You could save the coconut water (milk) and make less mess by drilling a hole and draining it. Its more work, but a decent knife or screwdriver should do the job. Best to drill out the dark eyes of the coconut. For some, this may not be worth the effort. After that, then break it. Ive heard an ice cream scooper works good for getting the meat out.
In the wild Ive opened them with nothing but my bare hands and a rock. Without tools this is not an envious task.
why such a mess? Hold the coconut in one hand and knock with something (stone, back of a knife, hammer, crowbar, 2 by 4, whatever you find in your backpack :-) ) around the equator of the nut. It will crack open in two perfect half.
And inside is coconutwater. In coconutcountry you only drink the water from green nuts who have not jet meat inside. Coconutmilk is a mixture of the grinded white meat inside and water.
Why dont you buy a green coconut? They taste so much better and are easier to open and the juice is fresh.
I do not NOT want two nice halves of a coconut, because It is very difficult to get the meat of the coconut removed from the shell. It works a lot better if you have 10 fragments, then when the coconut dries about 4-10 hours is slowly will allow me to use a knife to pry out the pieces and eat them.
Note, never eat the whole coconut or you will be in the toilet the next day.
Pay they extra 5 baht ya cheap Farang and they will open it for you with cool refreshing milk intact.
Sorry Andy, only tried to help. So I guess you know that trick allready. Maybe I also talk too much.
Karl, your method is great.
Im not mean really... but wish you hadnt shared this... its so much fun watching Westerners spend hours trying to open a coconut!!
Hey, I was one of those westerners. It was a wet and windy day in the Maldives. Cant even remember if we got it open:)
If you tie up the open side of the plastic bag after you smash it and then poke a hole in one of the corners, you can squeeze the milk into a cup and still drink it.