Tabasco  is where cacao was first harvested and chocolate first brewed. Although chocolate manufacturers in other countries have eclipsed Tabasco in terms of taste and quality, the state remains an important chocolate producer.
Traveling north on Highway 187, Finca Cholula (Carretera Comalcalco-Paraíso, tel. 933/334-3815, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Tue.–Sun., US$2.75) is located about 500 meters (0.3 mile) past the turnoff to the ruins. It offers an interesting guided tour of its finca (plantation) and chocolate factory.
The visit lasts about an hour, during which you’ll stroll through the verdant fields, filled not only with cacao trees, but bananas, coffee plants, tall shade trees—cacao grows best in the shade—and even bee boxes and cinnamon trees. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot some toucans or the resident troop of howler monkeys.
Next, you’ll visit the processing area, where the cacao seed is separated from the shell (which is composted and sold as fertilizer) and the sweet white fruit (used to make cacao liqueur) and then dried in the sun, toasted, ground up, mixed with cacao butter and sugar, and poured into candy molds.
There’s lots to taste and smell along the way, and you can buy various chocolate products at the end. Cacao trees produce fruit year-round, but the best time to visit is April–May and November–December, which are considered the peak harvest seasons.
If you haven’t had your fill of chocolate by the end of the tour, the Hacienda La Luz, often referred to as Wolter’s (next to the Tereno de la Fería, US$2.75), offers a similar, and equally popular, tour.