How to get there:
The farm is located in Oak Bluffs just off the Edgartown/Vineyard Haven road. Though most visitors get there by car or moped, it is also accessible by the number 1 bus, which goes straight from the Vineyard Haven ferry terminal. Just keep in mind that there's no specific bus stop; mention to the driver ahead of time where you'd like to go, then keep an eye out for the Island Alpacas sign just off the road on the right. To get back to the ferry terminal at the end of your visit, walk across the street and 'hail' the bus just like a New York City cab.
Entrance to the alpaca farm is $5 per person in the summer, and the rest of the year it's suggested donations. The money goes toward maintenance of the property and helps pay the staff, who are warm, helpful, and will totally make sure you don't leave without petting a baby alpaca.
What to do
When you first enter the farm, you'll walk past one pen of alpacas. These are the males, who are generally more social and interested in human visitors. Alpacas are quiet, peaceful animals, but you should let them approach you and not the other way around. If you do get close enough to pet one, pet the back of their head, neck, or ears. Do not touch the front of their face or move your hand over their head, as they see those moves as threatening.
Each alpaca sports a collar with his/her name on it, and some will understand their names and come when called.
After saying hi to the boys, you'll pass through the farmhouse. There isn't much here besides general information about alpacas and the occasional fun game like the "predict the birth date of the next baby alpaca" contest. From there, you'll walk down a hallway toward the gift shop, where you can pick up everything from stuffed alpacas to alpaca-head pencil toppers. All of the knits in the shop are made with hair from the farm's own alpacas and done in a safe, humane way. In the summer, the sweaters and thick socks often go on sale, and they're definitely worth it (we got mittens!).
The last, but most crucial, area you'll visit is next to the female alpacas. There are picnic tables here, so feel free to bring a snack (provided you keep it far enough away from curious animals, of course) or just hang out as long as you'd like. Farm staff will rotate through this area to answer questions or, if you're nice about asking, help you get up close and snuggly with one of the alpacas. The staff members will also know which alpacas like people the most and will relay tips about how to act around the animals.
The farm's hours are 10 AM to 4 PM every day of the week, which means you can spend five bucks and spend pretty much all day hanging out with cute animals. Just make sure you wear sunscreen and leave your dogs and cats at home.
[Photos: Lilit M]