On the north east coast of Australia, where the translucent Coral Sea meets dense forest, and where foliage-covered mountains loom in the background, there’s a tour that will take you deep into the world of the humble coconut.
However, unlike other tours, the ‘Coconut Odyssey’, located at Thala Beach Lodge near Port Douglas, is the only one of its kind in Australia. Furthermore, it’s led by passionate coconut advocate Carl Johanson, who was once listed as one of Australia’s most eccentric tour guides.
This nutty crusader attests to numerous coconut related benefits, from preventing cancer to banishing cellulite. In fact, Carl’s testament is so convincing, he will likely have you stocking up on coconuts by the end of the tour.
The Coconut Odyssey is held in Thala’s native coconut plantation, runs for two hours, and involves Carl discussing just about every coconut topic you could think of. From its history and usage worldwide, to dispelling common myths that have suppressed what Carl calls a “miracle food”, no coconut is left unturned.
When asked what attracted him to the world of the coconut, Carl says “I got hooked when I learnt that coconut does not make fat, but helps to burn it, and as a result it’s given me a nice six pack”.
Carl says without a doubt the coconut is “the best quality food left on the planet”. He says the coconut fruit, which is not a true nut, grows so high that no pests can affect it, and therefore no pesticides are required. Furthermore, they grow in the sand, need no fertilizer, and don’t need to be genetically modified.
On tour, Carl discusses the alleged myth that saturated fats such as coconut oil are bad for you. He also points out that people who’ve been eating coconuts for thousands of years worldwide have had comparatively few health problems.
Carl’s personal health regime involves plenty of coconut oil every day, and he will eat a coconut instead of going for a run, as it increases his metabolism. Such fervent coconut devotion has steadily built Carl’s reputation as an eccentric tour guide and resident coco-nut.
There’s no denying Carl has plenty of energy when you talk to him. With the feeling he’s about to leap out of his skin with excitement, Carl says he feels extremely lucky to share his coconut knowledge with visitors to Thala, where both himself and guests are treated to an “unlimited supply of green coconuts”.
As Carl will gladly tell you, the liquid in green coconuts is the most sterile liquid in nature, and has been proven to have the same electrolyte balance as blood in our veins. This, he says, is why during the First and Second World Wars, green coconut juice was fed intravenously to patients when glucose and plasma supplies were low.
While the Coconut Odyssey is literally one of a kind experience, thanks to Carl, its location at Thala Beach Lodge makes for a truly unique excursion. When guests have finished the tour they can rummage amongst the coconut plantation with a new found respect for the ‘tree of life’.
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