Making Coconut Candy: One of our Favorite Things to Do with Kids in Costa Rica

Coconut candy Costa Rica

Looking for things to do in Costa Rica? If you want your family to experience the local culture while on vacation in Costa Rica, consider learning to make chewy coconut candy. When our friends in Puerto Jimenez offered let our kids learn to cook this local treat, we jumped at the chance. 

I loved watching my kids learn new skills and try new foods (a rarity for us, unfortunately) so much that making coconut candy has become one of our favorite things to do on the Osa Peninsula. Making candy from plants that you find growing around a typical Costa Rican home…it’s a new and amazing feat for many children!

I’m no expert, but now that I’ve been witness to the process twice, I feel like I can share how OUR family makes coconut candy (with true experts on hand).

How to Make Coconut Candy in Costa Rica

Step 1: Find a ripe coconut. Don’t worry, they’re everywhere in Costa Rica.

Step 2: Play “rock, paper, scissors” to figure out who gets the first shot at breaking open the coconut by piercing it with a sharp stick that is buried in the ground and pulling really, really, REALLY hard on the shell. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Making coconut candy in Costa Rica
The first step to making coconut candy in Costa Rica is deciding who gets first shot at busting open the coconut.

Step 3: Kick the coconut around like a soccer ball for a while.

Step 4: Clean the sand off said coconut.

Step 5: Break open the coconut. This requires some skill, identification of the right spot to strike on the coconut, and then hitting it really hard with a stick. (Do not let your boys try this alone at home.)

Once your coconuts are cracked, save that coconut milk!

Step 6: Make sure to save the coconut water inside once you get it open!

Step 7: Shred the coconut. If you haven’t done this before, grating the inside of the coconut requires the right tools. They are sharp. Don’t let the toddler cut his fingers.

Grating coconuts
Grating a coconut is hard work, as these kids found out.

Step 8: This is the hard work part and the kids will quickly tire of it. The adults should get ready to spend some time grating the coconut. 

Step 9: Heat a pan over a flame. Add the shredded coconut, coconut water, cinnamon bark from the tree in the yard (or from a store if you’re not fortunate enough to have a cinnamon tree nearby), and panela (a type of locally found brown sugar).

Cooking coconut candy
Cooking coconut candy in Costa Rica. (Try saying that 10 times fast!)

Step 10: Simmer until it caramelizes into deliciousness.

Step 11: Send the kids to pick giant banana leaves for serving. Run them through the flame to soften and sanitize, then serve the candy in spoonfuls on the leaves. 

Costa Rican Coconut Candy
Sweet, chewy, amazing coconut candy made with ingredients from the land, and served on a giant leaf. The perfect Costa Rica treat.


If you too would like to have this awesome experience, visit our friends at Aventuras Tropicales on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. 

If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, check out our posts on where to stay in Costa Rica (there’s lots of different regions in this small country!), the top 20 things to do in Costa Rica with kids, and our tips for an adventurous family vacation to Costa Rica.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (where Kristin regularly mans the ship), Pinterest, or Instagram (where Suzi documents her life and travels).