On this excursion you will leave the port and take a short drive to a demonstration area where you will be shown the Panama hat–making process. First, you'll see how the fiber is obtained from the Carludovica palmate plant, which only grows in tropical areas. Once the leaves have been harvested, the fiber is cooked in huge pots of boiling water to soften the material.
After drying the material in the shade, the hard work begins. Row by row the hats slowly take form. The finer the hat is, the longer it takes to create it. A super-fine hat takes at least three months to make and when it is rolled up, it will fit through a wedding ring! Once the weaving is completed, the hats are shaped, ironed, and fitted with a traditional fabric band. Lastly, you'll learn how the hats are rolled so that customers can take them home in a little balsa-wood box.
The tagua nut factory
From here you'll proceed to a nearby tagua nut factory. This versatile nut is used to produce a number of different eco-friendly end products – from traditional handicrafts to jewelry and shirt buttons. At the factory you'll see the entire production process, from drying the nut through to the final product.
Endangered traditional art
Lastly, you'll visit a cabuya plant-weaving factory. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience as this traditional art is, unfortunately, quickly dying out. In the past, a vibrant industry existed where and approximately 4,000 cabuya plant bags were produced per day in the Manta area. Today, only this last factory remains, producing 200 bags per week.
After a short demonstration of the process, you'll be presented with your very own entirely natural and eco-friendly cabuya plant bag – a unique reminder of this excursion and beautiful Ecuador, and the perfect bag for carrying groceries or other items of your choice.
- Language: English
- Not accessible for guests using wheelchairs
- Note: We recommend that guests bring cash (USD) if they wish to make purchses. In Ecuador, $50 or $100 notes are not readily accepted, so guests should try to bring smaller denominations. Travelers’ checks are not accepted.