How to climb a coconut tree
Knowing how to climb a coconut tree can ensure that you get your hands on the fresh, sweet milk of the more juvenile coconuts that have yet to develop the awkward shell under the husk. The young coconuts tend to have much more milk in them which is comparatively easier to get at providing you are able to pluck them from the top of the tree. Use this ‘how to’ ask your own risk.
1- Wear full length closing. Coconut bark is incredibly scratchy and will break your skin as you climb. Although you may be temporarily overheating, it’s best to cover your thighs and forearms with thick strong clothing such as heavy jeans and a cotton shirt. Carry a flick knife, pen knife, or my favourite, a Leatherman, as well as a shoulder bag in which to put the coconuts.
2- Pick a good tree. Counter intuitively, vertical trees are actually easier to climb than horizontal ones as they allow for better distribution of weight. Because you’re looking for a more vertical tree, pick safely by trying to find one that isn’t quite as tall.
3- The foot position. You will effectively be walking up the tree, taking tiny little steps. You’ll want to provide as much surface area on your feet as possible (bare feet is best but it is a little scratchy!), so turn your feet outwards so that the curve of your insteps wrap around the curve of the trunk. This may be tough on the knees for some people, so you may have to just turn one ‘stronger’ foot outwards and use the ball of your other foot. You will be pushing off of and up the tree.
4- The hand position. Keep your wrists strong and wrap your hands around the trunk. Do not interlock fingers as each hand will be acting independently. Your hands should be pulling you towards the trunk with your forearms squeezed against the bark for stability.
5- Walk with all four limbs. Your left foot and right hand will move in unison (as will you right foot and left hand). Your feet will be pushing away and upwards, whilst your hands and forearms will be pulling inwards to keep you locked to the tree. Your torso should be as far from the trunk as possible as having the top half of your body too close to the tree will reduce your feet’s purchase and grip.
6- Slowly creep up the tree, ensuring that you each footing is strong. Look upwards before each movement in order to scope for ants. Should you spot some of the angry little fellas, don’t take the risk of being ravaged by an army whilst precariously balanced 20 feet off of the ground; climb down and pick a different tree.
7- Climb as high up towards the palms as possible and then pull your torso into trunk and hug it, before pulling your lower half in to grip the tree with your thighs. Your thighs should be strong enough to keep you up without using your hands, but I try and work with one arms still wrapped around the trunk for safety should something give.
8- Cut a couple of coconuts loose. Remove your knife and remove a couple of coconuts. Should you only have one hand free, you can twist the coconut in one direction until the stem breaks. Only try and take 2 coconuts, 3 max, as you will have to carry them down in your shoulder back with you (dropping the coconuts, even into water, will most likely crack them open, leaving you with empty coconuts by the time that you’ve climbed back down).
9- Climb back down. Re-engage your feet before re-engaging your forearms and hands, and then use the exact same walking motion to get you down the tree. Should you be tiring, you can grip the tree with your thighs again and very carefully slide down (this will scratch and possibly tear your clothing and skin).
10- See ‘how to open a coconut’.
A spotter is always helpful for both safety and to find the most accessible coconuts.
Take your time, don’t rush.
Empty the milk of the coconut into a litre bottle so that you can keep it sealed and return back to it when thirsty.
Juvenile coconut milk is THE best hangover cure! Be sure to grab a couple the night before should you suspect that you be hungover the next morning rather than trying to climb half cut.