Jamie: We rented a van for 2 days while in St. Maarten in January, and stopped at the butterfly farm (although we did not go in). It is out on the way to Orient Beach (which is a fabulous beach to visit, one of the prettiest in the world in my limited opinion). I am told cab rides to Orient Beach are about $20.00 US, and this is not quite so far. I would suggest teaming up with some other cruisers and negotiating a price to go to Butterfly Farm and Orient Beach with one of the many van operators (big taxis) who you will encounter after coming off the pier. Or alternately, rent a car and do a little tour yourself--you can rent one off the internet for about $30.00 per day plus a few bucks for gas. There are a surprising # of rental agencies! We used the one opposite our Hotel (The Great Bay Beach Club) which is at the western end of Front St., the main street of Phillipsburg, where you land. If you have the time, and the inclination, this makes for a neat method of touring. You could get around the whole island, with stops to sightsee in both the French and Dutch sides in about 3-4 hrs, less if you needed to. Don't want to burst your bubble, but (in January at least) there didn't seem to be much to see at the Buttefly Farm. It is down a bumpy dirt road, kind of ramshackle, and has about the size of a good farmyard under netting. We did not notice any visible butterflies. However, as I said, I am not sure if there is a specific season for them. Don't let that stop you from investigating. Orient Beach is worth a visit, and it is nearby. Very "French Riviera-ish"). We loved St. Maarten/Martin--probably the best duty free shopping in the Caribbean--never pay asking price! People are well-educated, polite and not pushy, either. Have Fun!
We have taken a taxi to the butterfly farm. I don't remember how much, but it was not that much. The taxi driver was very nice. The butterfly farm is quite small - some people were disappointed. However, I thought it was nice. You won't spend more than an hour there. They are very good with kids there though. They took us through in small groups and had a person describe the butterflies as we went through.
It is close to Orient Beach, but would be quite a hike. May want to taxi from the farm to Orient beach as well. One side of the beach is nude, the other side is sort of nude. It wasn't crowded, and my kids didn't notice - they had fun. It is a nice beach.
It has been at least 3 years since we went to the butterfly farm, but I thought it was worth it.
The taxi driver at the pier wanted to wait until she had a full taxi but we said we'd pay her as if the taxi was full, so it can't have been too expensive. We made an arrangement for her to wait for us and then take us on to Orient Beach. It's easy to get a taxi back from the beach, and there are showers there.
Lots of good looking restaurants too, the one we chose was great, of course I don't remember the name