Maui’s good doctor coconut

8 September 08

| Nuts to Us |

Coconut meets machete

On Maui’s fabled road to Hāna, not far east of Pā‘iā town, there’s a roadside bamboo hut with the sign that reads HUELO LOOKOUT. Not only will you find fresh organic tropical fruit here ready to eat—whatever’s in season, be it mango, rambutan, lychee, papaya, and more—but there’s no better spot to sample cooling, healthful coconut water and soft young coconut meat right out of the shell. If you’re really lucky, the guy with the machete who deftly cracks the nut for you will be the fruit stand’s owner, Phillipe Visintainer, a Frenchman by birth who’s made it his mission to save Hawai‘i’s coconut palms from a deadly fungus that produces coconut heart rot. After the state told him it didn’t have the resources to fight the spreading infection, Visintainer used research begun by the University of Hawai‘i to create an inoculation that gives healthy coconut trees a 98% chance of avoiding the disease. Mahalo and merci!

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