Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Coconuts

(Update 5/8/16: This post is being updated w/ different photos. Under construction.)

What would Hawaii be without coconuts and the allure of coconut fantasies? I’m talking about coconut bras and grass skirts, clich├ęs which everyone associates with Hawaii, but which no one here wears outside of a hula show or costume party. The coconut is an icon of Hawaii, plus for some residents, a food staple. 

Coconut fantasy #1: The coconut bra. (Reality, probably uncomfortable to wear, and probably falls off a lot, which might be good in certain situations. ;)

Coconut fantasy 2: Drinking out of a fresh coconut on the beach, while
being lulled by coconut fronds swaying in the wind. Yum!

Coconut fantasy 3: A white sandy beach with coconut trees, which has inspired the famous song. 

Coconut fantasy 4: The grass skirt and "the little grass shack"

These are iconic images of Hawaii, and the basis of another classic song. 

Coconut reality check #1: You can buy coconut bras at the ABC store, a souvenir chain store, but I dare you to wear them in public without a stiff drink, or to wear them on your blog!

Photo courtesy of writer Mark Koopmans from Oahu, who lost a bet and had to wear a coconut bra and grass skirt. Mahalo for the pic!

Coconut reality check #2: It's illegal to buy coconut drinks ON the beach, since buying and selling ON beaches in Hawaii, is illegal. 

But, you can buy a fresh coconut NEAR a beach and drink out of it with a straw. This includes hotels (practically on the beach anyhow) and roadside stands. If you’re at a place like Maui Tropical Plantation or at a lu'au, you can even watch someone shimmy up a coconut tree, pick a coconut and crack it in front of your eyes. And, you can buy a drinking coconut at the Maui Swap Meet or several farmers markets. 

Coconut and pineapple stand on the way to the beaches of Makena. 

Coconut reality check #3: Not all Hawaii beaches have palm trees! Also, some fantastic beaches in the Caribbean, Mexico, etc. also have palm trees. Hawaii does not have a monopoly on coconut trees, although we'd like to! 

By the way, opening a coconut is a LOT harder than it looks. If it's a young coconut, it's easier, but mature coconuts are TOUGH. Those folks at lu'aus or road side stands make opening coconuts look so darn easy. 

Coconut reality check #4: Nope, no one wears grass skirts except hula dancers and tourists. No one lives in grass shacks anymore. It's becoming a lost art, the making of a grass shack with a thatched roof. But I did meet someone who had a local craftsman make a thatched coconut roof for her roadside stand and she says it's held up amazingly well to the weather. So if they are made properly and maintained, they can last for years.

So much to say about coconuts! 

There is coconut candy and coconut oil for sun-tanning. And firm coconut pudding called ha’upia, which is often served at luaus or Hawaiian restaurants.  The Upcountry Farmers Market even sells coconut kefir, a cultured healthy drink made with coconut water.

I won’t go into ALL the details of coconuts, but they are definitely a part of life on Maui. I never ate a lot of coconuts when I lived on Oahu, but if you hang out on Maui long enough, you’ll probably learn how to break open coconuts and make them a part of your diet. 

P.S. If you are blog hopping from the A to Z challenge, please include your link if you comment!


  1. What fun! Congrats on C for Coconuts! I live in Malaysia and have a fresh young coconut just about every afternoon, though we don't live near the beach. I share your passion for them and got a nice chuckle out of some of your photos. Well done! My "C"? Not so much fun as yours...but, hey...

  2. What a cool way to do the letter C. I know there are some palms in South Carolina too.

  3. I once bought a coconut, thinking it would be fun to to drink from it - needless to say, I ended up having to use a hammer and made a right old mess of the kitchen floor! :-/

    Great post!


    Story Ideas

  4. I think I would need larger coconuts ...

    Popped by from the AtoZ Challenge.

  5. LOL! I have definitely made my share of coconut messes. I'd be afraid to do it on the kitchen floor - could crack the floor instead!

  6. Yes, you have those great palmettos in SC.

  7. Coconut bras don't offer a lot of support!

  8. Yum! I would have drink more young coconuts if we grew them here. Though they are easy to buy.

  9. Funny post Courtney and the photos are great. A nice piece about the fantasy and reality behind the delicious, versatile coconut.

  10. Loving your blog Courtney! x

  11. Thanks Barbara! Just stopped by yours!

  12. Aloha, fellow hawai'i resident and #AtoZchallenge participant! Nice to see we aren't left out! I'm on the Big Island and my blog is (I'm not blogging about Hawai'i though). Nice myths and realities piece!

  13. Great, another Hawaii blogger! The only one I'm aware of on the Big Island is Saturdays w/ Maggy. I will go and check it out!

  14. Mahalo! I think I just found your blog - curious, cool, and captivating?

  15. Brilliantly fun post! The coconut bra made me smile ;) looks incredibly uncomfortable!


    Curling Stones for Lego People

  16. I bought a coconut for my kids. Had to bust it open with a sledge hammer and the juice inside was awful. The kids were sure it was spoiled. It sure wasn't anything like Gilligan's Island!

    Hi to my cyber brother Mark, the sexy guy in the coconut bra ;)

  17. Oh no! Had that happen once, used a machete. It was too old! The trick is to shake it, supposedly if it doesn't make noise, then it's full of water (coconut water) and is good, but if it does slosh around, it means some water inside has evaporated or ...? and it's an older coconut. That's what someone told me at the market here. Mark's a good sport!

  18. I will remember that. It has very little water in it, so it was evidently very old.
    And I always forget when I am not on blogger that my profile is limited. I do have a blog and I am on twitter (though not as often as I should be)
    blog is

  19. Awesome Elizabeth, thanks for letting me know and finding me on twitter!


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