Villa Vanilla Farm
- Location : Villanueva, 11 miles northeast of Manuel Antonio
- Altitude : 640 feet
- Area : 152 acres
- Tours : 9:00 a.m. & 1:00 pm. Mon.-Sat.; 9:00 a.m. on Sun.
- Telephone : 2779-1155 or 8839-2721
- Entrance Fee : $45-$50
Inside the food forest at Villa Vanilla, a sustainable organic spice farm, succulent green orchids climb and crawl across low hanging trees. Long, thick green pods ripen on the vines, the product of dozens of hours spent hand-pollinating each precious vanilla flower so that it may grow into a vanilla pod – the only edible plant in the largest species of flowering plants on the planet, orchids.read more close
In the fertile hills above Manuel Antonio, Villa Vanilla cultivates vanilla, black pepper, Ceylon cinnamon, cocoa, turmeric, allspice and other spices. Farm owner, Henry Karczynski, has worked in agricultural development since 1975 and is experienced in organic farming, permaculture and companion planting – the use of mutually beneficial plants and microorganisms to promote crop health.
Vanilla is the world's most popular flavoring and second-most expensive spice – trailing only saffron – thanks to the painstaking fertilization process, which must be done by hand. Tours through Villa Vanilla farm focus on vanilla production and other spices like Ceylon cinnamon, cocoa and black pepper.
Visit the Epiphyte Trail, a picturesque path lined with air plants, such as the orchid. Sample delicacies created from the farm's crops, including cocoa nib cookies, cinnamon ice cream, chili-infused hot chocolate, and mandarin lime cheesecake. Finally, wind down at the spice shop, where organic vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and other edible souvenirs can be purchased.
Villa Vanilla tours are at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 pm. Mon.-Sat., and at 9:00 a.m. on Sundays; reservations are recommended.
Villa Vanilla is a working permaculture farm, with a composting area and spice drying station. Its spice shop offers unique souvenirs; choose from the farm's signature vanilla beans and extract, or consider some hot chocolate mix, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, black and white peppercorns, dried herbs, and other products.
Temperatures at Villa Vanilla average 75-90 degrees. During the wet season (May-Nov.), afternoon rains are common. Take an umbrella or other rain gear, and wear comfortable walking shoes.
Villa Vanilla offers pickup in Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Arriving from Quepos, take the paved road that passes the hospital and airport. At the gas station (La Managua), head east on the gravel road into the mountains. Drive through the small town of Naranjito and continue another half mile to the Y-intersection and veer left. Continue three miles to the town of Villa Nueva, and follow signs to Villa Vanilla.