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Chocolatiers and Chocolate Lovers Converge in the Caribbean
The Caribbean is known for many things: sandy beaches, killer surf spots, luxury hotels, and a unique regional cuisine. But did you know one of the Caribbean islands’ top exports is cacao beans? The Caribbean has some of the top-rated cacao beans and cocoa products in the world, and local chocolate products are right at your fingertips. From chocolate-themed restaurants to cocoa plantation tours and everything in between, the Caribbean sees your chocolate craving, and raises you chocolate paradise!Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Make Your Own Chocolate Goodies with Nassau's Graycliff Chocolatier
What do you think goes best with chocolate? Red wine? A fine cigar? In Nassau, Bahamas, Graycliff can make the perfect pairing for decadent indulgence. Located just a few blocks uphill from the cruise-ship crowds on bustling Bay Street, the Graycliff complex includes a historic hotel, restaurants, a Cuban cigar factory, one of the world's great wine collections -- and the Graycliff Chocolatier.
Working with cacao sourced from across the Caribbean, Graycliff produces everything from truffles and bonbons to white and dark chocolate cigars. Visitors can step behind the curtain to see how chocolate is made from bean to bar, then get their hands dirty (with chocolate, of course) during classes where you'll learn to make your own signature Graycliff chocolate bar, marshmallow pops, and more.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Fond Doux Plantation, St. Lucia
For over a decade, Fond Doux Estate and Plantation on St. Lucia has been running “cocoa tours” across their expansive property, which includes not only a cocoa plantation and fields of local fruits and vegetables, but also 10 cozy cottages restored from their 18th-century roots into modern luxury suites.
Visit Fond Doux and explore the cocoa fields yourself on the Tree to Bean Tour, or take a whack at The Bean to Bar class, where you’ll learn how to grind your own cocoa beans into the paste that eventually becomes that delectable sweet-treat we all know and love.
Don’t want to do the work yourself? Maybe you just can’t get enough chocolate? Visit either of the on-site restaurants – Cocoa Pod and Jardin Cacao Restaurant – each featuring chocolate plate specials and other locally farmed treats. Cocoa Pod serves daily breakfast and buffet lunches, while Jardin Cacao Restaurant offers an a la carte lunch menu and dinner. Whatever meal you decide to partake in, one thing is for sure: you’ll... get your cocoa fix – and you’ll never look at a Hershey bar the same way again.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Hotel Chocolat, St. Lucia
Just around the island from Fond Doux Plantation is another sweet cocoa spot: Boucan, a.k.a. Hotel Chocolat. St. Lucia’s premium cacao beans are world-renowned, and at this hotel they get the five-star treatment. From cocoa-inspired cuisine to hands-on plantation tours and chocolate-based massages, Hotel Chocolat is all about the bean.
This boutique property is set amidst fields and fields of cocoa pods and offers a unique blend of tourist experiences and a devoted awareness of environmentalism and agriculture. The rooms and property are even painted in different shades of cocoa, evoking those comfortable, sweet memories of chocolate everywhere you go.
A luxury hotel that not only indulges your sweet tooth, but encourages it? At Hotel Chocolat, it’s a dream that at last isn’t too good to be true.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Cortes Chocobar, San Juan, Puerto Rico
At Cortes Chocobar, what you see is what you get: and what you see is chocolate. Established in 1926, the Chocolate Cortes Company in the Dominican Republic provides chocolate to both the DR and Puerto Rico -- in the latter case, providing the chocolate that serves as the base for so many of the dishes at San Juan's Chocobar.
Everything here is “chocolatized”: chocolate grilled cheese, chocolate breakfast, chocolate drink menu – you name it, they’ve got it. Too far outside the (Russell Stover) box? Fear not, the Chocobar also carries Cortes' world-famous hot cocoa, pastries, and chocolate sauce.
The restaurant itself is decorated with chocolate history – of the company, the chocolate plantations, the cocoa bean itself. Surprisingly, however, despite this dedication to tradition, one major aspect of the Cortes Chocobar seems especially modern: the chocolate itself.
Unlike much of the natural, traditionally prepared chocolate of the Caribbean, the Cortes chocolate company sweetens... their chocolate with sugar, giving it a sweeter taste that's a bit closer to what most chocolate eaters are used to. If you’re seeking a chocolate culinary adventure, this is certainly the spot for you – after all, you can’t get chocolate-covered bacon for breakfast just anywhere!Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
The Grenada Chocolate Company
Powered by solar energy and dedicated to a sustainable future, The Grenada Chocolate Company does more than make delicious chocolate treats. Established in 1999, this Grenada company has won countless awards for their organic, expertly cultivated cacao beans and chocolate products, and have time and time again impressed judges in the chocolate world with their delectable sweets that are not only amazing bites, but manufactured in an astoundingly environmentally friendly process. From solar-powered cultivation plants to sustainable transportation, the Grenada Chocolate company knows that chocolate is not only good for you, but can be good for the environment, too.
Book a trip to Grenada today to take the company’s full-operation tour that takes visitors through the harvesting, tempering, molding, roasting, and refining processes – and perhaps most importantly, the tasting of the final product.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
The Grenada Chocolate Festival
If you visit Grenada during the month of May you can immerse yourself in the Grenada Chocolate Festival, an island-wide, month-long tribute to the cacao bean that involves everyone from cacao farmers to chocolate producers and vendors, local business, schools, hotels and restaurants, food sellers, and chocolate lovers from around the world.
The festival, hosted by the True Blue Bay Resort, is a great place to learn about Grenada's production of high-quality, ethically produced, single-origin, organic cocoa. Events typically include an opening party, meet-and-greet with farmers, tasting sessions, chocolate-themed art exhibits, lectures on chocolate history, and a charity silent auction. Tickets are available from True Blue Bay Resort.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Tobago Cocoa Estate, Tobago
At Tobago Cocoa Estate, visitors can receive a chocolate education: this is a Trinidad & Tobago heritage park where visitors can not only sample and buy chocolate, but can also explore the grounds and learn about the history of chocolate and its production and uses around the world.
Visit Tobago Cocoa Estate to partake in culinary tourism – the melding of fun, local experiences with the pizazz of local flavors. Visitors can choose from a variety of tours including a Creole Breakfast Tour, an Afternoon Tea Tour, or a Culinary Tobago tour, each featuring a rotation of local dishes highlighting the cacao bean as their star.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Agapey Chocolate Factory, Barbados
What’s better than chocolate? Nothing, but at Agapey Chocolate Factory in Barbados, they work hard to make their chocolate the best around. Agapey prides itself on using the highest quality cacao beans in the world and combining these elite beans with Barbadian Plantation Reserve Gold Cane Sugar, making for a treat that is not only rich and sweet, but something quite extraordinary as well. As Agapey Chocolate Factory asserts, they are a “single source” operation, working straight from “bean to bar.”
To experience the elite dark chocolate of Agapey firsthand, the factory offers guided tours that include tasting dark chocolate and the Reserve Cane Sugar, learning about chocolate origins and history, and witnessing parts of the in-house bean to bar process.
Book a tour today, but keep this friendly visitor tip from Agapey in mind: no cologne or perfume on the premises – the only smell you want wafting around is chocolate!Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
El Sendero del Cacao, Dominican Republic
Hacienda La Esmeralda García Jiménez in San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic (about halfway between Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata) is home to El Sendero del Cacao -- The Cacao Trail. Owned by the Rizek family, the cacao plantation offers daily tours that begin with a welcoming glass of hot chocolate and proceed to the fields of organic cacao, where you'll learn the secrets of fine chocolate production and even have the opportunity to sow your own cacao plant.
The tour also includes a traditional lunch -- Do we even have to say what's for dessert?