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A chocolate lover's guide to the Caribbean

It's not just the cultivation of cocoa beans that makes the Caribbean the go-to destination for chocoholics.


The culture of chocolate, as well as countless unique brands, make every island here a new flavour to try. Just as each island in the Caribbean has its own distinctive identity, so too does each of these destinations have a rather individualistic take on the best ways to enjoy chocolate.


Although cocoa has been grown in the Caribbean since the colonial age, it's feeling a revamp today that, coupled with the islands' popularity with tourists, has led to a whole new era of choco-tourism. There's no better time to read some of our tips on where the finest chocolate in the Caribbean can be found.


Jamaica

They say that chocolate milkshake was invented in Jamaica, although accounts tend to vary.

While Irish botanist Hans Sloane was said to have taken the cocoa given to him by locals and combined it with milk and sugar in the early 1700s, many scholars reason that the locals would have taught him that trick from their own knowledge.

Either way, chocolate and cocoa alike continue to play a massive role in Jamaica's daily life. Confectionery of all shapes and sizes can be found here, although the venue that's been making plenty of waves is to be found in the island's capital, Kingston.

Specialist chocolatiers, such as Chocolate Dreams, have come together in recent years to take their artisan creations to new heights, including chocolate covered cherries dipped in rum, marshmallows infused with chocolate flavour or chocolate-coated coffee beans.

If you're holidaying away from the capital though, you can still get involved, because hand-crafted brands like these are appearing in ever more shops across the island as demand grows.

Barbados


Barbados boasts chocolate that's smooth and flavoursome, and that's partly down to the organic, Fairtrade and precise way in which it's both grown and produced.

In fact, one of the island's leading brand names in chocolate, Agapey, offers tours of its factory to show off just how seriously they take perfecting their sweet stuff. The factory is located close to Bridgetown, which also happens to be the location of the annual Barbados Chocolate Festival.

Recent years have seen Barbados flaring up with flavours, as every April the Chocolate Festival celebrates local chefs, craftsmen and even some mixologists. That means wines and cocktails alongside cakes and pastries, all flavoured with plenty of chocolate.

Workshops and demonstrations also ensure you can take some local tips home, as well as some locally made treats that promise to taste unlike any other chocolate around.

St Lucia

Even by Caribbean standards, St Lucia does chocolate well, not least thanks to the island's reputation for exquisite luxuries that also don't break the bank. Chocolate spa treatments, for instance, are a local treatment well worth getting involved in, with particularly sweet facials.

Some of the best chocolate factories in the Caribbean make their home on the island, making the most of their proximity to the cocoa plantations.

The great news is, tours of those factories don't just give you a chance to see how the magic happens. If you get involved in the Emerald Estate tour, you have the chance to get stuck into the leading chocolate laboratory on the island, hand-crafting a bar of the good stuff to take home.

Follow up those good times with some local jollities, from chocolate martinis to cocoa tea. You could also try the local legend that is Caribbean Chocolate Cake, but don't let the kids have any, because that's actually the name of one of the local craft cocoa beers.

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