Last Updated: Feb 02, 2013
Popular Chocolate Tours:
To experience chocolate in its purest form, visit the ChocoRart organic cacao farm in Playa Chiquita, just outside of Puerto Viejo on the southern Caribbean coast. Owned and operated by a Swiss couple, the farm harvests, ferments and cooks cacao in the same traditional manner that the Mayans used for thousands of years. Sugar is added to the chocolate, as are natural flavors such as ginger, coconut, vanilla and nuts. Tours are offered by reservation only and a chocolate tasting is included.
Just 30 minutes north of Playa Chiquita, the Bribri Indigenous Reserve is famous for its chocolate products. For hundreds of years, the Bribri have cultivated cacao, a plant they see as sacred, and utilized its bean for important rituals and traditional remedies. Chocolate tours are available to several Bribri homes, where cacao artisans take visitors through the chocolate-making process, from harvest to chocolate bar. Best of all, delicious, homemade chocolate is available for purchase at the end of each tour.
Tirimbina Rainforest Center, on the outskirts of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, offers a delectable chocolate tour – one of their most popular attractions. Discover the natural history of this ancient food and the entire chocolate-making process. The three-hour experience includes a tour of a former cacao plantation and a taste of hot cocoa and organic chocolate.
Located in the quaint village of Mastatal de Puriscal, the family-run La Iguana Chocolate Farm has produced organic chocolate for more than 25 years. Take a tour and learn how cacao is harvested, dried and fermented to produce cocoa powder, chocolate and other delicious goodies. The sustainable farm offers daily tours and welcomes volunteers to assist in cocoa production and local community service projects.
Learn how cacao is harvested and processed into delicious organic chocolate on an interactive tour of Finca Kobo. About a half an hour west of Puerto Jimenez on the Osa Peninsula, the farm is completely sustainable – and home to a number of wild animals, including sloths and monkeys. A highlight of the tour is at the very end, when the plantation owners serve white pineapple, banana bread, chocolate cake and four types of bananas to dip into freshly made chocolate sauce.
History of Cacao in Costa Rica:
The chocolate bean, which is harvested from the cacao tree, has a long history in Costa Rica. The beans were originally used as currency during pre-Columbian times by indigenous tribes. Cacao was one of the major crops in Costa Rica until the introduction of coffee and tobacco in the late 1700's. It remained an important export well into the 1900's until a fungus swept through the plantations, killing more than 70% of the cacao trees in Costa Rica.
The majority of Costa Rica's cacao is harvested in the Caribbean lowlands where plentiful rainfall and land aid in cacao growth. It is a shade-grown crop, and one of the few agricultural industries that does not necessitate deforestation. As a result, much of Costa Rica's wildlife and migrant bird species are finding shelter in the rejuvenating cacao plantations.