Coconuts in Hawaii: 4 Fun Things to Know

coconuts in hawaii
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Coconuts in Hawaii: 4 Fun Things to Know

Hoping to see coconuts in Hawaii? Lucky for you, they are everywhere! Washing up on remote or busy beaches, floating in the ocean, or falling on city streets. But there’s more to these tropical delights than meets the eye. 

Ahead are four things I’ve learned about coconuts since moving to the Islands. There are many more (this is a VERY versatile little plant), but this is a good place for us to start!

Our Favorite Coconut Facts

1. Hawaii Coconuts Grow in Clusters

In Hawaii, coconuts grow in clusters. Before seeing them in person, I knew they grew on palm trees (unlike pineapple, which are ground plants). But somehow, I always imagined a palm tree with two coconuts. There is probably a cartoon from my childhood responsible for that image.

No, coconuts grow in clusters like enormous green grapes. It’s pretty unnerving when you look way up to see them snuggling beneath the large palm leaves. Fortunately, the green ones hang on and only fall when they turn brown.

2. They Look Different From What You See in Stores

Coconut Tree

The little brown, hairy “nut” that is found in supermarkets is not what you see growing in a palm tree. This fuzzy part is what’s inside Hawaii coconuts. The outside has a much larger shell-like husk.

That’s one reason the coconuts look so huge in the tree and when they fall on the ground. You have to remove the outer part to get to the inside “nut.” The outside husk is smooth, which is why you can easily decorate it into souvenirs or even mail it.

3. Coconut Trees in Hawaii Have Flowers

Did you know palm trees have flowers? They don’t look like other flowers that have petals, but they are fun to watch grow. 

First, a sort of banana-shaped pod grows on either side of the tree. Then it splits, creating stems with little buds pushing out. Those buds grow into larger balls and turn colors. 

Some time during that process, many of the flowers are cut off of palm trees by landscapers. The ones that survive to grow larger are often in areas that are unattended. It’s neat to see coconuts growing in the wild in Hawaii!

Apparently, there are male and female flowers; I’m going to have to watch a lot more closely to figure that out.

4. Coconut Milk Vs. Coconut Water

Coconut milk is not the same as coconut water. You’ll probably find coconut milk in a can in grocery stores. Sometimes you can find it in cartons in the milk aisle or as ice cream. It is used in Thai soups and curries, as well as other recipes. But this is not the liquid that you find when you poke a hole in a coconut. That’s coconut water. 

Coconut milk is pressed from the white meat of fresh coconuts. In Hawaii and beyond, coconut water has become popular recently as a beverage that some consider a health drink or substitute for sports drinks.

If you’re at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet or see a roadside stand, you may find coconuts that are freshly opened and served with a straw. This will be coconut water, and it’s so refreshing on a hot Hawaii day. Make sure to get ones that are ice-cold!

Tasting Coconut in Hawaii

As with all foods in the Islands, coconuts in Hawaii taste completely different from the mainland. My memory of coconut was the hair-like shreds with a cardboard texture. Don’t let past experiences stop you from tasting coconut in Hawaii, whether in haupia desserts, umbrella drinks or fresh from a roadside stand. It’s a true taste of the Islands!