Sarteneja Belize – I love it here! From the moment we started walking around town there was just an air of peacefulness – possibly the most peaceful, tranquil and beautiful place I’ve even been. If you need to relax and just appreciate being alive, this is the place.
We’ve watched the sun set over the ocean and sat on a pier dangling our feet in the turquoise water while looking out at the seemingly infinite expanse of blue-green ocean, picturesque fishing boats anchored in the calm ocean. We’ve biked and walked all over town, sea kayaked up the coast, explored unexcavated Mayan ruins and a mangrove cenote and nearly the entire time, seen hardly anyone.
The people we have encountered have been incredibly friendly, travelers and locals. Most of the travelers we’ve met are on long journeys, not 10 –day vacations and I can understand why Sarteneja would get skipped on a shorter trip.
It did take us 2.5 hours on a dirt road in a school bus from the nearest large town to get here. (Although that would have been cut to 1.5 hours had the bus not run out of gas and needed to be refueled by siphoning from gas cans in the back of a pickup…). (If you’re planning a trip to Belize, know that there is also a faster, more expensive water taxi option, where Sarteneja is a specially requested stop on the Corozol to San Pedro water taxi route.)
We’ve been staying at Backpacker’s Paradise, which has been inexpensive, friendly and really well-run. Our room is just a bed in a little hut in the wood, but its been comfortable and at $14USD it may very well be the cheapest place two people can stay in Belize.
There’s no beach to speak of here but you can swim off any number of piers in town and the water isn’t very deep. You can expect a combination of a few rocks and some squishy mud when you put your feet down. Usually we’re told the water is crystal clear, but due to a cold front that came in just as we arrived, the water’s been churned up and milky, so we haven’t gotten to have the luxury of seeing what we’re stepping on.
The fact that the “ocean” here is actually Chetumal Bay and protected by a peninsula means that the water stays calm, no waves to speak of and little effect of tides.
For those who are interested in the balanced perspective – here are what we consider to be the negatives of Sarteneja. We were surprised to find a lack of availablility of fruits and vegetables in here, like almost none and we’ve certainly noticed an increase in temperature, humidity and mosquito density since we left the Western coast of Mexico.
Its a great place for a little retreat, but I wouldn’t stay too long – when we returned to the larger town of Orange Walk after 5 days, we were ready to have a little more going on.
Cool things not mentioned here that you should investigate should you find yourself in Sarteneja:
Manatee & Primate Rehabilitation Centre – you’ll need to make an appointment a day ahead to visit, but it’s well worth it, and Ed & Nathalie at Backpacker’s Paradise can make those arrangements for you.