Chocolate lovers, rejoice. At last, there is an adventurous and encompassing way to experience the real life of a chocolatier in Costa Rica, exploring chocolate from tree to bean to bar on a cacao farm on the lush green Caribbean coast. You'll spend a week in Puerto Viejo de Limon, the "Napa Valley of Chocolate," immersed in everything cacao.
Ripe cacao — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica
While the rest of the world is just awakening to the outstanding health benefits of consuming raw cacao and high-quality chocolate, indigenous Costa Ricans have worshiped this fruit of the gods for ages, and they still claim it possesses magical powers.
On the Chocolate Maker's Dream Vacation, you'll be privy to the secret life of cacao in Costa Rica, how to grow and harvest cacao on a real cacao farm, discover how chocolate is roasted and refined and even make some of your own gourmet chocolate.
An old banana barge, abandoned after cacao took over as the Caribbean's biggest crop — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica
This vacation includes transportation to and from the airport in San Jose, hotel lodging at the Mango Walk Cacao Farm, meals, a wine and tapas party, complete bean to bar chocolate education, a chocolate tasting and tour, ingredients for your own batch of custom chocolate, use of the chocolate making equipment in the micro-chocolate factory and a day trip to a cacao cooperative. The trip culminates with the production of your very own batch of customized chocolate that you've harvested, refined and conched yourself.
In between getting to know cacao and chocolate making and tasting activities, you'll explore Puerto Viejo de Limon and the surrounding region's exquisite beaches; its winding strip of laid-back beach bars, casual cafes and open-air restaurants; and jaw-dropping natural attractions such as the Manzanillo Gandoca Wildlife Refuge and Cahuita National Park. Sloths make themselves at home in cacao trees; look for them lounging in the branches and nibbling on the oversized green leaves or hanging upside down from the branches.
The Chocolate Maker's Dream Vacation is hosted in part by Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate of the Chocolate Forest Experience, a half-day foray into a real cacao forest. These are folks who don't mind getting their hands dirty in the process of offering a truly well-rounded education in chocolate.
The Chocolate Maker's Dream Vacation is limited to a small handful of vacationers at a time, and reservations are suggested at least one month in advance. Rates start at about $2000 per person. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot, and visit the Caribeans website for more information.