Of all the types of tours that you can take in Costa Rica – and there are many types – my all-time favorite might be one that is a little less traditional: a chocolate tour! While I’ve been hopping around cacao trees for years, admiring their beauty, actual organized tours have become very popular in Costa Rica lately. It truly is a great time to visit my great country! You can find a chocolate tour in several different regions, so no matter where you are visiting, you should check for tour availability.

The cacao tree is deeply rooted within the history of Costa Rica. At one time, cacao seeds were even considered so valuable that they were used as a form of currency, given in exchange for valuable commodities. Chocolate has been referred to as a gift of the Gods, or food of the Gods, and it was used as a drink in ancient ceremonies. Through time, many of those traditions were lost, but cacao trees and chocolate are still very respected and popular today.

Javi the Frog having fun next to cacao seeds in La Fortuna
Javi the Frog having fun next to cacao seeds in La Fortuna


The Secrets of Chocolate

A chocolate tour in Costa Rica is definitely a unique experience. I never knew that there was so much history and culture connected to cacao trees and the chocolate that is produced from the trees. When you take a chocolate tour, you get to learn so much, not just about the history of cacao, but about the processes used to make it into a food and a drink. It was definitely interesting to hear about chocolate’s origins, but I was also fascinated to learn about its use in culture, its connection to traditions, and how they create so many different flavors. The secret is using fresh spices and herbs that are grown locally!

Guide explanation at cacao tour
Guide explanation at cacao tour


Taking a Chocolate Tour

If you are a chocolate lover, it is a no-brainer that you must take a chocolate tour while you’re in Costa Rica. But even if chocolate isn't your passion, a tour is still educational and fun, and will introduce you to my country’s culture and beauty. A chocolate tour is a great way to start or end your time in Costa Rica. You can head over for a one-day, regular tour, pre-book a private tour, or even experience a multi-day adventure at a cacao farm. A Costa Rica chocolate tour is kind of similar to going on a wine tour in Napa Valley in the US. Your tour guides will present a past, present and future of cacao that is sure to impress. While a tasting tour is great for those that just need to get their hands on some excellent chocolate, I prefer to take the entire tour. I like to hop through the rainforest, and see the production process, from start to finish. I learn something new about the development of the economy in Costa Rica each time I take a tour!

Depending on the type of tour you decide to take, you will get to taste some of the finest chocolate, see cacao trees in the rainforest, help harvest seeds and sometimes, even make your own chocolate. Pretty much every program will definitely include tasting a variety of cacao products, from beans to chocolate bars. You might get to sample the natural cacao fruit, or some places roast their beans for tasting. It’s not just bean-to-bar chocolate either, sometimes it is bean-to-cup! If you prefer to drink your chocolate, you’re in luck! From hot chocolates to coffee drinks, there is something for everyone.

Cacao grinding before sugar added
Cacao grinding before sugar added


One of the great things about a chocolate tour is that you also get to enjoy the local scenery. Companies like Rainforest Chocolate Tour, in La Fortuna, include an amazing view of the mighty Arenal Volcano. Many tours also include a hike through a cacao forest with an experienced tour guide. Everything that you do on a chocolate tour is sure to be something you remember, but my absolute favorite thing to do is to visit the chocolate factories to see all the machines at work. The first thing you’ll notice is how amazing it smells! It’s pretty amazing to see a cacao bean transform into the chocolate products that we know and love today. I also love to pick up some chocolate to take with me on my travels. Many times, the companies will have a small store where you can buy products that you tasted, for a discounted price. Buy some for you, and take some home to your friends.

Delicious melted cacao ready to eat
Delicious melted cacao ready to eat


If you are really, really into chocolate, you can extend your tour to as many as seven days! These tours are great, and you can usually buy a package that will cover everything you need on-site. On these tours, you get to truly become a chocolate insider. You will get to tour the farms and harvest the fruit that you’ll use for your very own batch of chocolate. Imagine how cool it would be to bring home for your friends and family chocolate that you made yourself! I know that I’ll be going back for a chocolate tour every chance I get. I hope to see you there!

Cacao (chocolate) growing at a farm in Sarapiqui
Cacao (chocolate) growing at a farm in Sarapiqui