* Editor’s Note: Before trying this exercise, we suggest you be in the best physical shape possible, be of Polynesian descent and if necessary, have a physical check-up (just kidding, well maybe not because this skill is dangerous!).
Recently my wife called a Samoan young man to come over to my home to cut the coconuts off our two tall trees fronting our yard.
Hanging coconuts can get dangerous, especially on windy days when the coconut falls and nearly misses the kids. We decided to be proactive and have them removed. Watching this young man climb up our tall coconut tree reminded me of the first time I saw the coconut tree climbing demonstration at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The Samoan Village workers did a fantastic job not only showing how to climb, but how to have fun at the same time.
If you are one of those daring and adventurous tree climbers, here are step by step instructions on how to climb a coconut tree:
Securely tie a piece of strong cloth and loop it around your ankles. When complete, flatten the strip against the coconut palm, with both feet on opposite sides of the tree trunk. Now, with the base of your feet grip the sides of the tree, the cloth will press against the tree as well. This helps keep your feet stable, and gives you more leverage to push yourself up the tree. Climbing can hurt if you’re not used to going barefoot, but your skin will toughen up with practice.
Grip the tree between your hands. Your arms must be strong enough to hold your weight, so you are leaning into the tree instead of dangling away from it. Your hands need to be opposite of each other, so you can squeeze the trunk.
Place your feet against the sides of the tree. Hop onto the base of the tree, gripping it with your legs. Turn your feet inward, so the undersides of your feet press against the left and right sides of the trunk. Your legs will be bent and splayed outward, like a frog’s.
Push yourself up with your feet. Extend your legs without moving your feet or hands. This will bring you up straight, a little higher than before. Bring your feet up. Quickly bring both feet up at the same time, gripping a spot higher up the tree. To keep yourself stable, press hard with both hands. If your arms are strong, you can lift your feet completely off the trunk and position them again at a higher point. Otherwise, slide your feet up the side of the trunk, or push them up one at a time in small steps. This requires less muscle, but can be painful on soft feet.
Keep your feet on opposite sides of the tree, so the loop doesn’t fall off your feet. Now you’re back in your starting position. Extend your legs to lift yourself higher and REPEAT.
Once you’re up to the top, you can pick the coconut by twisting the stem of the coconut repeatedly until it breaks. But if you’re like my coconut tree cutter, chop of the coconuts with a machete. It’s so much easier and faster.
Now you would think I could do this myself instead of paying someone to do it each time. It’s easier said than done. Bottom line, I’m afraid of heights.
Good luck and happy coconut picking!
PCC blogger, Bobby Akoi. Originally from Keaukaha on the Big Island of Hawai’I, his path took an unexpected turn to the little town of La’ie as student at Church College of Hawai’i. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he’d be working at the #1 paid tourist attraction in the State of Hawaii. Today he is the Director of Protocol & Community Relations for the Polynesian Cultural Center. He is married to Hiromi and has 4 children.