What is the best machete for opening coconuts?
Updated: Jan 10
A common question and a natural starting point for anyone wanting to process coconuts at home. Ask a hundred coconut choppers around the globe and likely you’ll get a hundred different answers. Everyone has their excalibur, or at least they used to. Sadly most households in Hawaii today don't open many coconuts and the machete has been pushed to the back of the garage. Rarely used, most are clunky, dull and in our opinion poorly balanced. Too heavy and a machete will wear ur body down, too thin it bends or gets stuck in the coconut. And while even the oldest, rustiest machete will allow you to open a coconut, over time using such a blade will damage your wrists, elbows and hands. More swings opening each coconut = more risk to your body. If you are going to be opening lots of coconuts, you want a great machete.
At our farm safety and efficiency prioritize the decision making process. Opening hundreds of coconuts a month for a decade will do that to you. The ideal machete should be sharp, keep its edge, never rust and grip ergonomically into your hand. Ideally it never gets stuck in a coconut, is light and feels like a natural extension of your own arm. Having a sense of where the blade is in space will give you the confidence to swing firmly and accurately.
Our favorite - the "Kukuri" by Ka-Bar -here is the link to order one.
We tried dozens of machetes over the years. Collecting and testing ones from Fiji, Bali, Mexico and Hawaii. Some were sold as cane knifes, others resembled battle axes or pirate swords. One shape and brand in particular stood out and became the go-to blade at our farm.
The story of how the blade came to us is worth telling, as the man who introduced us is as exceptional as the machete. Shout out to Yukon creator of the Human Nature Hostel. Yukon an ex-marine and military wilderness survival school graduate was vacationing on Maui for a few weeks. He wasn't supposed to talk about it but he had just finished filming a tv show called Naked and Afraid, where he was dropped in the Florida everglades with literally nothing but his machete. He had instructions from the producers to lay low and stay out of the public eye until it aired. A mutual friend suggested we take him out coconut harvesting, convincing us that he was a hard worker.
He brought with him an upbeat attitude and the ultimate coconut opening machine. Skeptical at first of any new blade (we’d tried so many already) one swing and instantly - we knew it was perfect. Smoother, cleaner cuts through the husk and shell meant less chopping. The weekly task of processing coconuts immediately got faster, easier and safer.
The shape of the blade creates an incredibly balanced, easy to handle weight distribution. That is no accident, the kukuri was developed and perfected by farmers of the sub Indian continent as a tool specifically for chopping. Someone must have realized it worked great for chopping people too because soon the armies of Britain, India & Nepal made it standard issue. During World War I & II soldiers on both sides used it and as Yukon explained to me - it remains the standard issue blade for marines deployed where they may require such tool.
Thousands of knife makers produce Kukuri’s. The term describes the shape, not the maker itself. The company which made Yukon’s was KA-BAR. I ordered one that night. The term “military grade” gets thrown around quite a bit, but this felt real. Within a few months many of my fellow coconut climbing friends were using them too. After 6 years of using it i can tell you first hand that it holds its edge very, very well. We currently have 3 in rotation on our farm. We suggest you order one.
Note - We have no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with them, we write this simply because it works incredibly well for us and we hope that it will increase your household’s coconut intake and thus make u want to plant a coconut tree at your home. Thank you for reading, much love from our farm!