Costa Rica’s Enchanting Butterfly Gardens
A visit to Costa Rica’s enchanting butterfly farms and gardens is a wonderful way to learn about these mythological creatures that have captivated humans for ages. A symbol of freedom, beauty, peace and love, butterflies are some of the country’s most iconic animals – whether you fancy iridescent blue morphos, ruby-spotted swallowtails, or the translucent glass-wing variety. Believe it or not, nearly 20 percent of the planet’s butterfly species can be seen in Costa Rica; here are some of the best places to view them!
Spirogyra Butterfly Garden in San Jose
Have some spare time before your flight departs out of SJO? This might be the perfect answer for a relaxing escape within the confines of downtown San Jose. A modest fee of just $7 ($5 for kids) grants you entrance to a green oasis within the concrete jungle of the nation’s capital city, where you can observe some 30 butterfly species flitting about within the garden’s netted enclosures. The loop trail is easily traversed in less than an hour, and provides ample chances to unwind and enjoy nature in a beautifully-manicured park. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Monteverde Butterfly Gardens
A two-hour tour through this popular garden includes an in-depth intro to Costa Rica’s insect life, a peak in the butterfly rearing chambers, where caterpillars morph into winged creatures, and a leisurely stroll through the park’s four unique and climate-controlled gardens. Visitors are treated to more than 50 different species, and a glimpse of an enormous leaf-cutter ant colony, plus an informative explanation of the area’s medicinal plants. The guided tours are entertaining and educational (with tons of fun anecdotes and insect-themed jokes), and cater to both children and adults.
Morphos and more at Arenal EcoZoo
If one of your travel companions happens to be a budding herpetologist, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Arenal EcoZoo, which houses a butterfly garden, frog habitat, serpentarium and insect exhibit. Learn all about the butterfly life cycle and the important roles they play in nature on a guided tour of these verdant gardens before getting hands-on with resident (non-venomous) snakes, red-eyed tree frogs and other harmless creatures. Guests get to witness all stages of butterfly development while exploring this family-friendly Arenal attraction.
Butterfly Observatory at La Paz
Not to be missed is the mammoth butterfly observatory at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, situated in the cool climes of Vara Blanca – less than an hour from Alajuela. The garden — which is larger than a football field — breeds and houses 25 different butterfly species. In addition to the observatory, this ecological park offers miles of gorgeous hiking trails, which sidle next to towering waterfalls and escort guests to various exhibits, enclosures and gardens that shelter birds, monkeys, snakes and frogs. For those without their own set of wheels, tours include round-trip transportation, bilingual tour guide, entry fee and lunch.