I always like finding unique activities that are unlike any I’ve done before, so when I had a chance to stop by Lydgate Farms’s Chocolate Farm Tour in Kauai, I was beyond excited. Kauai is known as the Garden Island, as it has the most developed soils of any of the Hawaiian islands which provides extremely fertile growing conditions. This makes it perfect for growing chocolate, as it is also in that sweet spot range of 20 degrees north or south of the equator.
The most special thing about this tour is how interactive and informative it is. They fed our minds as well as our bellies! I went into the tour thinking of chocolate generically, like a Hershey bar, but it turns out, I left with the knowledge that cacao is actually a superfood containing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and there are so many benefits and variants of chocolate to enjoy. Really, there is so much that you don’t know about chocolate, so you need to take this tour to learn all there is and become a chocolate connoisseur for yourself.
The tour starts with an introduction to Theobroma Cacao, the chocolate tree. You get to see how the cacao grows on the trees and then taste the fruit that was pulled right off the tree in front of you. Now, this is where I’m sure you will have your mind blown. The juicy, sweet nectar around the cacao is sour and will remind you much more of a fruit than chocolate, as cacao is a fruit, after all. Then, the crunchy part within will remind you slightly more of the chocolate you’re used to eating…but not really. In order to become chocolate, it has to go through an epic and intense journey.
You see, to make chocolate, the cacao has to go through a fermentation process, (yes, similar to the wines you are used to). Whereas wine has about 200 different chemical compounds after fermentation, cacao clocks in at up to 600 when properly fermented! And here’s the sad part, our candy industry has lied to us. Hershey’s claims to be chocolate, but it only has 8% cacao in it and contains many artificial ingredients to make up for what it’s lacking. The nutrients and good qualities are effectively no longer existent. The range of amazing chocolates we tried from Lydgate Farms contained around 70% cacao. And it made me realize… I never thought I liked chocolate much, but it turns out I don’t like the candy chocolate that gets mass produced, I like chocolate the superfood, the good stuff!
This tour is filled with delicious tasting experiences, as well. You get to try 12 different types of chocolates from around the world as well as some delicious fruits and honey grown on the farm. The focus on nature and how things grow was really inspiring. Ecotourism is very important to us, and at Lydgate Farms, they give back to the land that provides for them. This only makes sense. If you don’t respect the land, it will stop performing for you. After all, there is a super sensitive ecosystem in Kauai that can easily get thrown off balance, so they focus on honoring it. I was fascinated to learn about this ecosystem and how they use all parts of what they are growing to give back to their land. It’s important to go out and do activities in nature and learn about the places you are visiting, which is why it’s so important to take this tour!
So, why should you visit Lydgate Farms for their tour? It was the first tour of its kind on Kauai. Their cacao won an award for being the top 50 best in the world! The tour guides are super personable and very excited about sharing what they do. They have a passion for helping the environment, supporting ethical work environments, and spreading the word about all things cacao. So, you learn a lot while also getting to eat a lot of delicious chocolate. (And since you now know that real chocolate is a super food, you don’t have to feel so guilty about it). Plus, it’s a family-owned and operated farm and has been for generations, and we think it’s so important to support family-run businesses.
Lydgate Farms also won a gold metal for their honey in 2019 (First Place People’s Choice) and grows vanilla beans, so you get to learn a little more about the other plants grown on the farm, as well.
I just skimmed the surface telling you about this amazing tour. Now it’s your turn to visit Lydgate Farms for the full experience. I think it will blow your mind and change your opinion about chocolate forever.