Like chocolate? You might like working with cocoa farmers in the D.R.

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We all know that volunteer vacations is a growing trend. One company that's especially known for charitable travel is Reality Tours, which we've been writing about in our Real Deals section for a few years. Reality Tours is a program offered through Global Exchange, an international human rights organization founded in 1988 to promote political, economic, environmental, and social justice.

One of Reality Tours' new trips—a vacation to the Dominican Republic—caught my chocolate eye because it's themed around the Fair Trade cocoa industry. Called the Fair Cocoa Harvest, the 11-night itinerary is a small-group tour where travelers will learn about the benefits of Fair Trade cocoa, sustainable harvesting techniques, and Geotourism in the D.R.'s less-developed areas. Hands-on activities include harvesting cocoa and eating traditional Dominican meals prepared by locals in ovens powered by solar technology, among many other experiences.

The Dominican Republic, just a two-hour flight from Miami, is a popular island for beach vacations and all-inclusive resorts. This tour is an opportunity to see parts of the island you'd miss otherwise—and it's a chance to connect with and help local farmers who are often struggling to make ends meet.

From $1,400. May 26-June 6, 2011. Price includes accommodations, ground transportation and transfers, an English-speaking trip leader, entrance fees, and two meals a day. Based on double occupancy; add $200 for a single room. Can't stay for 11 nights? Reality Tours can accommodate shorter stays.


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