The massive establishment of new plantations supported by the basic needs of a crop are technical approaches for an increased crop productivity. Water and decreased light levels by shade (i.e. intercropping) are considered basic needs of cacao plants, especially during the early vegetative growth stage. Thus, this study aimed to evaluate the influences of irrigation, intercropping, and intercrops on the performance of 39 cacao plantations at the establishment phase. The performance of each cacao plantation, after establishment, was evaluated and rated from 1 to 7 (1- poor; 3- satisfactory; 5- very good; and 7- outstanding) as a rating scale. In general, the results revealed that cacao plantations supplied with irrigation or under decreased light levels by intercrops (regardless of their nature), as well as a combination of these, made the plants perform better than those in plantations without irrigation and when plants were highly exposed to sunlight. The results suggested the importance of irrigation and decreased light levels by intercropping as prerequisites for a successful establishment of cacao plantations.