A single bean of cacao is both sacred and a commodity in Costa Rica and taking chocolate tours around the country will let you discover everything there is to know about this delectable delicacy. All over the regions of Costa Rica, there are various chocolate tours offered for all who are interested in more than just eating chocolates.
The history of cacao, the many techniques of processing it, the ritualistic side of chocolate and many more await the eager visitors of many chocolate plantations. So if you want a different experience with chocolate, this is a definite must-do when you’re in the country.
The cacao beans used to be the currency of the Pre-Columbians during the hype of the trading industry before the Spanish conquistadors arrived. In the late 1700’s, chocolate beans were the major crop of the country until coffee and tobacco came into the picture. Unfortunately, there was a fungus that swept many chocolate farms away in the 1900’s, abolishing over 70% of cacao trees of the entire country.
The Different Tours
ChocoRart Cacao Plantation- Just south of Puerto Viejo, Playa Chiquita is home to a chocolate plantation which allows you to experience cacao in its purest form. This chocolate tour was established by a Swiss couple who grow, harvest and ferment these beans the same way the Mayan Indians do it. The sugar is then added to the chocolate plus a few other ingredients such as coconut, ginger, vanilla plus nuts.
This tour is inclusive of chocolate testing and is strictly upon reservation.
Bribri Indigenous Reserve-The Bribri people have considered the cacao bean sacred and have been cultivating these plants for hundreds of years. They’ve used it for rituals and practices as well as remedies. Guests will be taken to different Bribri homes where the process of making chocolates from beans to bars is shown. The best part of the tour is that every end of an hour, chocolate bars are ready to be tasted and purchased.
Palo Seco Chocolate Farm Tour- This is located in the Osa Peninsula and like the other cacao plantations, this chocolate tour allows you to witness the astounding way of making chocolates. This tour is inclusive of an overnight stay in the farm plus three meals to satisfy you for the entire trip.
Finca Kobo- In this tour, you’ll learn how organic chocolates are harvested and made. Apart from the chocolates, you’ll be able to do a bit of animal-sighting along the way. The main part of the tour is when the plantation owners serve you with white pineapple, banana bread plus four types of bananas to dip into the freshly processed chocolate sauce.
Tours are offered around 9:00AM and 2:00PM. Reservations are required at least 24 hours before scheduled trip.
Tirimbina Rainforest Center and Wildlife Refuge- Apart from the prosperous vegetation and rich wildlife of Tirimbina, they also offer their guests a 3-hour chocolate tour in a former cacao plantation. This is where they will learn more about the process of chocolate-making. Guests will also be able to sample fresh and organic rainforest chocolates.
The tours are available twice a day and reservations are as well required.
La Iguana Chocolate Farm- This family-run chocolate farm has been producing organic chocolate for a little over 25 years. In this chocolate tour, you will learn how chocolate is fermented and processed into powder, bars, sauces and other choco products. A unique fact about this farm is that they accept volunteers to help them out in the production of chocolates as well as doing services for the local communities.
They offer daily tours in La Iguana Chocolate Farm.
You don’t need to have a sweet tooth to appreciate this unique because you’ll end up learning a lot more and gain higher respect for this bean that has been a vital element in the Costa Rican culture. One thing’s for sure: you’ll never look at chocolate the same way ever again.