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A Short Guide To Sarteneja, Belize


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Jacintha Banuelos



Sarteneja, located on the northeastern coast of Belize, is a hidden gem that offers a unique and authentic experience for travelers seeking to explore the beauty and culture of this tropical paradise. With its pristine beaches, lush mangroves, and vibrant local community, Sarteneja is a destination that showcases the very best of Belize’s natural and cultural richness.


Unlike the bustling tourist hubs of Belize City and San Pedro, Sarteneja exudes a sense of tranquility and charm. This small fishing village, with its colorful wooden houses and friendly locals, invites visitors to slow down and immerse themselves in the laid-back rhythm of Belizean life.


What sets Sarteneja apart is its unspoiled natural surroundings. The village is nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the expansive Corozal Bay, offering breathtaking views of turquoise waters and stunning sunsets. With the nearby Shipstern Nature Reserve and the Rio Bravo Conservation Area, nature enthusiasts will find themselves in awe of the abundant wildlife and pristine ecosystems that this region has to offer.


But Sarteneja is not just a place for nature lovers. Its rich heritage and cultural traditions make it a fascinating destination for history buffs and cultural enthusiasts as well. The village has a unique mix of ethnic communities, including the Mestizo, Creole, and Maya, each contributing to the diverse cultural tapestry of Sarteneja.


Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the incredible marine life through snorkeling or diving, engage with the local community, or simply unwind in a hammock under the swaying palm trees, Sarteneja has something for everyone.


In this guide, we will take you through the best attractions, activities, and insider tips to make the most of your visit to Sarteneja. So grab your sunscreen and prepare to discover the hidden treasures of this charming coastal village.


Location and Geography

Sarteneja is located in the Corozal District of Belize, along the country’s northeastern coast. Nestled between the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Corozal Bay to the west, this small fishing village offers a unique and picturesque setting for visitors to explore.


The village itself is situated on a narrow peninsula that stretches out into the Corozal Bay. With its white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, Sarteneja boasts breathtaking views of the Caribbean coastline and stunning sunsets over the bay.


The geography of Sarteneja is characterized by its diverse ecosystems. To the east, you’ll find pristine beaches fringed by coconut palms and mangrove forests teeming with marine life. The calm and shallow waters of the bay are ideal for swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding, making it a paradise for water sports enthusiasts.


To the west of the village, the landscape transitions into vast wetlands and mangrove swamps, home to an abundance of bird species, including herons, egrets, and ibises. The mangroves also serve as important breeding grounds for marine species, creating an ecosystem of ecological significance.


Sarteneja is not only blessed with stunning natural beauty, but it also benefits from its strategic location. Situated about 2.5 hours north of Belize City, Sarteneja is easily accessible to travelers. The village is often included as a stop on the road trip between Belize City and Corozal, allowing visitors to explore this off-the-beaten-path destination.


Surrounded by nature reserves and protected areas, Sarteneja is also within proximity to some of Belize’s top attractions. The Shipstern Nature Reserve, located just south of the village, offers hiking trails through lush tropical forests, showcasing the country’s extraordinary biodiversity.


It’s worth noting that Sarteneja is a seaside village heavily dependent on fishing. Its location along the coast provides ample opportunities for fishing enthusiasts to indulge in their favorite pastime. Joining local fishermen on a fishing trip can offer a firsthand experience of their traditional way of life and a chance to catch some delicious seafood.


With its idyllic location and diverse geography, Sarteneja is a haven for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those looking to experience the authentic Belizean culture. Let’s dive deeper into the history, attractions, and activities that will make your visit to Sarteneja truly memorable.



The history of Sarteneja is deeply intertwined with the rich cultural heritage of Belize. The village has a fascinating past that dates back centuries and reflects the diverse influences of indigenous Mayan civilizations, European explorers, and Afro-Caribbean settlers.


Archaeological evidence suggests that the area surrounding Sarteneja has been inhabited by Mayan communities for thousands of years. The ancient Mayans relied on the abundant resources of the sea and the surrounding forests, establishing trade networks with other Mayan settlements along the coast.


During the colonial era, Sarteneja became a hub for European explorers and traders. The Spanish arrived in Belize in the early 16th century, seeking to exploit its resources and establish control over the region. However, their attempts to colonize the area were met with resistance from indigenous communities.


In the 19th century, Sarteneja attracted a wave of Afro-Caribbean settlers who were fleeing the aftermath of the emancipation of slavery in Belize. These settlers brought with them their vibrant culture, including traditions such as punta music and the vibrant colors of their traditional clothing.


Throughout its history, Sarteneja has remained a fishing village, with the local community relying on the sea for their livelihood. The village became well known for producing skilled sailors and boat builders who played a crucial role in Belize’s maritime industry.


In recent years, Sarteneja has experienced some changes due to the growing interest in eco-tourism and sustainable development. The village has embraced these changes by promoting community-based tourism initiatives that allow visitors to experience the local way of life while preserving the natural beauty of the area.


Today, Sarteneja stands as a testament to its resilient past and the blend of cultures that have shaped its identity. The local community takes pride in preserving their traditions, such as the annual Sarteneja Regatta and the vibrant celebrations during Lobster Fest, which showcase the unique cultural heritage of the village.


Exploring the history of Sarteneja provides a deeper appreciation for the cultural significance and the strong connection between the villagers and their environment. As you continue your journey through this guide, you’ll discover the various ways to immerse yourself in the history and traditions of this charming coastal village.


Getting to Sarteneja

While Sarteneja may be off the beaten path, getting to this charming coastal village is a relatively straightforward journey. Whether you’re arriving by air or by land, there are several options available to reach Sarteneja.


If you’re flying into Belize, the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City is the main point of entry. From the airport, you can either choose to rent a car or take a taxi to reach the village. The drive from Belize City to Sarteneja takes approximately 2.5 hours, and it offers picturesque views of the Belizean countryside.


If you prefer public transportation, you can take a bus from the Belize City bus terminal to Orange Walk Town, and from there, catch another bus to Corozal. Once you arrive in Corozal, you can take a local bus or taxi to Sarteneja. It’s worth noting that public transportation schedules may vary, so it’s advisable to check the timings in advance.


If you’re already in Belize and exploring other parts of the country, Sarteneja can be easily included as a stop on your itinerary. It’s a popular destination for those traveling between Belize City and Corozal or Orange Walk, as it offers a unique coastal experience away from the more crowded tourist areas.


For those who enjoy a more scenic route, you can hire a water taxi from Belize City or any of the nearby islands, such as San Pedro or Caye Caulker, to Corozal Town. From there, you can either arrange a private transfer or take a local bus or taxi to Sarteneja.


Once you arrive in Sarteneja, the village is relatively compact and can be easily explored on foot or by bicycle. If you prefer not to walk, there are also local taxi services available for getting around.


As you plan your journey to Sarteneja, it’s always a good idea to check for any travel advisories or updates, as road conditions and transportation options may change. Additionally, consider packing insect repellent, as the village is located in a tropical setting and mosquitoes can be quite common.


Now that you know how to get to Sarteneja, let’s delve into the various accommodations available to make your stay comfortable and memorable.


Places to Stay

Sarteneja offers a range of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s preference and budget. Whether you’re looking for a cozy guesthouse, a beachfront cabana, or an eco-lodge surrounded by nature, you’ll find a place to rest and rejuvenate in this charming coastal village.


For those seeking a more immersive experience, consider staying at one of the locally-owned guesthouses or bed and breakfast establishments. These accommodations provide a chance to connect with the warm and friendly local community, often offering personalized service and insider tips on the best things to see and do in Sarteneja.


If you prefer a beachside retreat, there are several cabanas and small hotels that offer stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Wake up to the sound of waves gently crashing on the shore and enjoy direct access to the beach for early morning walks or lazy afternoons lounging by the water.


For eco-conscious travelers, Sarteneja is also home to eco-lodges and sustainable resorts that focus on minimizing their environmental impact. These accommodations often blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings and offer a range of eco-friendly activities such as birdwatching, nature hikes, and educational programs on conservation efforts.


Whichever type of accommodation you choose, you can expect a laid-back and friendly atmosphere in Sarteneja. The village is known for its hospitality, and many of the accommodations are family-run, providing a personal touch to your stay.


It’s a good idea to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. Keep in mind that Sarteneja is still a relatively undiscovered destination, so the availability of rooms may be limited.


No matter where you choose to stay, you’ll find comfort, charm, and a warm welcome in Sarteneja. As you settle into your accommodation, get ready to explore the unique local cuisine and dining options that await you.


Restaurants and Food

Sarteneja may be a small fishing village, but it has a surprisingly diverse and delicious food scene that showcases the flavors of Belize. From freshly caught seafood to traditional Mestizo and Creole dishes, you’ll find a variety of culinary delights to satisfy your taste buds.


With its rich coastal location, it’s no surprise that seafood takes center stage in Sarteneja’s cuisine. You can indulge in freshly grilled fish, succulent lobster, shrimp ceviche, and conch fritters, all of which are prepared with the catch of the day. The local fishermen take pride in their sustainably sourced seafood, ensuring that each dish is as fresh as can be.


To experience the true flavors of Belize, head to one of the local eateries or street food stalls that serve traditional dishes. From savory rice and beans cooked in coconut milk to delicious Belizean fry jacks (a type of fried dough), you’ll have a chance to taste the unique combination of influences from Mayan, Creole, and Mestizo cuisines.


It’s also worth trying the traditional Mayan dishes that highlight indigenous flavors and ingredients. Don’t miss out on trying the tasty and hearty salbutes or the classic rice tamales wrapped in banana leaves.


For those seeking a taste of international cuisine, Sarteneja also offers restaurants that serve international dishes with a Belizean twist. Whether you’re in the mood for Italian pizza, American-style burgers, or Mexican-inspired fajitas, you’ll find options to satisfy your cravings.


As for beverages, be sure to sample the refreshing tropical fruit juices made from locally grown fruits like mango, pineapple, and passionfruit. And don’t forget to try the world-renowned Belizean rum that adds a flavorful touch to cocktails.


During your stay in Sarteneja, take the opportunity to connect with local residents and learn about their cooking traditions. Many guesthouses and restaurants offer cooking classes or cultural experiences where you can join in preparing typical Belizean dishes and gain insight into the local culinary heritage.


As you explore the flavors of Sarteneja, keep in mind that some restaurants may have limited operating hours, especially in the low season. It’s advisable to inquire about opening times and make reservations in advance, particularly during peak travel periods.


Sarteneja’s food scene reflects the village’s vibrant community and the cultural diversity of Belize. So come with an empty stomach and an adventurous palate, and get ready to savor the delightful flavors of this coastal gem!


Attractions and Activities

Sarteneja may be a small village, but it offers a wealth of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. From exploring pristine beaches and water adventures to immersing yourself in the natural wonders and cultural experiences, there is something for everyone in this coastal gem.


One of the main draws of Sarteneja is its stunning coastline and beautiful beaches. Take a leisurely stroll along the shore or find a secluded spot to relax and soak up the sun. The calm waters are perfect for swimming, and the nearby coral reefs provide excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving to discover the vibrant marine life.


If you’re interested in wildlife, head to the nearby Shipstern Nature Reserve. This protected area is home to a variety of bird species, including toucans, parrots, and herons. Embark on a guided birdwatching tour to catch sight of these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. You can also explore the reserve’s hiking trails and witness the rich biodiversity of the tropical forest.


For a unique experience, consider taking a boat tour through the mangroves. These fascinating ecosystems are teeming with life and offer a chance to spot manatees, crocodiles, and other wildlife. Glide through the calm waters as your guide shares insights into the importance of mangroves in preserving the coastal ecosystem.


For those interested in cultural experiences, Sarteneja offers a glimpse into the vibrant community and traditional customs. Visit the local artisan shops to see the intricate craftsmanship of wooden carvings and handmade crafts. Immerse yourself in the traditional Punta dances and music during local festivals and celebrations.


If you’re up for an adventure, join a fishing trip with local fishermen and experience their traditional way of life. Spend a day on the water, learning fishing techniques, and maybe even catching your own dinner. It’s a unique opportunity to connect with the local community and gain insight into their sustainable fishing practices.


Additionally, Sarteneja is a great base for exploring nearby attractions. Take a day trip to the Lamanai Archaeological Site, where you can discover the remnants of an ancient Mayan city and climb towering pyramids. Explore the Rio Bravo Conservation Area, home to jaguars and howler monkeys, and embark on a guided nature hike.


No matter what activities you choose, Sarteneja offers a serene and authentic experience that allows you to connect with nature and immerse yourself in the warmth of the local community. So pack your sense of adventure and get ready to create lasting memories in this coastal paradise.


Local Culture and Festivals

Sarteneja is a vibrant coastal village that proudly celebrates its rich cultural heritage. The diverse ethnic communities, including the Mestizo, Creole, and Maya, contribute to the unique tapestry of traditions and customs that make up the local culture.


One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture is by attending the various festivals and celebrations that take place throughout the year. The Sarteneja Regatta is a highly anticipated event that showcases the village’s strong connection to the sea. Watch as locals compete in sailing and fishing competitions, and join in the festivities with live music, food stalls, and traditional dances.


Another significant event in Sarteneja is Lobster Fest, a three-day celebration of the village’s fishing heritage and the abundance of lobster in the waters. Indulge in delicious seafood dishes, participate in beach games, and enjoy live entertainment. Lobster Fest is a perfect opportunity to experience the local cuisine, listen to traditional music, and connect with the friendly locals.


Throughout the year, Sarteneja hosts cultural events that showcase the traditions, dances, and music of the different ethnic groups. The Punta dance, a traditional Garifuna dance style, is often performed during these events, accompanied by lively percussion instruments. Visitors can witness the beauty and energy of these cultural performances and even join in the festivities.


When exploring Sarteneja, be sure to visit the local artisan shops and galleries that display the craftsmanship of the community. You can find beautifully carved wooden sculptures, intricate textiles, and other handmade crafts. Supporting these local artisans not only helps preserve traditional arts but also provides a meaningful keepsake of your time in Sarteneja.


The warm and welcoming nature of the local community makes it easy to engage with residents and learn about their customs and way of life. You might have the opportunity to participate in cooking classes to learn traditional Belizean recipes or engage in conversations with fishermen who can share stories and insights about their maritime traditions.


By being respectful and open-minded, you can have meaningful interactions with locals, gaining a deeper understanding of their cultural practices and fostering connections that go beyond surface-level tourism.


As you wander through the vibrant streets of Sarteneja, you’ll witness the pride and unity of the local community, evidenced by the colorful houses, the friendly smiles, and the vibrant celebrations. Embrace the local culture, join in the festivities, and create lasting memories of the unique cultural richness that defines Sarteneja.


Sustainability and Conservation Efforts

Sarteneja is not only known for its natural beauty and cultural heritage, but it also prides itself on its commitment to sustainability and conservation. The village and its residents have recognized the importance of preserving their pristine environment and have implemented various initiatives to protect their natural resources.


One of the key conservation efforts in Sarteneja is the protection of the nearby marine ecosystems, including the coral reefs and mangrove forests. Local fishermen have embraced sustainable fishing practices to safeguard the marine biodiversity, such as using traditional fishing methods and avoiding overfishing. They also actively participate in marine research and collaborate with conservation organizations to monitor and preserve the health of the coral reefs.


Sarteneja is located near several important protected areas, including the Shipstern Nature Reserve and the Rio Bravo Conservation Area. These reserves serve as critical habitats for a vast array of plant and animal species, both terrestrial and marine. The local community actively supports these conservation efforts through education programs, wildlife monitoring, and sustainable tourism practices.


Eco-tourism and responsible travel are also promoted in Sarteneja as a means to generate income while minimizing the impact on the environment. Many accommodations and tour operators in the village are committed to eco-friendly practices, such as implementing waste management systems, using renewable energy sources, and educating visitors about the importance of conservation.


The village also takes part in environmental clean-up campaigns to keep their beaches and surrounding areas free from pollution. The community regularly organizes beach clean-ups and encourages visitors to practice responsible waste management, including minimizing plastic usage and properly disposing of trash.


Education plays a crucial role in sustainability efforts. The local schools and community organizations teach children and residents about the importance of environmental conservation, and the benefits of protecting their natural resources for future generations. This creates a sense of stewardship and instills an appreciation for the beauty and value of their surroundings.


By supporting sustainable practices and conservation efforts in Sarteneja, visitors can contribute to the preservation of this unique coastal ecosystem. Respect the local environment, follow guidelines for responsible tourism, and engage with the community to learn more about their conservation efforts. Together, we can ensure that Sarteneja remains a pristine destination for generations to come.


Practical Tips for Visiting

When planning a visit to Sarteneja, it’s helpful to keep a few practical tips in mind to make your trip smooth and enjoyable. From packing essentials to local customs, here are some practical tips to enhance your experience:

  • Pack for the weather: Sarteneja has a tropical climate, so pack lightweight and breathable clothing, sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit, beach towel, and comfortable shoes for walking.
  • Bring cash: While some establishments accept credit cards, it’s advisable to carry cash, as ATMs may be limited in the village. Belizean dollars are the local currency, but US dollars are widely accepted.
  • Respect local customs: Sarteneja is a conservative community, so it’s important to dress modestly when outside of the beach areas. Be respectful of local traditions and customs, and ask for permission before taking photos of individuals.
  • Prepare for limited services: Sarteneja is a small village, so be aware that some services and amenities may be limited. Plan ahead and stock up on any essentials you may need during your stay.
  • Mosquito precautions: Bring insect repellent and consider wearing long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes tend to be more active. It’s also a good idea to consult a healthcare professional regarding malaria prevention if visiting during the rainy season.
  • Respect the environment: Sarteneja is known for its pristine beauty, so be mindful of your impact on the environment. Dispose of trash properly, minimize plastic usage, and avoid touching or damaging coral reefs and marine life.
  • Engage with the locals: The people of Sarteneja are known for their friendly nature, so don’t hesitate to strike up conversations and learn more about their way of life. Respect their privacy and customs, and be open to cultural exchanges.
  • Stay hydrated: The tropical climate can be dehydrating, so drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. It’s also advisable to avoid tap water and opt for bottled water or filtered water.
  • Plan ahead for excursions: If you’re interested in specific activities or tours, it’s advisable to book them in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. This ensures availability and allows you to make the most of your time in Sarteneja.
  • Be flexible and embrace the local pace: Sarteneja is a laid-back village, so embrace the slower pace of life and be flexible with your plans. Relax, unwind, and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.

By following these practical tips, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to Sarteneja, immersing yourself in the beauty of the coastal village and creating unforgettable memories.



Sarteneja, a hidden gem on the northeastern coast of Belize, offers a truly unique and authentic experience for travelers. This small fishing village, with its pristine beaches, vibrant local community, and commitment to sustainability, showcases the very best of Belize’s natural beauty and cultural richness.


From exploring the stunning coastline and indulging in freshly caught seafood to immersing yourself in the local culture and participating in festivals, Sarteneja has something to offer every traveler. The village’s rich history and cultural heritage, combined with its breathtaking geography, create a destination that is both captivating and serene.


As you journey through Sarteneja, take time to connect with the warm and friendly locals, experience their traditional way of life, and savor the flavors of Belizean cuisine. Engage in sustainable tourism practices, respect the environment, and support the local community to ensure the preservation of this coastal paradise for future generations.


Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or cultural immersion, Sarteneja is a destination that will leave a lasting impression. So pack your bags, embrace the slower pace of village life, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in this hidden treasure of Belize. Discover the charm of Sarteneja and uncover the magic that awaits you in this coastal village.