Belize - Turneffe Flats Lodge

WCO Premier Destination - Turneffe Flats

Turneffe Flats was one of the first lodges WCO hosted a trip to many many years ago. What has always impressed us about Turneffe is the diversity of the fishing and the beauty of the environment. The flats are home to lots of Bonefish both in the lagoons and on the ocean side flats. It is also one fo the best Permit destinations in the world, we once had a group land 27 Permit in one week. That is not a typo....27 Permit in one week. While the fishing is terrific the diving and snorkeling is equally good. It is truly a saltwater paradise.

The people are also great. Owner Craig Hayes has not only built a terrific operation but has also done a terrific job of working to protect the reef and the sourrounding area both for the fishing but for the other critters that live there as well.

The Fishing

Bonefishing at Turneffe is done in a couple of different salwater environments. The Bonefish at Turneffe live both on the corral reef and also in the lagoons around the lodge. You can find fish on hard bottoms of corral and sand and also around mangroves. The Bonefish that live on the ocean side flats eat small Turneffe Crabs. There are thousdans of tiny little olive crabs that love in around the corral of the reef. This is why flies like Pop's Bitters are so good at Turneffe for Bonefish. The fish in the lagoons and on sand eat a conbination of shrimp and crabs but tend to be smaller sizes than you would use in the Bahamas. The schools of Bonefish at Turneffe can be enormous, as many as 500 in one school can be seen on the ocean side flats, they range in size of 1 to 3 pounds but there are always a few bigger Bones on the ocean side flats. Fish up to 8 pounds are on the ocean side flats. The Bonefish on the ocean side flats give the angler a great opportunity to fish with lighter tackle. We commonly use 6 weights on the ocean side flats. The lagoon has Bonefish as well and some larger fish for sure. There are fewer Bonefish and you get the opportunity to fish to single fish, which is what we really enjoy doing.

Permit in our opinion, is why you should go to Tunrneffe Flats. About anyway someone would want to fish for Permit exists at Turneffe. When you dream of Permit on the flats you typcially think of fishing to a large single fish, and that is our desire as well. This senario is common both in the lagoon and on the ocean side flats. If you want your chances of catching a Permit to go up fish in front of a couple hundred of them. We don't fish to schools of small fish or in really deep water on a wreck. We mean to a huge school in a few feet of water. The numbers of Permit at Turneffe can be as impressive as anywhere on the planet. We had one week that 27 Permit where landed and many more where hooked and lost. We fish in Mexico and the Bahamas often and there isn't a place where you can have a better Permit experience. It is also a very good place to chase that elusive GRAND SLAM.

The Tarpon fishing is good during the migratory times in the spring and summer. There are some very large fish during that time in the 100 plus pound range. There are also baby Tarpon around and some large resident fish that can be found year around. What we like about Belize is the chance to fish earlier in the year. January and February can be good when the Bahamas tends to get hit with cold fronts. You can have a cold front at Turneffe but it is rarer than in the northern Bahamas, for example.

The Lodge - Beach Cabanas

The beach cabanas are on the ocean side and feature a terrific view of the coral reef. There is also the opportunity to walk out in the early morning and see a Bonefish right in front of your room. The rooms are clean and very well appointed and of course air conditioned.Features Include: 2 Queen beds, air conditioning, large bathrooms, doublesinks, walk-in shower, Double sliding glass doors, Oceanfront veranda with a terrific view of the flats.


The Food

Meals are a delicious combination of Belizean and International dishes. Fresh seafood, local produce and home-baked pastries are standard fare. Depending upon your plans and your preference, you have the option to take a packed lunch or return for lunch each day. Following hors d'oeuvres and refreshments in the evening, dinner is comprised of soup or salad, entree and a delicious dessert.  Entrees vary among seafood, chicken, pork and beef and we do our best to accommodate special dietary needs. Our bar is located in the Lodge just adjacent to the dining area with plenty of open space to gather after a day of fishing, diving and adventure.

Pre-Trip Info

The following information will allow you to be fully prepared for your upcoming trip to Turneffe Flats.  Please read it carefully.  

Travel :  DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT.  A valid passport is required to enter Belize.  We recommend that you carry a change of clothing and your necessary personal items such as medications in your carry-on bag.  Although we have not had a substantial problem with lost luggage, this can help prevent some major headaches.  Keep the bottom portion of your Immigration Form, which you will fill out on your arriving flight. It will be used when you depart Belize.

Currency:   US currency is easily exchanged in Belize at a rate of $2 BLZ for $1 US, and you do not need to exchange money before leaving the U.S. Large US bills ($50's and $100's) are difficult to break, and we suggest that you bring smaller bills. Other currencies should be exchanged for Belizean dollars or US dollars prior to traveling to Belize. Turneffe Flats accepts MasterCard, VISA, and Discover as well as travelers checks or personal checks drawn on U.S. banks. Major Credit Cards are accepted in Belize City.

Arrival:  We ask that all flights arrive no later than 3:30 p.m. Upon arrival at Belize International Airport, you will pick up your luggage, clear Customs and exit the airport.  In case you need assistance with your luggage (a very short distance), airport porters are available.  As you exit Customs, a Turneffe Flats representative will meet you and transport you to the Radisson Hotel Marina. At the Marina, you will be notified of the boat’s scheduled departure time, which varies according to guest arrivals.  There is a restaurant/bar at the Marina for lunch or a beverage while you wait to leave for Turneffe Flats.  If for some reason you cannot find a representative of Turneffe Flats at the airport, please take a taxi to the Radisson Hotel.  

If your flight is delayed and you miss our transfer boat, you will need to stay in Belize City on Saturday night and catch our guide boat at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.  If the guide boat is full, you will need to hire a charter to take you across.  This will be at your own expense and Turneffe Flats can arrange this for you.  If you need help with Saturday night arrangements, please contact the island (220-4046) or the Reservations Office (888-512-8812).  Plan to be at boat with your luggage by 7:15 a.m. Sunday.  We will contact you Saturday night to discuss the next day’s arrangements. The cost of meals and lodging, and/or the charter in Belize City is not covered in your Turneffe Flats package.

Boat Trip to Turneffe:  The boat trip to Turneffe Flats takes approximately 90 minutes. You will travel through several offshore cayes, the Barrier Reef, across open ocean and then through the interior lagoon of Turnfffe Atoll to Turneffe Flats.

Meals:  We pride ourselves in providing quality dining complete with fresh fruits, fresh seafood and fresh baked pastries. Meals are served family-style in the main lodge, and are a tasty combination of Belizean and American dishes.  The coffeepot in your room will be prepared and ready to go.  A breakfast of fresh fruit, cereal, eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage and fresh baked goods is served from 7:00-8:00 a.m.  Lunch at the lodge, is served between noon and 2:00.  Guests will have the daily option of returning for lunch or taking a packed lunch.  Hors d' oeuvres and cocktails are served at 6:15.  Dinner, at 7:00, is the big meal of the day.  Entrees vary from seafood, chicken, pork and beef.  

Dress:  Dress at the lodge is casual and there is no need for formal clothing.

Main Lodge:  The social center for Turneffe Flats is our centrally air-conditioned main lodge, which includes our dining area and bar.  A pre-dinner gathering for hors d'oeuvres, drinks and conversation is customary.  The large breezy veranda is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the evening.  The gift shop is also located in this building.  

Guest Rooms:  Our accommodations include eight large cabanas located on the beach plus two large three-bedroom villas.  Our sea-side cabanas have a panoramic view of the Caribbean and Turneffe Atoll reef.   Our Reef Villa is located on the beach with a wonderful view of the reef. The Garden Villa, our newest and most deluxe accommodation, is set back from the beach but enjoys a fantastic view as well.  All rooms are air-conditioned and most are furnished with twoqueen sized beds. All rooms have private bathrooms.

Power:   Turneffe Flats is operated with diesel generators, which supply 110V/220V AC.  Generators run around the clock and are not within hearing distance of guest rooms.

Water:  Water is primarily supplied by rainwater collection and desalinization.  Our fresh water supply is somewhat limited, and we ask that guests conserve water when possible.  

Internet Access: We do have wireless internet access in our Main Lodge and in some of the closer cabins.  This services provides email and internet usage; however, our satellite-based bandwidth is limited and we are NOT able to support Skype or other VOIP protocols, instant messenger services, Youtube, video downloads, webcam, streaming video, IP  TV, IP based mobile phones or other applications that require large amounts  of bandwidth.

Bar:  Our bar is well stocked with at scotch, bourbon, gin, rum, vodka, tequila, vermouth and several liqueurs.  In addition, we have red and white wine as well as local Belikin beer.  Liquor, beer and drink setups are not included in your package price.  Individual tabs are kept, and you can check on your tab at any time during your stay.   

Lodge Expenses:   At the end of your stay, you may pay your tab with cash, travelers’ check, personal check or credit card – Turneffe Flats accepts VISA, AMEX, MasterCard & Discover. Tips are best paid with cash or travelers checks but if you wish to use your credit card, a 3% charge will be levied on that portion of your tab. Also, please remember we have a limited amount of change available at the resort.  

Belize Tours:  We can help arrange tours of the many points of interest in Belize either before or after your stay at Turneffe Flats. These arrangements are best made prior to your departure with the reservation office or through your booking agent.

If your outgoing flight leaves you with a couple of hours, you might want to spend them touring the Maya ruins at Alta Hun, visiting the Belize Zoo or seeing the Museum of Belize.  

Once “Her Majesty’s Prison,” the Museum  now houses Maya artifacts and other relics. Other Belize City points of interest: the Swing Bridge, Supreme Court Building, Government House of Culture and St. John’s Anglican Church, constructed in 1812 from bricks brought as ballast from European Sailing ships.

About 30 miles from Belize City, Altun Ha is one of the easiest Maya site to reach and explore. Settlements here date back to about 200 B.C.

As for the zoo, it’s small, friendly and unique.  It is home to Belize's  stunningly beautiful jaguar and other native species.

Tips:  As you are often asked about customary tipping practices, we offer the following suggestions for you convenience.  Tips should be paid in cash or with traveler's checks as the resort has a limited amount of change and we suggest that all tipping be done at the end of your visit.  Suggestions below are in US dollars.  

  • Fishing Guides: $50-$100 per skiff per day. For a shared boat this is $25-$50 per angler per day. For a private boat and guide, the tip can be adjusted accordingly..
  • Dive Staff: $20-$40 per diver per day.  This amount covers the Dive Master, Boat Captain, Dive Assistants and those filling tanks.
  • Atoll Adventure Guides: $20-$40 per guest per day.
  • Lodge Staff: $100-$200 per guest per week. This covers the kitchen, waitresses, housekeeping staff and baggage handlers.

Emergencies:  If you have an emergency, please call our Reservations Office at 888-512-8812.  The phone number on the island is 011-501-232-9022 but it may be difficult to contact the island directly after 5:00 PM.

Global Rescue provides the finest medical and evacuation insurance within the travel industry, Turneffe Flats recommends you consider a membership when booking the trip of a lifetime.

Global Rescue provides unparalleled emergency medical services and conducts medical evacuations from the point of illness or injury back to your home country and hospital of choice. In addition, a Global Rescue membership also includes 24/7 access to critical care paramedics, and in-house physicians backed by specialists from Johns Hopkins Hospital System.

Before traveling to Turneffe Flats, we recommend you consider a Global Rescue membership. If you have questions or would like to sign up please visit, or call Global Rescue at +1-617-459-4200.

Departure from Turneffe Flats:  After a light breakfast on Saturday, you will leave Turneffe Flats at approximately 7:30 A.M.  After arrival in Belize City, you will be transferred to the airport in our van. We can accommodate any departing flight scheduled at 11:00 a.m. or later. Your airline MAY collect a departure tax at check-in of up to $40 U.S. per person depending on how your ticket was purchased.  For guests with mid-late afternoon departures, we can arrange a half-day tour of a Mayan Ruin or The Belize Zoo with a local tour operator if you like.   


For more info or to book a trip at Turneffe Flats give us a shout. Chad has been there several times and can help you on the trip.

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