Haroon Ibrahim has an unusual job in a place that looks almost like paradise. He is a Toddy Tapper in the Maldives.
What is Toddy Tapping?
Toddy is the juice extracted from the flower buds of the coconut palm, and it’s a meticulous process to harvest it from coconut palm trees.
The toddy is enjoyed as a refreshing drink or made into palm sugar, which is used in many Maldivian desserts.
Toddy tapping used to be an important occupation in the Maldives, second only to fishing. However, it’s become somewhat of a dying art and is a skill that is usually passed down from father to son.
Coco Palm Dhuni Kohlu
Ibrahim works at Coco Palm Dhuni Kohlu, a luxury island resort in the Maldives at the southern tip of Baa Atoll, which is home to some of the most diverse marine life in the Maldives.
Since 2011, Baa Atoll has been a designated UNESCO biosphere reserve. Nearby Hanifaru Bay is one of the few places in the world where giant manta rays and whale sharks congregate, and it’s a bucket-list dive in the Maldives.
The Maldives is made up of a chain of 1,200 small coral islands. About 200 of the islands are inhabited. Travelers come to the Maldives for the white-sand beaches and crystal blue waters.
While guests enjoy the quiet luxury resort of Coco Palm Dhuni Kohlu, Ibrahim and the rest of the Coco Palm team ensure they have everything they need and want.
That includes, of course, the traditional Toddy drink. We asked Ibrahim more about his unique job at Coco Palm Dhuni Kohlu. Here’s what he had to say.
How Did You Become a Toddy Man?
I was born and raised on Thulhadhoo in Baa Atoll, a neighboring island to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. I have always loved the idea of living a simple life.
Even as a young man, I was interested in trying my hand at a lot of traditional crafts and activities, such as boat building, playing local drums known as Bodu Beru, and doing the beautiful lacquer work that my island is known for.
I have always had an interest in toddy tapping. I learned from a gentleman who visited my island from Meedhoo in Raa Atoll. I observed him toddy tapping and learned the little tricks of the trade. Soon after, I started practicing myself.
What is the Process of Toddy Tapping?
First, you need to identify a strong and healthy coconut tree. Next, you affix the ladder on the palm tree. We use a wooden ladder that is bound to the tree with coir rope, so it’s strong and stable.
Once you climb up, you must select a coconut flower. On average, you will find 3 to 5 flowers on a coconut tree. Select the oldest flower and cut the tip.
The next day, you must trim the tip in the morning, then again in the afternoon and once more in the evening.
On the third day, you remove the spathe of the coconut flower. Then, using the leaf of a screw pine tree, you “tape” the coconut flower by wrapping it around the cut.
The next day, gently bend the cut coconut flower towards the ground. Use coir rope to hold the coconut flower in place.
For the next two to three days, keep bending the coconut flower towards the ground until it’s at about 90 degrees.
Once it is at the correct angle, you keep trimming the tip of the coconut flower for the next four to five days, being careful to only cut very little.
When you start to see the toddy dripping out from the coconut flower, it’s time to place the badhi under the coconut flower.
Badhi is a container made from coconut shells and bound with coir rope and is hung under the flower to collect the toddy. Once the badhi is full, you finally have your delicious and refreshing toddy ready to drink!
What Do You Like About Living in the Maldives?
What I love the most about living in the Maldives is the natural environment. Being surrounded by the beauty of our seas, the sand and the sunshine makes me so proud to live here.
Learn more at Coco Palm Dhuni Kohlu