The southernmost district of Toledo is famous for its Mopan Maya villages and cacao production. Chocolate was considered a sacred food in Mayan society, available only for the elites. Mayan cacao traditions are showcased during the annual Chocolate Festival (Cacao Fest), held in Punta Gorda, the capital of Toledo, during the Commonwealth Day Holiday in late May. Visitors can learn about the origins of cacao, its use in Maya times, and try different cacao products.
In addition to lots of delicious chocolate treats and drinks, the festival features live music, drumming, various competitions, Belizean and Maya art, dance lessons, and many cooking presentations. Tours to cacao farms and the Nim Li Punit Archaeological Site are among the major highlights of the festival.
The Chocolate Festival was founded in 2007 by cacao farmers. There are hundreds of small cacao growers in Punta Gorda, mainly of Maya origin. Belize chocolate is of extremely high quality, and many of the growers are certified as organic. Cacao Fest is a great occasion to meet local cacao farmers and try some of the finest chocolate of your life.