Once upon a time... there was this small country village in the jungle of the Dominican Republic, where Jenny and Ryan came along for voluntarily sustainable development work. They fell in love with the place, purchased the land in 2017 and decided to start the Chocolate Mountain project in the exact same place during the Covid pandemic in 2020.
A sustainable cacao plantation with not just cacao trees, but also a lot of other vegetation, which they use in the homemade meals for their guests, and a wooden cabin where the guests can stay for the night. Chocolate Mountain is welcoming its guests since 2022.
This unique place to stay in Dominican Republic became a dream destination and above all a unique experience in the heart of the jungle between Puerto Plata and Santiago De Los Caballeros. Already more than 200 guests enjoyed a chocolate tour and/or overnight stay.
Jenny and Ryan have been working in the community for over ten years doing social projects such as aqueducts, latrines, health clinics, and continue to develop their initiative under the model of sustainable community tourism.
As Chocolate Mountain grows, they also make a positive impact on the livelihood of the rural townspeople.
Not just one Traveltomtom team member stayed in this beautiful place, but two! Traveltomtom himself stayed in Chocolate Mountain in April, Margot came for a visit in June.
On behalf of Traveltomtom she stayed at Chocolate Mountain and wrote this review blog about her experiences. The blog is supplemented with some photos taken by Traveltomtom as well. But as you can understand the Traveltomtom Team is a fan of Chocolate Mountain and sincerely thinks it is one of the most unique places to stay in Dominican Republic.
Getting to Chocolate Mountain is where the adventure starts
Chocolate Mountain is located on a hillside above the small country village of Rio Grande Abajo, in Altimera, Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. It is a real adventure on its own to come to this place, with crossing a river twice and going uphill on very bumpy roads. A 4x4 is recommended, but as you can see on our pictures: a Toyota Vitz did the job as well.
Must add is that it took Traveltomtom also twice to get up that last steep hill in a Toyota Verna just before arriving at Chocolate Mountain. It was a bit sweaty, but made it. It definitely was an adventure to reach Chocolate Mountain.
I have to admit that even with the perfect descriptions of the route I had received from Ryan, I managed to get lost (no no, don't start with the "blonde" or "woman" arguments yet ;) ).
But the people in the small country village are so sweet and helpful! So don't be afraid if the adventure gets a little too much for you. The people will help you.
Tip: if you're not fluent in Spanish, you can download Google Translate in your own language and Spanish. If the phone signal is not working because of the location of the cacao plantation in the jungle, you'll still be able to communicate with the locals, because they only speak Spanish.
It is recommended to buy a local prepaid sim card for traveling to Dominican Republic. Check out Traveltomtom’s guide with everything you need to know about staying connected when traveling to Dominican Republic.
Side note: there is hardly any phone signal up at Chocolate Mountain, but they have very good WiFi, which is working more than fine for those who prefer to stay connected.
Eventually it turned out that we had arrived from the other side then the directions were made for. After crossing the river twice as described, we were on the wrong side. Fortunately, Chocolate Mountain's neighbor came by on his motorcycle and was able to bring us neatly, crossing the river twice again, to our destination.
Chocolate Mountain is not just a tourist destination to go to if you're in the neighborhood of Puerto Plata. A lot of tourist who stay in resorts or hotels in Santo Domingo and Punta Cana will look the place up on Google Maps and will see that the travel time is approximately 3 hours (Santo Domingo) and 5 hours (Punta Cana).
Don't let this stop you from visiting Chocolate Mountain! The roads in the Dominican Republic are just fine (until you reach the small country village roads) and during the trip you'll see so much more of the country than just the perfect beaches.
Driving in Dominican Republic is completely safe and renting a car for 50-70 USD per day is very easy. Just to be sure you’ll get where you need to be: you can download parts of maps in Google Maps so you can still use it when the phone signal disappears.
You cannot leave chocolate mountain, without knowing everything about chocolate. Part of the stay at Chocolate Mountain therefore is the great chocolate experience, where you will learn everything about the process from cacao beans until chocolate bars.
The best part is that you'll make your own pure chocolate bar!
Everyone knows chocolate and most people will also understand that chocolate comes from a plant, but there is so much more going on in the process. First of all: there are many different species of cacao trees with all their own flavor.
Once the cacao fruit is ready to harvest, it goes through six steps:
1. First is the harvesting. With long sticks with knives on the end they can easily get the fruit from the tree.
2. Inside the fruit are the beans that you'll need for chocolate. You can also suck on the slimy inside of the fruit which tastes so sweet and delicious! The beans need to ferment before you can use them.
3. After fermentation, the beans need to get dry again, which will happen by drying them in the sun.
4. The next step is to roast the fermented beans. This will take about 15 minutes.
5. After the roasting you'll get a job to do on the cacao plantation, because your chocolate bar will not just be given to you! You need to peel the beans, which is a time consuming, but fun job.
6. The last step is to stamp on the chocolate beans with a big stick until it's a sticky paste. Put this paste in the freezer and there is your own home-made chocolate bar!
Taste the chocolate in a different way
Chocolate comes in many more ways than the ordinary Snickers, Mars or Twix bars. You can also use it to make very tasteful beer of it. The beer, La Cimarrona, is Chocolate Mountains first commercial product: a dark chocolate stout. It is named in homage of the original maroons, La Cimarrones, who were the first freedom fighters in the Americas. They successfully resisted slavery and lived autonomously in the Caribbean since the beginning of the colonial period. The dark chocolate stout is so delicious and a must try after a day of hard work on the plantation. Those chocolate bars won’t make themselves right. Cheers! ;)
Become friends with Jenny and Ryan
Jenny and Ryan are such a sweet couple. You can easily talk for hours with them about life, traveling the world, the Dominican Republic and much more. Jenny is born and raised in Santiago, DR, and Ryan is from the United States of America, having lived in the Dominican Republic for over ten years. Together they have a beautiful daughter named Marién. The second you meet them, it will already feel like you’re meeting friends you haven’t seen in a while.
At Chocolate Mountain I never felt like a stranger and that is all due to the kindness and hospitality of these lovely people.
Stay for the night
Once arrived at Chocolate Mountain, you'll be amazed by the beautiful cute wooden cabin La Choza that will be yours for the night. It has a queen-sized bed and a balcony with jungle view.
Watch the sky become a painting with magical colors during sunset, full of stars with cute fireflies during the night and the best view to wake up with in the morning.
The best way to book a night in this nature lodge at Chocolate Mountain is through Airbnb. Click on the link to see the availability on your prefered dates.
It will be an escape from the usual and the perfect place to disconnect from social media and connect with nature. Toilet and shower facilities are present, but just outside the cabin.
New to Chocolate Mountain is an additional Airbnb called Casa Guama, a private treehouse with views straight into the bush with ensuite bathroom.
If you prefer a little bit more space, privacy and luxury then you might want to consider booking this room instead of the Choza.
The best way to book a night in this treehouse at Chocolate Mountain is through Airbnb. Click on the link to see the availability on your prefered dates.
Go for a morning walk
If you're a morning person like me it's a perfect start of the day to go for a walk. You can walk in the village, but you can also go uphill to see the sunrise and the jungle waking up. You can go by yourself, because it's completely safe if you follow the water pipe to the reservoir. No need to worry about getting lost here.
Otherwise you can also choose to go uphill with a local guide. He does not say much but is very friendly! ;)
Time for breakfast
The neighbor of Chocolate Mountain is the sweet Dorka. She will make you a delicious breakfast in the morning. Fresh fruits, eggs, hot chocolate... all so tasty. Especially the hot chocolate is the best I have ever had!
Discover the colors, sounds, taste and smell of the heart of Dominican Republic’s tropical forest by staying on this cacao plantation, which is full of wonders in a peaceful mountain where dreams are made of chocolate!
Thank you so much for reading my review about my stay at Chocolate Mountain. I hope you got inspired to explore more of the Dominican Republic and the treat yourself with a stay in this cabin in the jungle, truly one of the most unique places to stay in Dominican Republic.
Staying overnight at Chocolate Mountain in the Dominican Republic costs around $160 USD, including breakfast, dinner and the cacao experience.
This travelblog was written by travel writer and Traveltomtom team member Margot van der Linde. She stayed at Chocolate Mountain on behalf of Traveltomtom and wrote this review about Chocolate Mountain and her amazing experiences at this dream destination.