thinking about the Dominican Republic

Every great idea was planted by a seed. And for Chocolatour, The Dominican Republic was the place that planted the seed for my desire to further investigate the world of fine chocolate back in 2009 while enjoying a holiday package to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

punta cana dominican republic has many luxurious resorts

Punta Cana Dominican Republic has some wonderful resorts.

That was a superb trip, and I’d love to go back and stroll that amazing beach again. But also to continue exploring the island, and visiting the cacao plantation where some of the finest cocoa in the world is grown.

cacao pods from punta cana dominican republic

cacao pods growing in the Dominican Republic

sustainable chocolate in the dominican republic

I first became familiar with Dominican grown fine chocolate when tasting the bars, bonbons, and truffles from SpagNvola, an artisanal chocolate company now based in Maryland, USA, but founded and operated by a very creative couple from the Dominican Republic.

The chocolate bars from SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier taste like they’ve just come out of the jungles of Punta Cana. So full of fresh fruitiness! On SPAGnVOLA’s site you can purchase a 3-pack of 70, 75, or 80% cocoa bars that are made from beans grown right on the Hacienda SPAGnVOLA Estate.

SpagNvola Chocolate

The bonbons are beautifully decorated and filled with exotic flavours such as Passion Fruit, Mango, and White Peach. And the pure chocolate truffles come in flavours that include Dominican Republic Rum & Raisin, Passion of the Sea Salt, and Jasmine Rose. All absolutely enticing!

I’ve since learned that there are several other great chocolate makers like Canada’s Hummingbird Chocolate that are making award-winning sustainable chocolate with cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic.

If you are passionate about fine chocolate and love to travel, a visit to the Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic is sure to satisfy on every level. Just ask the folks at your resort to help find a tour that takes you to a cocoa plantation. We took the one offered by Bavaro Runners and really enjoyed it.

And Punta Cana now has the Choco Museo chocolate museum which I hope to check out one day soon.

Have you been to the Dominican Republic? Did your visit include a stay in Punta Cana? Did you get to the chocolate museum? Have you eaten sustainable chocolate made with cocoa from the Dominican Republic?

I’d like to thank Air Transat for sponsoring this post about the Dominican Republic, an up and coming chocolate destination. Please rest assured that the information you find on this blog will always be impartial, whether it is in the form of a sponsored post, or the result of subsidized or independent travel. My job is to share my knowledge and opinion with you. Your job is to join the conversation, and share your own experiences and thoughts with us here.




Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

66 Responses

  1. Beverly says:

    The Jasmine Rose truffles sound delicious. The Dominican Republic has so much to offer.

  2. I’ve never been, but my parent’s are planning to go for their 30th anniversary this year! I should pass this along to them 🙂

  3. Beach + Chocolate = Perfection!
    Loved the inspiring idea to travel to Dominican Republic and discovered the mix flavours of chocolate and tropical fruits.
    Changing focus, we (me and my hubby) talked a lot about you on our last trip to Bohol Island in Philippines. They don´t have chocolate tradition there, but the do have a nature park with more than a thousand Chocolate Hills (a group of mountains perfectly shaped as bonbons that on dry season turn in brown color, looking like giant chocolate drops)… The landscape is delicious and unique, like a tasty piece of chocolate.
    Happy travels
    Natalie Deduck recently posted…Summer in Sydney – What to do?My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Natalie and thanks for your comment. And of thinking of me while in the Philippines!

      They actually DO have some good chocolate in the Philippines. And yes, I’ve seen pics of the “Chocolate Hills.” I’ll have to get there when I do the research for Volume III of Chocolatour.
      Doreen recently posted…thinking about the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

  4. I’m headed for the Dominican Republic in October…chocolate here I come!!

  5. I would love to go to the DR. I just watched a show on Househunters where the couple was buying a vacation home! It look amazing!
    Suzanne Stavert recently posted…A New Adventure! I became a spokesperson for Hospice TalkMy Profile

  6. Cathy says:

    We know people that go every year to DR for 3 weeks and always have a good time. Anywhere that is warmer than here, sounds like a superb place!

  7. When I visit the Dominican Republic I’ll head to Punta Cana and indulge in the SpagNvola chocolates!

  8. I’m sure it will be interesting for you to revisit the Dominican Republic at this point in your life. Especially if that is what inspired you to take on this wonderful chocolate journey. I hope you can return soon!
    Tracie Howe recently posted…Algiers Point – A quiet haven minutes away from New OrleansMy Profile

  9. I had absolutely no idea DR is known for its chocolate. It’s such a popular vacation destination, particularly for East Coasters, that I’m surprised there would be admonitions regarding personal safety. We hope to visit.
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted…Why You Should Visit KuantanMy Profile

  10. How interesting that this is where you started your chocolate travels, now so long ago!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted…Recipe for Tenerina Cake, a typical dessert from FerraraMy Profile

  11. Didn’t realize that chocolate was produced in the DR. We have never been, but would love to go.
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    • Doreen says:

      Just to be clear, the cocoa is grown in the DR, but the chocolate is made from the beans in the US. I will be profiling SpagNvola in the second volume of Chocolatour, so stay tuned for more! I hope you make it to the DR. It is a lovely island with something for everyone.
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  12. Chris says:

    I’d certainly never thought of the Dominican Republic and Chocolate as a package before (in fact most thoughts I’ve had have involved the island and Baseball)!

    Another insightful post and we’re just disappointed that it, along with most of the Caribbean has now been culled from our current trip due to logistical reasons…
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  13. Shelley says:

    I’ve never been, but the Dominican Republic sounds really appealing as I look out my window at the snow. The chocolate just adds to the appeal!
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  14. I’d love to do a chocolate tour in Punta Cana but my travel buddy hates the stuff! (I do well as he hands his to me often.) Fun to know where to find the good stuff.
    Elaine J. Masters recently posted…Finite – Save Just One RhinoMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Elaine and thanks for your comment. The interesting thing about chocolate travel is that it’s not just about eating chocolate. It’s about seeing how the cocoa grows and is harvested. How it’s processed to become chocolate, attending chocolate festivals and events where you can take in fun or decadent activities … and more!
      Doreen recently posted…thinking about the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

  15. Your timing of this post couldn’t have been better as we’ll be on our way to visit friends in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic at the beginning of March. As passionate chocolate lovers we’ll have to plan a tour to one of the cocao plantations for sure although I vote to sample some of the pre-made goodies too!
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted…Capturing Cartagena in PhotosMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Anita. Lucky you, to be heading to the DR! Do take in one of those island tours, where you can get to the farms and see how the crops are grown, and perhaps harvested (not sure exactly when their cocoa or coffee harvests are.) And yes, you can’t go wrong with SpagNvola Chocolate. It truly is one of the best I’ve had.
      Doreen recently posted…thinking about the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

  16. Pat says:

    Would love to go back to the Dominican Republic!!! We loved the beaches, the people, the weather, the coffee, rum – what am I missing? – oh yeah chocolate!! We flew Air Transat – it was our first trip with them and the crew was awesome!!

  17. noel says:

    What a wonderful place to explore and try some of these amazing chocolates and yes they do look so striking and well designed. Would love to sample some one of these days
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  18. Visiting a cacao plantation sounds like so much fun. I’ve never been the the Dominican Republic but would love to visit it someday. Not to mention that I LOVE, l-o-v-e, chocolate. Thanks for sharing!
    Annie Martin recently posted…The Colors of the SwampMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Annie, and thanks very much for your comment. Yes, I’ve found that having a theme that ties in travel from place to place really makes it fun. As chocolate is my passion (along with great food and wine!) it seemed like a great theme for me to follow. I do hope you’ll subscribe to the blog and share more chocolate travel stories with me. Cheers!
      Doreen recently posted…thinking about the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

  19. Doreen, my daughter chose the DR for her wedding. Lovely! We were never short of chocolate, but am not sure if it was a DR product. Need to go back and check that! 🙂

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Ursula. Caribbean weddings are amazing, aren’t they? When we were in Hawaii last year, and in Cuba previously, we witnessed many weddings. I know that many folks have chosen the DR as the site for their weddings and have been thrilled. I’m looking forward to a return trip.
      Doreen recently posted…thinking about the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

  20. Thanks for a great post. I love travel and chocolate … and yet have not been to Punta Cana. I’ve got to correct that, don’t I?

  21. Josie says:

    Hi Doreen,
    That huge cacao pod growing right out of the tree trunk is so cool and odd at the same time. I remember learning somewhere they can weigh 5 pounds! Is that true? It’s a fascinating topic — and hobby — and so fun, too.
    Wishing you safe and happy travels,
    Josie recently posted…Cordoba: Where Muslims, Jews, and Christians Once Thrived TogetherMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Josie and thanks for dropping by the blog. That is the way that cocoa pods grow – right attached to the trunk of the tree or its major branches. Those pods really do get large. The Peruvian ones I’ve seen are so far the largest. I didn’t weigh any of them, but would compare them to that of a pretty large honeydew melon, weight-wise, though more cylindrical in shape.
      Doreen recently posted…thinking about the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

  22. We have never been to the Dominican Republic before Doreen. To be honest, I don’t think either of us have ever even thought of going there. I’m checking out the Air Transat site right now. They have a lot of useful info on their site and of course, your photos always get me thinking about traveling.
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    • Doreen says:

      Thanks, Sherryl. I love encouraging people to consider visiting new places, and trying new flavours. Whether it’s chocolate,brine, or some dish that is new to you, travel enriches the soul and your spirit. Let your senses guide you!
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  23. Amanda Le Rougetel says:

    Would you ever consider tying in the theme
    Of human rights or labour relations
    To your trips, Doreen? Maybe you’ve done
    So in the past, I don’t know. It’s just
    That I sometimes ponder the justice of
    Westerners traveling to developing
    Countries and/or us enjoying the fruits
    Of labour of less privileged people. What
    Do you think? (Forgive the weird
    Caps – am typing on an iPhone).

    • Doreen says:

      Thx so much for your comment, Amanda, and for the challenge!

      When I get to Africa for my research of Chocolatour, I will definitely be including the issue of child labour into my writing.

      We must remember that in many developing countries, the fact that we as visitors spend a good deal of money in the places we visit really does help the overall local economies. Without us visiting, many of the local people would not be gainfully employed. That is why I always go local markets wherever I visit, and try to purchase local handcrafts and products direct from the artisan or grower. And always try to look for products that are marked “sustainable” and ‘fair trade” as that means that a bigger portion of the pie is fairly shared with the grower or creator of the product, and that the most environmentally conscious methods have been used in its production.
      Doreen recently posted…thinking about the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

  24. alison says:

    I’ve not been to the DR, but have heard such lovely things about it. With another foot of snow predicted for us tomorrow-can Air Transat beam me up?
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  25. June Hanchakove says:

    Doreen is one of the nicest person I know…..even tho I can’t eat chocolate I love reading about her adventures.

  26. I will certainly make it a pint to visit Punta Cana….should I start with the beach or with the chocolate?!!

  27. I’ve been to the Dominican Republic twice. Both times I stayed in Cabarete, but on the second trip spent a night in the Punta Cana area on our way home. I never took a cocoa plantation tour. That would have been fun.
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    • Doreen says:

      Thx for your comment, Donna. I’ve never been to Cabarete, but I hear it’s nice! We are so fortunate that we have the opportunity to visit all these places, aren’t we? It’s hard to believe that my mother never got more than 500 miles from her birthplace during the course of her lifetime.
      Doreen recently posted…thinking about the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

  28. Rachel says:

    Hi Doreen,

    I just looked at the Air Transat website, and did you know they fly to Amsterdam as well? There’s great chocolate here too! I’ve never been to the DR, but it’s on an extremely long bucket list. I’ll be nearby soon: Guadeloupe and Martinique.
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    • Doreen says:

      Hi Rachel and thanks for your comment. Yes, it’s quite amazing as to the number of places Air Transat now flies. And yes … Amsterdam is definitely one of my favourite chocolate destinations. The Dutch really love their chocolate! Enjoy your Caribbean holiday. I’ve not yet been to Guadeloupe or Martinique. 🙂
      Doreen recently posted…the need to rejuvenateMy Profile

  29. Linda Strange says:

    HI Doreen:
    No, I’ve never been to the DR, though many friends and relatives have been. I see their photos and comments on the beauty and warmth. And now – the chocolate. Would love to go especially now when it’s so blinkin’ cold!
    It’s so nice to have places you can get to directly from Manitoba, and the time zone means there’s no great adjustment to be made.
    I look forward to enjoying this next year of your chocolate travels.
    Welcome home.

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Linda! Yes, isn’t it great that we can get to some sun destinations directly from Winnipeg? It sure makes the transition easier, and reduces the travel time. By the way, I think you’d really enjoy the Dominican Republic. The beach at Punta Cana is truly one of the nicest I’ve seen. Cheers, and stay warm!
      Doreen recently posted…thinking about the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

  30. Hi Doreen, I haven’t been to the Dominican republic either. But the chocolate and sea salt sounds scrumptious. I love sweet and salty combinations. Rum and raisan sounds interesting too. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Sean Minor Wines Pinot Noir: #WineMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Susan and Thx for your comment. The good thing is that you can try the SPAGNVOLA Chocolate wight from home! You can order the bars online, and I guarantee you will enjoy it! But the beaches at Punta Cana are very enticing right now, as I sit here in Manitoba where it’s nearly -30C right now!!!
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  31. Catarina says:

    Reading about those chocolates and looking at the picture I suddenly crave something sweet. Don’t know why I have never been to the Dominican Republic not least considering that some of my friends have houses there and love it. Agree with you that you should include the island in your itinerary.
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    • Doreen says:

      Hi Catarina and Thx for your comment. Yes, the Caribbean is filled with beautiful islands, and the DR is definitely blessed with some of the finest beaches at Punta Cana. Really love and relaxing. I hope to get back soon.
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  32. Cheryl says:

    I have not been there, but I have a friend who has been there and she loved it. You do have to take care while you are there. You don’t want to stray from your resort.
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    • Doreen says:

      Hi Cheryl & Thx for your words of caution. Yes, it is true that the DR had had problems with crimes to tourists. It is mainly he Haitians, who have undergone such social and economic trauma as a result of recent natural disasters. Fortunately, the DR has its own “Tourism Polic Force” to protect visitors who venture out to explore the island on group tours. Agree that it’s not likely safe to go out on your own. But it truly is a beautiful destination that everyone should see.
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