Chuao: a stunning place with denomination of origin cocoa
January 1, 1970
by Diego Molina Granero
Chuao is a remote village located on the coast of Aragua, Venezuela. It is known especially for its cocoa, which is just one of the many blessings of Chuao because it also has a beautiful beach, wells, rivers, waterfalls and a centuries-old artistic tradition. In the following lines, you will learn everything about it.
Going to Chuao
Currently, there are two ways to make your way to this beautiful place, by sea or by walking. Most people take the first option: they embark by boat from Puerto Colombia (a town near Choroní, which also has many attractions).
Some pay for all the boats’ positions, while others do it only their owns, which is cheaper and allows socialization with tourists and natives.
In Puerto Colombia and Chuao there are no docks, so it is necessary to get your feet wet to get on and off the boat, but the boatmen kindly assist the passengers in this regard. Once the first are seated and with their lifejackets on, the motor of the boat roars and the sea crossing begins.
Forward and to the left you can see the immense green-blue sea and the coast to the right: first Playa Grande (also located in Puerto Colombia) makes its appearance, then you’ll see Valle Seco (which is great for kids and relaxing purposes) and, after 15 minutes elapsed between scares and laughter caused respectively by the jumps of the boat and corresponding splashes, you finally get to Chuao’s Beach.
Time to wet your feet again! Boatmen leave the passengers on Chuao’s beach, near Chuao’s River’s mouth, where the native’s boats are stationed. The river divides the bay into two: On the left, there is a concrete platform above which there are some houses and businesses, and if you continue down that road you’ll reach the terminal where the bus and trucks that go from the beach to Corte are located. Conversely, to the right extends the paradisiacal bay.
Chuao’s beach usually has fewer waves and undertow than Playa Grande, so it is better and safer for swimming. In the bay, there are food stalls where they prepare fish (the “Catalana” deserves special mention), seafood and “tostones” (fried green plantain) with salad, as it is usually prepared in most Venezuelan beaches. In some of these stands, there are “artisanal” bathrooms, beers are sold and music is usually played
Where to stay in Chuao
Also, some of the owners of these stalls offer to take care of the bathers’ belongings or the tents of those who decide to camp on the beach.
Camping at Chuao’s Beach
These restaurant owners do not charge any amount for this service, but they ask the campers to buy their food in the businesses of the first ones -which is a win-win. However, these caregivers don’t need to work too hard: the fact that there is no vehicular access to Chuao makes it one of the safest places in Venezuela.
By the way, many people don’t spend the night in Chuao but in Puerto Colombia or Choroní, but what they probably do not know is that in doing this they stop living a unique experience: those who sleep in Chuao, either camping or in an inn, among others things have the opportunity to witness Chuao’s beautiful sunset. In addition, once they wake ok they can have fresh calamari empanadas for breakfast in front of the sea at dawning… That is just priceless.
In addition, camping at Chuao’s Beach is a unique experience: being able to listen to the strong waves, see the sky full of stars, feel the strong breeze and bathe at night on the beach, while sharing with natives and other tourists is ineffable.
Staying at a Chuao’s inn
Chuao has a series of inns, some of which face the beach, such as Posada Chuao Mar, which is quite basic. Others are located in Corte such as La Luzonera and La Terraza del Morocho, which are not particularly luxurious but quite comfortable. They all have something in common: a place to shower comfortably and sleep in a sand-free bed.
To enjoy the Chuao experience properly you must go there for at least two days: during the first one you may enjoy exclusively the beach and in the other you visit the town and go to Cascada El Chorrerón (El Chorrerón Waterfalls).
How to get to Chuao’s town
You can go to Corte on foot or by public transport. Public transport? Yes, as you read, Corte has a bus and some trucks (and motorcycles as well), which were brought by speedboats from Puerto Colombia!
The journey from the beach to Chuao’s town by bus or truck lasts about fifteen minutes; on foot, approximately one hour. It is recommended to alternate these modalities: you can go walking in order to enjoy carefully the Hacienda Cacaotera de Chuao (Chuao’s Cocoa Farm), which, in addition to cacao trees, has saman trees, avocado, plantain, mijao and banana plantations. Then, you may use public transport in order to come back, even more so if you go to C El Chorrerón Waterfall, since this route is physically demanding.
Chuao’s Church and Athenaeum
Once in the town, you can appreciate its church, next to which is the Chuao Museum, where you can see handcrafted samples of the local culture. On the other hand, in the Church’s patio cocoa dries during the day and later in the afternoon this very same spot becomes Chuao’s Athenaeum, where children run around and shows like the Devils of Chuao take place.
Among those artistic expressions can it’s worth mentioning Chuao’s Devils, a tradition that is more than 300 years old and that celebrates the Corpus Christi on the ninth Thursday after Easter Sunday. Chuao’s Devils celebrate the triumph of good over evil and mock the “Evil One” dancing to the rhythm of drums, boxes, and maracas. They dress with sequins, lace, and masks painted in black and red white, adorned with ribbons that have Venezuelan’s flag tricolor.
In Chuao’s town, you can also buy cocoa bars and products made with this fruit: hot chocolate, puddings, ice cream and alcoholic drinks. Chuao locals take pride in their land’s cocoa, and with good reason: it is one of the three Venezuelan products that have a denomination of origin – the other two are Venezuela’s Rum and the Pecaya’s Cocuy.
Also, Chuao’s cocoa has been recognized as “the Rolls-Royce of all cocoas worldwide” by its special flavor and aroma, which is estimated to have to do with that place’s soil and climate, as well as the expertise with which the processes of fermentation and drying for this fruit are handled.
Pozo Copey (Copey Well)
At the other end of the town you’ll find Copey Well, which is reached by crossing a footbridge. In some parts of this well its water is deep enough to dive into it, but it also has flat places that will allow you to take a fresh-water bath in peace.
Río El Duro (El Duro River)
If you continue along this path, you can go up the El Duro River, which is surrounded by cacao trees, over a path that zigzags the river exactly 21 times and can be walked in approximately two hours. It is not excessively demanding, nor is it dangerous, but it is recommended to do so accompanied by a local guide.
This road culminates in the beautiful waterfall El Chorrerón, a 70-meter drop of water at the foot of which extends another well in which you can take a nice bath with pure mountain water. On the shore of that well it is customary to prepare sancochos (soup) Definitely a good option after so much physical effort!
La Ruta del Cacao (the Cocoa Route)
Finally, along this road, you may continue towards the Turmero-Chuao Path, also called La Ruta del Cacao (The Cocoa Route). This is the only other way to get to Chuao: walking. It is a mountainous route through which you walk about 23 kilometers and which, as is clear from its name, links the towns of Turmero and Chuao.