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Visitors to Puerto Rico — especially to San Juan — will be surrounded by the sights and smells of island cooking, which typically utilizes fresh locally grown ingredients. For travelers who have had their curiosity piqued by an amazing cup of local coffee, a slice of artisanal cheese or a piece of organic fruit, the next logical step is to visit the sources of these delights.
Carla Campos, chief marketing officer of Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), says that Puerto Rico’s agricultural diversity, paired with the increasing demand for authentic, local and cultural experiences among travelers, has created the ideal environment for the development of agritourism (also known as agrotourism) tours and facilities.
“The island’s ever-evolving food scene and unique culinary offerings place Puerto Rico as one of the most popular hot spots for foodies in the Caribbean,” Campos said. “Agrotourism provides a first-hand experience to visitors who are interested in learning about the harvesting and production process. Our guests get to enjoy a savory sample of our criollo (Spanish-American) delicacies made with a wide range of fresh produce, which is ideal for travelers interested in our local cuisine.”
Back in 2014, PRTC created the Agrotourism Certification Program targeted to suppliers offering agricultural activities, to create a win-win situation for local farmers and visitors. Clients who are foodies, or have an interest in agricultural techniques, can explore a variety of working farms throughout the island.
Artisanal Cheese and Agro-EcologyAt Quesos Vaca Negra, an artisanal cheese factory in Hatillo, visitors can take a guided tour to learn about the cheese-making process. The factory’s creations are made with raw milk from farms surrounding Hatillo. The tour — which also provides a look at the factory’s yogurt-making process — offers plenty of opportunities for clients to sample cheese and even make custom cheese of their own.
Plenitud Iniciativas Eco-Educativas lies in the western, mountainous region of the island. Here, custom tours are available that demonstrate Plenitud’s organic gardening, agro-forestry, and sustainable practices in general. Visitors can also add a yoga session or nature hike to their visit.
Coffee PlantationsHacienda Tres Angeles, located in the small mountainside municipality of Adjuntas, was the first site to receive agrotourism certification. The plantation offers a hands-on experience for visitors, where they can learn about the eco-friendly coffee cultivation processes and participate in selecting beans. After the tour, guests can relax with a cup of coffee and a fresh-baked cinnamon roll and gaze at the surrounding serene green coffee fields.
Hacienda Munoz in San Lorenzo offers tours of coffee fields that culminate in a freshly brewed cup of coffee in its Doppio Coffee Bar. Visitors also have the option of having a traditional Puerto Rican meal at Yiya’s Resturant or taking on the famous 10-pound burger challenge (offered to groups) at Amanda’s Wood restaurant.
Cafe Nativo, located in the mountains of Jayuya, produces 100-percent Arabica coffee beans. The farm utilizes solar panels to produce 80 percent of its electrical power. The farm has systems in place that roasts coffee beans the same day they’re picked.
Meanwhile, Cafe Lucero is situated 2,500 feet above sea level in the mountains near Ponce. This plantation also produces 100 percent Arabica coffee, with all planting done by hand, which allows them to maintain the highest standards. After touring the grounds and viewing the processing procedures, visitors can sit down for lunch accompanied by a cup of the plantation’s coffee.