While there are a vast number of ecotourism
opportunities for visitors to Costa Rica, chocolate tours offer travelers a unique perspective on the landscape and culture of the Central American nation.
Chocolate (Cacao) Tours
One of the best ways for travelers to truly appreciate the rich culture and local produce found in the country is to take advantage of chocolate tours offered throughout parts of the country.
Travelers with a sweet tooth should make sure to prioritize a tour like this, which will take them through local organic cacao farms, where chocolate can be found in its purest form. In addition to sampling this delicious treat, tourists can expect to learn a great deal about the local culture from the farmers who serve as the backbone of the country's economy.
These farmers harvest, ferment and cook the cacao crop in the traditional methods of the Mayan culture, maintaining the techniques passed down from generation to generation. The chocolate bean, which is harvested from the cacao tree, was originally used as currency during the pre-Columbian era by indigenous tribes in Costa Rica.
Demise of Cacao
Prior to the introduction of tobacco and coffee in the late 1700s, cacao was one of Costa Rica's major crops, and remained an important export well into the early 1900s. While a majority of the cacao trees were killed by a fungus outbreak during the 1900s, a number of them still exist in the country's Caribbean lowlands
, as well as parts of the Southern Pacific
Going on a Cacao Plantation Tour
Touring a cacao plantation can be an exciting experience for all members of the family, as many of these tours offer a firsthand glimpse into the chocolate-making process from the harvest to the production. These adventures can often last for multiple hours and are always capped off by opportunities to sample and purchase the homemade products, which include hot cocoa, chocolate cake and chocolate sauce that can be used for dipping bananas.
As these spots on these tours can fill up rather quickly, travelers are encouraged to make reservations prior to their trip.
Chocolate tours are an excellent way to immerse oneself in the local culture while also indulging in samples of the delicious candy.