Saint Lucia is a fantasy landscape, a tropical beach with the twin peaks of the volcanic Pitons providing a stunning backdrop. As if a trip to Saint Lucia couldn't get any more surreal, the Caribbean island has become one of the world's hottest destinations for chocolate tourism, and tasting this decadent treat while you're here is definitely worth your while.
As you tour cacao plantations or estates, you can trace the steps of chocolate-making, from harvesting cacao pods to wrapping chocolate bars. If you're more into indulging in your favorite treat, you can track down cafés and bakeries creating chocolate treats, and savor restaurants whose chefs are committed to great chocolate dishes and desserts. You may take culinary classes focusing on creating the sweet and learning how to taste it like a pro. And if you're truly obsessed, you can even stay in chocolate-centric hotels, like Saint Lucia's Boucan by Hotel Chocolat. Read on for your ultimate guide to chocolate in Saint Lucia.
History of Chocolate in St. Lucia
Chocolate is part of Saint Lucia's legacy: The island has produced cacao for centuries. The island's mountain slopes provide ideal growing conditions, as cacao trees love rich volcanic soil and shade. In the past, the island's cacao beans were exported to Europe or to Hershey, Pennsylvania to be made into chocolate; today, Saint Lucia keeps some cacao for its own chocolate production. Chocolate-making is very labor-intensive, and the process has hardly changed over the years. However, there has been one modification. The traditional cocoa-rina dance—done barefoot atop cacao beans to polish them—now belongs to the past.
Types of Chocolate in Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia chocolate is for discerning purists, as it contains less sugar than Belgian, Dutch, French, American, and other chocolates. This results in a more intense cocoa flavor, one that can be enjoyed in a variety of concoctions and recipes. Single-estate Saint Lucia chocolate—made entirely on one plantation—is high status and has its own flavor, much like wine from different vineyards. The flavor of this is best enjoyed in moderation.
Saint Lucia makes both milk and dark chocolate. The milk chocolate is smooth and airy; the dark chocolate is full of deep flavor, barely sweetened, but not bitter. In Saint Lucia, chocolate is considered as much a savory mealtime experience as a sweet experience. If you're craving dessert, we recommend tasting a Saint Lucia banana split.
Cocoa tea is a Saint Lucia tradition that captivates visitors. It was originated by newly freed slaves as a cheap, locally produced alternative to expensively imported coffee beans or tea leaves. Nowadays, cocoa tea is served all over Saint Lucia, from roadside carts to the finest restaurants. Cocoa sticks, used to make cocoa tea, are easy to find in Saint Lucia and make for a great souvenir.
Best Chocolate Tours in Saint Lucia
There are a variety of tour operators offering immersive chocolate experiences in Saint Lucia. Read on for our selections for the best ones.
- La Dauphine Estate: Partake in the complimentary "bean to bar" tour of the chocolate factory and café at La Dauphine Estate.
- Fond Doux Estate: Visit this 135-acre heritage estate with a high-end tour package that includes the cocoa-rina dance, which guests can participate in. Tours start at $50.
- Morne Coubaril Estate: On the Historical Estate Tour, guests can taste a ripe cocoa bean at the property's cocoa house. This 45-minute tour is $11 per adult.
- Marquis Estate Tour: Book a three-hour tour of Marquis Estate, located in Marquis Bay.
- Boucan by Hotel Chocolat: Hotel Chocolat is an English-owned chocolate brand with its very own boutique hotel. With a cacao plantation on the hotel's adjoining Rabot Estate, Boucan guests (as well as visitors) can relish a chocolate immersion experience focused on the excellent chocolate produced on-property. The three-hour tour, the interactive Tree to Bar Experience, turns guests into chocolatiers.
- Jade Mountain: This top St. Lucia hotel is committed to chocolate production and connoisseurship. The resort's own organic chocolate is single-estate, and was developed by James Beard Award-winning consulting chef Allen Susser. You can take a complimentary tour through their Chocolate Laboratory, and participate in special dinners and celebrations all year round.
Chocolate Spa Treatments
If you're interested in sweetening up your wellness routine, then Saint Lucia is the perfect island for you to visit. Read on for our selection of the best chocolate spa treatments on the Caribbean island:
- Cacao Facial at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat: The hotel's chocolate is in evidence everywhere: on the menu, in the bar, in the spa, in the guest lodges. As for the spa, guests can enjoy cacao facials, body wraps, and massages to immerse in the beautifying purposes of the island's cocoa.
- Rainforest Spa at Sugar Beach Viceroy: The spa at this luxury resort capitalizes on the nourishing elements of the nearby cocoa plantations by utilizing rich cocoa butter to soothe and moisturize tired skin.
- Chocolate Delight at Jade Mountain: This treatment at the Kai En Ciel Spa at Jade Mountain revitalizes skin by applying warm then cooling chocolate in layers to stimulate endorphins.
How To Celebrate Chocolate Heritage Month
August is Chocolate Heritage Month on Saint Lucia. It celebrates the island's chocolate, plus Saint Lucia's history and culture.
In the month of August, many resorts will have chocolate spa packages, which makes indulging in the nation's signature sweet that much easier. Also, remember to indulge in the "choc-tail" on the bar menu and participate in the traditional cocoa-rina dance. May your next Saint Lucia vacation be your sweetest adventure yet.