Here is some information on Sarteneja, including lodging, from the Belize First Guide to Mainland Belize. It's not really near anywhere. You can drive there from Orangewalk Town, or take the new ferry across the New River at Corozal Town and go from there. You could take a boat from Corozal Town or San Pedro, but it would be expensive.
Belize First Magazine http://www.turq.com/belizefirst/
Getting to Shipstern Nature Reserve by driving up the Sartneja peninsula is half the fun. To get there by road, you must go all the way south to Orangewalk Town and turn left onto the road to San Estevan. The first part of the road is paved, but then it becomes limestone gravel and dirt. Itís usually well maintained and passable in all weather. About 12 1/2 miles from Orange Walk Town, the road forks. If you go straight, youíre heading to Progresso and Copper Bank (pronounced Bonk) villages and eventually to the Cerros Maya site. Instead, if you turn right, you will be going to Little Belize, Chunox (pronounced Shu-nosh) village, Shipstern and Sarteneja village. Little Belize is a Mennonite area and you can expect to see horsedrawn Mennonite carts on the road. To the left is the Progresso Lagoon, one of the most beautiful lagoons in Belize. At about 34 miles from Orange Walk Town, you will come to the Shipstern Nature Preserve. The entrance is at about Mile 36 1/2 as measured from Orange Walk Town.
A new ferry across the New River also provides access to Cerros and the Shipstern peninsula. The 90-ft.-long, hand-pulled ferry, made from an old sugar barge, carries pedestrians and four to five vehicles on a nine-minute trip across the river. It operates from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; at present, thereís no charge. To get to the ferry from Corozal Town, take the Northern Highway south toward Orange Walk Town to just south of Jal's Travel and Paula's Gift Shop. Turn left, and follow the road (and the power lines) for 2 1/2 miles to the ferry landing. When you disembark the ferry, you're about 2 1/2 miles from Copper Bank village, and about 5 1/2 miles from Progresso. If you donít have a car, you may be able to hitch a ride, or hail down a Venus bus from Orange Walk.
Shipstern Nature Reserve is owned by the International Tropical Conservation Foundation, based in Switzerland, with management by the Belize Audubon Society. The reserve consists of about 22,000 acres of saline lagoon systems, mangrove swamp, hardwood forests and savannah. Wildlife here is varied and abundant. Most of Belizeís mammals (except monkeys) have been found here, including the jaguar and the other four of Belizeís wild cats are present, though it is unlikely you will see one. More than 200 species of birds, 200 species of butterflies and 60 species of reptiles and amphibians have been identified in the reserve. A cleared botanical walking trail begins near the Visitors Center. At one time, Shipstern had an active butterfly breeding program, exporting pupae, but at present there is only a small education area with a few butterflies flying. Whereever you go in the reserve, taking plenty of bug juice. This area was devastated by Hurricane Janet in 1955, with many of its old trees blown down, but it mostly has been regenerated and the effects of the hurricane are not obvious. The Visitors Center and Butterfly Farm are open on an informal basis 24 hours a day. Donít expect a crowd, because few visitors venture this far off the beaten track. Look for a caretaker when you arrive. Admission to the botanical trail and butterfly center is US$5 (US$1 for Belizeans). For further information, contact the Belize Audubon Society: P.O. Box 1001, Belize City; tel 501-2-34533, fax 2-34985; e-mail [email protected]
(for in-season double without meals, including tax)
The Last Resort, a new spot at the mouth of Laguna Secca and the Bay of Corozal in the village of Copper Bank, has small thatch cabins with kitchenettes for US$17.50 double (if you book for a week you only pay for five nights), or US$12.50 in simple huts with outhouses. Operated by Donna Noland and Enrique Flores, The Last Resort also has a restaurant, with Belizean basics plus American-style burgers, and a bar. Tel. 501-4-12009, www.corozal.com/district/lastresort/.
AE, MC, V.
Dianaís Hotel has closed, but Fernandoís Seaside Guest House (tel. 501-4-32085) and Krisamiís Bayview Lodge (tel. 501-4-32283, fax 4-32247) offer clean, low-frills accommodations at low-moderate prices. Cabins at the Shipstern reserve may be available for US$10 per night -- contact the Belize Audubon Society at 501-2-34533, e-mail [email protected]