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Tongan ‘Otai (Coconut & Watermelon Drink) Recipe

Tongan ‘Otai (Coconut & Watermelon Drink) Recipe

‘Otai is a Tongan coconut-based drink made using local, fresh coconuts, seasonable fruits, and a variety of aromatic spices. It has a creamy consistency and is considered to be refreshing.

The drink can contain a variety of different fruits including mango and pineapple, and is almost always made with watermelon. ‘Otai is traditionally made with coconut milk, however, some recipes use a combination of coconut and cow’s milk to make the drink go further. 

Origin & Cultural Significance

‘Otai originated in Western Polynesia and was traditionally drunk at meal times. Now the drink is most associated with Tonga, although you can find different versions of the drink in many different Pacific Islands, including Tuvalu, Futuna, and Uvea.

The original version of the fruity drink is thought to have been made in Samoa using ambarella fruit with a combination of coconut meat, milk, and water. 

Traditionally the drink was poured into coconut shells, corked with coconut husk, and stored behind waterfalls or in cold pools of water to keep the drink cool. The tropical drink is synonymous with island life and is still served in empty coconut shells, especially in tourist destinations, and enjoyed by Polynesian communities all over the world, particularly in Australia.

Tongan 'Otai

Tongan 'Otai Recipe

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Otai is a Tongan coconut-based drink made using local, fresh coconuts, seasonable fruits, and a variety of aromatic spices.


  • Coconut (grated) - 1 (or 2 cups of coconut milk)
  • Pineapple (diced) - 1/2
  • Watermelon - (diced) 1/4
  • Mango (diced) - 1
  • Sugar - 1/4 cup (optional)
  • Lime juice - from 2 limes
  • Ground cinnamon - 1/2 tsp
  • Ground nutmeg - 1/4 tsp
  • Ice cubes - for serving
  • Fresh mint leaves - for garnish


  1. If using fresh coconut, grate the coconut flesh using a coconut grater. Alternatively, use canned or packaged coconut milk.
  2. In a large bowl, combine grated coconut (or coconut milk), diced pineapple, watermelon, and mango.
  3. Add sugar (if using), lime juice, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg to the bowl. Stir well to combine.
  4. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
  5. Before serving, give the Otai a good stir.
  6. Serve the Otai chilled over ice cubes.
  7. Garnish with fresh mint leaves for a burst of color and freshness.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 151Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 42mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 3gSugar: 24gProtein: 1g

Nutrition is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. It is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimation.

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