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Shipstern Nature Reserve – Sarteneja, Belize

Shipstern Nature Reserve is located in Sarteneja, a small fishing town in the north-eastern corner of Belize about 30 minutes away by boat from Corozal. It was established as a private Nature Reserve in 1987 and it covers an area of more than 27,000 acres of protected habitats, ranging from saline wetlands and lagoons to Yucatan tropical moist and dry forests.

Shipstern is also home to the Butterfly Breeding Center, which has supplied international destinations like Great Britain, United States, Japan, and Singapore with pupae for their own man-made butterfly habitats.

While they currently breed only 4 kinds of butterflies, when you enter the farm, you will be surrounded by hundreds of butterflies flying all around you. Of the butterflies bred here, my favorite was the Zebra Butterfly (pictured above). It has a beautiful contrast of pale yellow stripes over black that makes it pleasing to watch, especially in such a tropical setting they live in. In addition to butterflies, Shipstern also counts with over 200 species of birds that use the reserve and the Shipstern Lagoon as their protected home. Shipstern is also home to all five cat species of Belize and the endangered Baird’s Tapir, among other animals.

In addition to the Butterfly Farm, the Reserve also has a Visitor’s Centre, a Museum, a Botanical Trail that shows most of Belize’s native plants and trees, and a 65-ft observation tower that offers an impressive view of the whole reserve and lagoon.

This is a good half day trip to do when visiting the towns of Corozal and Sarteneja.