as we had plenty.
I could have stayed in Anse Amyot for weeks, but alas, there are just so many islands and so little time. So, after 5 wonderful days there, we had a good weather window and left the Tuamotus to sail back to Tahiti. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Tuamotus, DO IT! It is by far the best snorkeling! I can't imagine it can get any better than this!
More Later - G&T