When we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do on the island of Kauai, I received a Facebook message from a friend who suggested doing a chocolate farm tour. We googled it and scheduled a tour with the Garden Island Chocolate Farm. This tour took 3 hours, cost $89 a person (children are $29) and included a chocolate tasting of about 18 different types and recipes of chocolate!
Now if you read the TripAdvisor reviews of this place, you will most likely decide against trying this place out. But honestly, it’s amazing. In the US we tend to think of farms in a very linear way. We think rows and rows of plants producing food that we can wander through. Here, this experience was more of a food forest and less of the traditional farm. This is important to helping the cacao pods grow, but more on that later!
We started off with a tasting of various fruits, some macadamia nuts and some sugar cane. I’ve never actually tried straight up sugar cane with was super, super cool to try (you chew on it a little and suck the juices out).
The macadamia nuts were super cool too. Usually I just eat these covered in chocolate and enjoy my life not knowing what the nuts look like or how to open them. I could eat these all day, which may or may not be a bad thing. (Disclaimer: This week I did in fact eat an entire giant bag of these little guys covered in chocolate…oops.)
Moving on, cacao trees need shade in order to produce and protect their pods, hence why the food forest concept is way better than a traditional farm. Monkeys, rats, and squirrels were the first to know about cacao pods and they actually helped the trees pollinate and continue to spread in the rainforest of South America. Now here’s a fun fact, it takes 2 years for a cacao tree to produce pods. The peak production of pods are around 7-15 years, and a cacao tree can live for up to 60 years.
Part of the tour is helping make the chocolate. Okay only a portion of the chocolate making happens here on the tour, but it’s pretty cool. You see, inside these brightly colored pods are little beans. We all had a chance to take a little mallet and bust open the pods. Now the beans can be a few different colors due to the different types of cacao pods. Now if you want to learn more about that, go on this tour!
Doesn’t this just look cool? Well, we actually not only got to break the pods and separate the beans, we also got to try the beans. And yes, at first I was like oh hell no, I don’t want to try this weird slimy looking “bean” but, I did and it wasn’t actually bad!
I mean look how happy this made us! And please don’t mind my vacation hair… or the fact that I am also in between hair colors (I’m trying to get rid of my dyed hair completely).
When farmers in Central America discovered cacao they would make drinks with it. They would ferment the beans, dry them out, turn them into a paste and add different spices and mix it all up with water and drink it. And on this tour you get to try out a similar drink too! What’s even cooler about this, is that the ingredients are predominately sourced from the actual farm (yes, that even includes the cinnamon and other spices).
After touring the rest of the farm you get to head over to the main event and try the chocolate! Now they don’t sell all of the chocolate you get to try on site, since what they produce varies day to day. However… we tried some very interesting flavors like a Chinese Five Spice (SO GOOD) and the chocolates below:
Overall, I give this tour a 10/10 rating. Not only did I learn a lot about a food I love, we also got to interact with it in a way I would never have imagined to be so. If you ever travel to Kauai in Hawaii make sure to check this place out!