Ask the Big Kahuna
“Answering the most common visitor questions”
My sister and I just came back from Hawaii, and there were tons of fallen but good coconuts. We spent an hour stripping the husk off one (we had no tools) and found a rock to break the coconut open. The milk and the coconut were both delicious, but it sure took a long time. Is there a quicker way for doing it next time?
Mahalo nui loa [thank you very much],
Till the stars,
Debbie from Dallas
Aloha Debbie (and sister),
Mahalo for sending your question to the Big Kahuna at BestPlacesHawaii.com.
Two methods seem to dominate the art of coconut opening (though we’ve heard of some strange variations): a stake or a machete.
For the first method, a stake (usually metal) is driven into the ground with the point up. Sometimes a pickaxe is used, the pointy end up. The coconut is held in both hands and jammed onto the stake then twisted to separate and eventually remove the husk. THIS CAN BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND IS NOT RECOMMENDED. If you strike the stake off center or too aggressively, it slides up the coconut and into a hand or arm.
The second method is to use a machete (BE VERY CAREFUL AGAIN – SHARP INSTRUMENT!) to chop down one end of the husk – much like you’d sharpen a pencil with a knife. You don’t have to remove the entire husk with this method, just enough to bare the end of the nut inside. One or two chops at the revealed nut should open it.
The best technique, and clearly the safest, is to get help from someone local who is experienced in one of the above methods. This solution can be a great conversation starter as well. “Aloha. Can you help me open this coconut?”
Here is an extra tip about finding fresh coconuts in the first place. Coconuts go bad (the meat gets hard or even moldy) when there are cracks in the outer shell. Even tiny, hard-to-see cracks can spoil freshness. One way to check for freshness (it isn’t foolproof, however) is to shake the coconut. If you hear sloshing inside, your chances for a fresh one are very good.