Although access improvements in the Caribbean are painfully slow, Connie George just informed me that the St. Maarten Butterfly Farm recently installed a ramp. And to prove it’s really there, she even included a photo! Granted it’s a ramp by Caribbean standards, so the pitch is steep; but nonetheless it is a ramp. And once you make it up the ramp, you can roll through the gift shop and access the butterfly aviary.
Unfortunately getting to the ramp still presents some problems for most wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
The parking and drop off area is just a dirt patch on the main road. While it’s OK in dry weather, when it rains it’s a real mess. From the parking area, you either have to navigate over some broken concrete chunks or wheel through sand. Both options are quite a challenge, and most folks will require some assistance. Then you’ll encounter a dirt path, which is level but has some ruts in it. Again, a real mess if it’s wet. Finally you’ll reach a narrow concrete pathway which takes you to the dirt entry area in front of the ramp up to the gift shop.
Additionally, you need to plan ahead, as the bathrooms are not accessible at all. There is a two inch-step up, and the doorway is just 28 inches wide. It’s somewhat reminiscent of an airplane loo, minus the grab bars.
Still if you want to give it a try, Louis Jeffers operates tours in one of the very few accessible vehicles on the island.
In the end, it’s really is a beautiful island, and I’m glad to see at least a few access improvements there.