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Savoring Costa Rica Tradition: The Story of Sugar Cane in Guanacaste

Costa Rica’s vibrant traditions and rich culinary history are reflected in the cultivation and processing of sugar cane, a key part of the Costa Rican heritage. Particularly in Guanacaste, a pioneering region in sugar cane farming, this practice has deep historical roots and contemporary significance.

vandara cultural tour, costarican sugar cane

Historically, sugar cane in Costa Rica started in peasant homes, serving both as a sweetener and as cattle feed (Bagazo). Small-scale sugar cane fields were a common sight, reflecting a subsistence approach to agriculture.

Today, sugar cane cultivation is a cornerstone of traditional agricultural practices in Costa Rica. Its role in the national economy is significant, contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), generating direct employment, and bolstering exports.


In colonial times, the Guanacastecan province was known for its rudimentary, oxen-powered,  wooden Trapiches (sugar mills) for juice extraction. This juice was essential in creating various products, including distilled beverages, granulated sugar, and the celebrated tapa de dulce. Tapa de dulce involved drying cane juice in wooden or stone molds, creating a sweetener for hot drinks or a treat to be enjoyed in small pieces at home.

Post-independence in 1821 marked the beginning of sugar cane’s industrial journey. By 1850, with the establishment of the National Liquor Factory, production saw a significant increase.

In Guanacaste, the “trapiche process” remains a source of regional pride, connecting Costa Ricans with their roots and the flavors cherished by their ancestors.



At Vandara we welcome you to dive into the traditional sugar cane process. Witness firsthand the extraction of sugar cane and the artisanal methods used to create various sugar cane products. This experience is complemented by the delightful taste of fresh,homemade corn rosquillas.  You’ll also have the chance to meet our beloved ox, Caramelo, a key figure in our traditional trapiche operation. 

Join us for an authentic and unforgettable journey into the heart of Costa Rican culture!


The Process of Making Traditional Drinks Based on Sugar Cane:

  • Preparation: Begin by cutting and washing the sugar cane.
    • Options for Juice Extraction:
    • Boil chopped cane to extract its juice.
    • Use a manual trapiche to grind the cane and obtain juice.
    • Serving Options:
    • Use the boiled cane juice to enhance coffee.
    • Enjoy the fresh juice from the trapiche, either plain or with a splash of lemon.

Experience This Tradition at Vandara:

Embark on this sweet journey with us at Vandara. Connect with Costa Rica’s heritage, savor traditional flavors, and create memories that will last a lifetime.