Coconut water is all the rage in the beverage world these days. As trendy as it has become, Polynesians have known the benefits of coconut water for millennia. Just to clear something up, coconut water is what you get when you open up a fresh, green coconut. Coconut milk comes from grating the meat from a mature coconut, steeping it in hot water, then straining it into your piña colada (that last bit is optional). Coconut water is best when chilled and straight from the coconut. You can find roadside stands around all the islands selling fresh coconuts where they will hack off the top and give it to you with a straw. Fresh coconut water is a great, all natural thirst quencher and can go a long way in curing those hangovers people tend to get on vacation. Prices can vary wildly depending on where you are. The more tourist traffic around, the higher the price. A great deal is around $3-$4, while anyone charging more than $9 for an un-chilled coconut should be charged with highway robbery.
Surprising to most people is that coconut palms do not occur in Hawai‘i naturally. Even though a coconut is a natural voyager, being able to float at sea for four months and still sprout, they never established themselves here on their own. Blame it on the isolation and ocean currents. Fortunately, Ancient Polynesians brought coconuts with them on their treks across the Pacific along with other crops like bananas and taro, planting them once they reached their destination. Besides a food/beverage source, coconut palms have a wide range of uses for both traditional/ancient crafts and modern products. That, however, is a topic for another day.