When you picture Grenada, your mind wanders to nutmeg-infused shores, bustling spice markets and plantain tree groves, but there’s also something to be said about Grenada’s abundance of organic cocoa.
Countries like Belgium and Switzerland may be world-renowned for their chocolates, but thanks to an increasing number of tree-to-bar chocolatiers, the self-proclaimed “Spice Isle” is swiftly becoming the chocolate capital of the Caribbean, boasting some of the finest chocolate producing methods in the world.
The Grenada Chocolate Festival
To pay homage to Grenada’s sustainable chocolate industry, Magdalena Fielden, Honorary Consul of Mexico for Grenada and avid chocolate lover, launched the island’s first Chocolate Festival in 2014. Sharon Bernstein, UK & Ireland Director of the Grenada Tourism Authority comments that she’s “the life force behind the chocolate festival, and fountain of knowledge for all things chocolate”.
The Festival was such a success, that it has since become an annual event, attracting locals and famous chocolatiers from across the globe to discover the aromas, flavors and interesting history behind Grenada’s pure cocoa.
Grenada’s Rich Chocolate History
Today, 70% of the world’s chocolate comes from West and Central Africa. However, in 1760 Grenada was in fact the largest producer and exporter of cocoa, after cacao trees were introduced to the island by the French at the turn of the century.
Until 1999, not one gram of chocolate had actually been made on the island. Visionary and environmentalist, Mott Green, set out to change this by founding The Grenada Chocolate Company, effectively spearheading the “tree-to-bar movement”. Instead of selling to the Grenada Cocoa Association for a fixed price, Mott encouraged Grenada’s cocoa farmers to get more value out of their beans by producing chocolate locally and in a sustainable way. Today, there are now five well established tree-to-bar chocolate makers, all of which are featured in Grenada’s annual Chocolate Festival.
What to Expect at the Chocolate Festival
Do what the locals do, and go cocoa-crazy in the Spice Isle during Grenada’s 9-day annual chocolate Festival held every May. Here, you will have the opportunity to delve into the history of cocoa in Grenada, along with learning the 8-step process of how their chocolate is locally produced.
For a completely immersive chocolate experience, Sharon recommends booking a session at the House of Chocolate or True Blue Bay Boutique Resort. Guests can enjoy a wide variety of events showcasing the exciting and unique ways of how cocoa and chocolate is used in food, cocktails, art, beauty and fashion.
Visit the different plantations and become a “farmer for the day” at Crayfish Bay Organic Farm, where you can get hands on experience about the tree-to-bar process. Sharon mentions, “Crayfish Bay vegan chocolate is a must try, as it’s roasted over charcoal fire, which helps to create its own unique flavor and distinct taste”. At the Belmont estate located in St Patrick’s, you can also participate in “walking the cocoa” and if you’re lucky, see a demonstration of farmers “dancing the cocoa”—a traditional dance where locals polish cocoa beans with their feet.
If you want to get your taste buds tingling, there’s plenty of chances to sample your handy work during cooking workshops and even get involved in chocolate tastings with Dr. Darin Sukha, Cocoa Expert from the University of the West Indies. Some tours also offer scheduled trips out to traditional restaurants to try chocolate-inspired dishes and chocolate-infused Grenadian cocktails.
Taking cocoa appreciation to another level, guests can join in on a group chocolate yoga meditation class. To really relax, we’d also recommend one of the festival’s chocolate massages as well. If you have time, head on over to Petite Anse Restaurant located at the northern tip of Grenada, for the best nutmeg and chocolate ice cream on the island, coupled with exquisite views of where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.
The festival also organizes fun activities like cocoa art rock painting classes and cocoa sack races. For the adventurous folks, Grenada’s Hash House Harriers arrange a chocolate-inspired hash run during the festival to enjoy some friendly competition amidst tropical rainforests and cocoa plantations.
In the evening, kick back and listen to the beat of steel drums on the beach where you can top your day off with chocolate piña coladas. If you’re looking for even more local experiences, one of Sharon’s favorite places to go is Dodgy Dock on Wednesday nights, as this is when all the street food vendors and top local musicians come together.
It comes as no surprise as to why this festival continues to draw in locals and worldly travelers to experience the best Grenada has to offer. For a unique look into Grenada’s deep cocoa farming roots, reserve your spot for the next annual Grenada Chocolate Festival, a place where traditional processing, chocolate tasting, and local flavor converge.
Step Aboard Here
Start your experience with The Moorings on land and sign up to receive e-mails from us about yachts, offers and destinations.