What is chocolate tourism and how to find the best chocolate experiences?

by | May 7, 2024 | Chocolate Information

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Have you ever considered planning your vacations entirely around chocolate? Wineries have been offering wine tours for years, so why not a chocolate tour! In this article, we’ll get into the world of chocolate tourism and investigate some of the top chocolate experiences. We’ll provide guidance and tips to help you create the ultimate chocolate-themed vacation! So, pack your suitcase and get ready to embark on a wonderfully-chocolaty-deliciously-decadent trip.  Channel your inner Willy Wonka, and imagine what he would do!

What is chocolate tourism?

Chocolate tourism is all about traveling to places where cacao is grown or chocolate is made. It’s a niche in the travel industry that focuses on exploring chocolate production, culture, and history. This type of tourism involves visiting cacao farms, chocolate factories, bean to bar chocolate shops, chocolate museums, chocolate tastings, chocolate making workshops and even chocolate-themed festivals or events. It’s a chance for travelers to learn the history of cacao and chocolate, understand how chocolate is made, discover its cultural significance, and, of course, taste delicious chocolate. 

What are the must-visit destinations for chocolate lovers?

  • Switzerland: Renowned for its chocolate-making heritage, it boasts famous brands like Lindt, Läderach, and Nestlé. You can visit chocolate factories, participate in chocolate-making classes, and enjoy delightful chocolate tastings. Lindt’s Home of Chocolate museum is not to be missed – it provides a well-constructed journey from cacao cultivation to chocolate production with chocolate tasting along the way. 
  • Belgium: With its huge reputation of having amazing chocolate, you can explore chocolate museums, join chocolate-making workshops, and taste a diverse range of Belgian chocolates, from pralines and truffles to chocolate bars.
  • France: France is famous for its long history of making chocolate, especially in cities like Paris and Lyon. You can explore the famous Musée du Chocolat in Paris and visit artisanal chocolate shops in Montmartre. There are also chocolate festivals to enjoy and chocolate-themed walking tours to discover the city’s chocolate legacy.

In the heart of the Rhône Valley, make sure to visit the Cité du Chocolat Valrhona, where you can enjoy a fun and educational tour all about chocolate. Explore everything from harvesting cocoa to crafting delicious treats with skilled artisans. You’ll have the chance to taste and appreciate the different flavors, shapes, colors, and textures of 15 to 20 chocolates. Plus, there are workshops and activities held along the tour throughout the day. These sessions help you learn more about chocolate-related skills and techniques in a hands-on way.

  • Ecuador: As a major cacao grower, Ecuador provides distinctive opportunities for chocolate lovers to visit cacao farms and understand the chocolate-making process from bean to bar. You can enjoy chocolate tastings showcasing Ecuadorian cacao varieties.
  • Mexico: Mexico has a rich history in chocolate-making, dating back to ancient civilizations like the Aztecs and Mayans. You can delve into this heritage by visiting chocolate museums, observing traditional chocolate-making demonstrations, and enjoying an authentic Mexican chocolate beverage like hot chocolate or a dinner with mole sauce. Additionally, in Mexico City, there’s a fun chocolate tasting guide to lead you through a sensory journey, highlighting the diverse flavors and captivating aromas found in Mexican cacao.

Also, make sure to check out this hidden treasure right in the heart of Mexico City – Qué Bo. It stands alone as the premier chocolate shop in Mexico, earning recognition among the world’s finest by Le Guide de Croqueurs de Chocolat, the foremost authority on chocolate tasting. At Qué Bo’s various locations, you’ll discover an array of exotic chocolates, bonbons, and desserts that beautifully represent the cocoa’s evolution in Mexico. 

  • United States: Cities like San Francisco, New York, and Seattle are centers for craft chocolate.  You can book chocolate factory tours, participate in chocolate festivals, and explore local chocolate boutiques.

A must visit is  the historic Ghirardelli Square for an incredible chocolate experience. Enjoy 15 unique sundaes, including the famous Hot Fudge Sundae, relax in a replica San Francisco cable car seating area, and view antique chocolate-making equipment. They also have a newly remodeled Chocolate Experience Store.

 At Dandelion Chocolate, join a guided tour of the historic brick 16th Street factory led by a knowledgeable chocolate educator. Witness the entire chocolate-making process and taste a variety of samples, from fresh cacao pulp to the final chocolate product. Most weekdays , you can observe chocolate makers in action and savor the aroma of freshly roasted cocoa beans. On weekends, get exclusive factory access to learn about chocolate history, sourcing, and production. Both tours include plenty of chances to taste delicious chocolate.

Hawaii is the only state in the US where cacao is grown commercially. Lydgate Farms has an 8-acre family farm where they are producing the very first chocolate bar made from 100% Kauai-grown beans. They offer a tasting experience guided by experts who will enlighten you about the cacao farming process while you enjoy delectable samples of Hawaiian-grown chocolate.  If you’re on Oahu, make sure to visit Madre Chocolate which produces a variety of craft chocolate bars with flavors inspired by the islands. 

Teaching travelers about cocoa cultivation and sustainability

Today, it’s really important to teach travelers about cocoa cultivation and sustainability, which should be an important part of all chocolate tourism. This means visiting cocoa farms to see how cocoa beans are grown in a sustainable way. Visit farms that are in line with your values, for example, those that use methods like organic farming, which is better for the environment, and that make sure workers are treated fairly. When visiting these farms, not only do you learn a lot about how chocolate is made but you also help support cocoa farming that’s good for the planet and the people who work there.

While you can plan your own trip to cacao growing regions, there are many craft chocolate companies that have regular trips that you can join.  

  • Join a Dandelion trip to experience cacao farming and chocolate making up close and personal, while building relationships with other chocolate lovers.
  • Explore Zorzal Cacao with a hands-on journey through the Caribbean rainforest. Learn about the entire cacao-making process, from harvesting at Reserva Zorzal to fermentation. Plus, enjoy plenty of opportunities to taste delicious chocolate during your visit.
  • Also make sure to check out Cacao Life, two Peruvian childhood friends determined to prove that high quality cacao and superfoods can be sustainable, ethical, and fairly traded.

For more great articles and recipes, check out the rest of our CocoTerra blog

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us through our social media channels.  We are @cocoterra_co on Instagram and Pinterest and @cocoterraco on X (aka Twitter) and Facebook.

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