As if dramatic mountain peaks, quiet volcanic beaches, and endless summer weather aren’t enough, visitors to St Lucia visitors can also enjoy the fruits of the island’s 200-year-old cocoa traditions. In fact, the month of August is dedicated to the island’s cocoa industry, which dates back to the 1700s, and which still produces some of the world’s most sought-after chocolate. During Chocolate Heritage Month, the whole island gets in the sweet spirit of things. Cocoa plantation tours offer behind-the-scenes glimpses of chocolate production. Spas and resorts offer chocolate-themed treatments. And visitors have the chance to sample the fruits of this labour at St Lucia’s best restaurants. Here’s some of the best cocoa-centric experiences on the island – all available year-round.
Among the island’s 140+ cocoa growers, several estates offer specialized cacao tours, allowing you to learn about the history of St Lucia’s cacao production and participate in the process of chocolate making yourself. Our favorite plantation tour is of the Rabot Estate (owned by Hotel Chocolat) near Soufrière, the original French capital of St. Lucia. The setting of the Rabot Estate is stunning, as the Piton peaks rise dramatically from the Caribbean Sea before you. The natural beauty of the island from this elevation will take your breath away – even before your tour begins. Light filters through the canopy of banana and other protective trees, and the brightly-colored cacao fruits hang among the leaves like enormous golden gems. The leaf-strewn floor of the plantation crunches underfoot, but the atmosphere is serene. The tour takes you through picking, drying and roasting the beans before getting the chance to make your own chocolate bar. Delicious.
Pro Tip: Wear a sturdy pair of shoes for your tour, as the plantation is spread out over acres of rich volcanic landscape, making for uneven ground.
Chocolate Delight Spa Treatment
Spas all over the island offer cocoa-inspired treatments. From facials and massages to wraps and scrubs, you have your choice of exotic indulgences on St Lucia. Our favorite is the Chocolate Delight experience at Jade Mountain. Kick off your visit with a delicious chocolate-infused drink such as a hot cocoa tea, made from freshly grated cocoa sticks, then prepare for the ultimate in decadence. The sense-stimulating treatment sees warm and cool melted chocolate applied in layers to your skin while you relax. This process is designed to revitalize your body with chocolate’s anti-oxidant properties. The cocoa bean breaks down harmful free-radicals, stimulates endorphins, and adds minerals to the skin to balance and replenish the body.
Pro Tip: Make sure to taste the chocolates made on-site at Emerald Estate, the resort’s organic farm in the hills above Soufrière.
Dine out on Dessert
St. Lucia restaurants pay homage their chocolatey heritage in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Tangy cacao pulp is used in cocktails, sorbets & ice cream, while roasted cacao nibs have a toasted nutty flavor and are added to everything from pasta to salads. The richest, darkest Saint Lucian chocolate can be found in dressings, dips and desserts. The Boucan restaurant at Hotel Chocolat incorporates the cocoa bean into the entire meal, with dishes from Cacao Gazpacho to cacao ravioli. Meat lovers should head to Windsong at Calabash Cove (pictured right) for the pan roast pork tenderloin rubbed with chocolate powder, followed by their signature cocktail, the St Lucian Surprise, made with Baileys, chocolate and Drambuie. Who needs dessert!
Pro Tip: For an special chocolate experience ask your concierge about scheduling a tasting event at your villa.
Where to stay in St Lucia