Monday, August 22, 2011

On the Wings of Butterflies

I’ve always loved the beauty of butterflies, and even selected a butterfly-inspired design for the white chocolate favors we gave to guests at our wedding. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to learn during our trip to St. Maarten that the island is home to a lush tropical butterfly farm offering tours to visitors who want to learn about and interact with these magical creatures.

After taking a cab from our resort to La Ferme Des Papillons, located on the French side of the island, Stephen and I each paid $14 for a weeklong pass, and then went inside to explore the garden and pond areas as we awaited the start of our guided tour. As we entered the large mesh-enclosed habitat housing hundreds of butterflies, flowers and plants, we were instantly calmed by the peaceful atmosphere as gorgeous butterflies of all colors and sizes flitted about, a few even pausing to rest on our heads, feet or (sunburned) shoulders.





Once our tour got underway, the guide led us throughout the enclosure discussing the different species that live there while also pointing out examples of eggs, caterpillars and pupae, or cocoons, many of which look like shiny jewels. She also explained that the mission of the farm, opened in 1994, is to conserve butterflies and educate the public about their fate both in the tropics and throughout the world, where many species are quickly disappearing as a result of such harmful factors as invasive vegetation, climate change and habitat destruction.

As she talked, I thought back to the days when I was a toddler and used to see butterflies all the time while playing at the park with my mom. These are in fact some of my earliest childhood memories, but today, I rarely see butterflies when I head outdoors, whether on the East Coast or West Coast.



This species features owl-like markings to dissuade predators. 



Giant moth -- I'd never before seen one this colorful or big! 
In an effort to promote conservation, the farm’s website offers advice about butterfly gardening and other ways to help support these creatures. All in all, this was without a doubt one of my favorite activities throughout the entire trip, and I couldn’t help but imagine how beautiful it would be celebrate a wedding at such a unique and inspiring location.

Up Next… Surfside horseback riding & snorkeling beneath the waves 

Travel Tip of the Day: When in the tropics, consider expanding beyond beach days and water sports when looking for fun things to do and see. Take the time to learn about the unique culture of the island you’re visiting, and check out its museums and nature sites, some of which may be more off the beaten path.

Do you love butterflies and nature as much as I do? What types of vacation activities do you like to focus on? 

7 comments:

  1. Beautiful butterflies! And good point - it's very rare to see them flitting abut in the wild today. My husband and I visited an ecological reserve in Costa Rica that we had to hike about one mile each way to get to - it was worth it because we saw tons of wildlife, including an iguana, tree frogs, butterflies and poison dart frogs. We also looked into a day trip where we would get to release turtles into the wild at the end, but it didn't happen for us.

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  2. Wow - OH SO BEAUTIFUL! We were just on a small ranch in Idaho where butterflies were prolific. Last week I posted "butterfly wishes" for my ailing mother in law with an amazing picture my son too. Yes - I really do love butterflies!

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  3. So beautiful!!!! My favorite spot at Rob's parent's farm is their butterfly garden, it's the busy hot spot of all the butterflies in the neighborhood.

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  4. So gorgeous! I love butterflies too, and it's great you got to see so many.

    That one that landed on your headband almost looks like it could have been part of the design of the headband!

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  5. they are pretty but for some reason I have this super weird fear of butterflies haha

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  6. These are the coolest shots HEather! It's so cool how th butterflies were so at ease with you!

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  7. butterflies! i'd always wanted to visit a butterfly place like this. how awesome :)

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