Turneffe Flats, Belize
Belize’s Turneffe Atoll is the largest and most biologically diverse coral atoll in the Western Hemisphere and has long been recognized as one of the premier saltwater destinations in the world. With the opportunity to catch bonefish, tarpon, and permit on the same day, this is surely an angler’s trip of a lifetime. We will be both wade fishing and using custom-built Dolphin Superskiffs on the over 250 square miles of crystal clear flats accessible from the lodge. Craig and Karen Hayes and their staff at Turneffe Flats specialize in providing first-class service to small groups of anglers. We will be staying in modern, air-conditioned beachfront cabins that overlook the fishable flats in front of the lodge, where we will eat our meals. This trip is limited to 8 anglers and should fill very quickly. All connections from Belize City, ground transportation, food, lodging, guide fees, and equipment usage are included.
Cost: $5,290.00 + tax per person based on double occupancy. This includes all ground and water transportation from Belize City, all guide fees, lodging, and meals. I’m happy to help arrange your airfare to assure the best rates and arrival times.
Bonefish have been the primary target of anglers at Turneffe for over 30 years. They are plentiful and much easier to approach than those in the Florida Keys. Large schools are found on the ocean side flats with fish averaging 2 - 6 pounds. In the interior of the atoll, you will find larger fish in the sheltered lagoons feeding on the large number of crabs and shrimp found on the lush flats. Typically, we will access the flats in the lodges' 16 ft. Dolphin skiffs, then hop out in the knee-deep water in search of schools of fish. There are also wadeable flats just outside your door if you choose to fish early in the morning or the evening. For bonefish, I suggest a 7 or 8-weight rod. We will be using small shrimp and crab patterns, and you will usually not be casting farther than 35 - 40 feet.
Many anglers consider permit the prize of saltwater fly fishing and Turneffe is at the top of the list in numbers of fish. Permit fishing is done primarily from the poled skiffs as you hunt them along the mangrove-lined shore. The guides will spot the tailing fish and then position the boat for you to make your best cast. Permit eat crabs as well, but we will be using larger flies and permit are a hand full once hooked, so a 9 or 10 weight rod is a good choice. The size and strength of these fish will amaze you and you'll be glad to have that heavier rod.
Turneffe Flats is one of the few destinations where a saltwater "Grand Slam" is a real possibility for any angler. Tarpon are migratory fish and we will be on the Atoll when they are in the area. They inhabit the "creeks", channels, and lagoons in the backcountry and average 60 - 90 pounds. For these guys, bring your heavy artillery, namely, at least an 11 weight. Bonefish, permit, and tarpon are the primary species targeted by most anglers, but there are many others as well. Jack Crevalle are becoming a much more popular target species and can weigh upwards of 30 pounds. Barracuda are plentiful as well and are an exciting and underrated species.
A typical fishing day is about 8 hours, beginning after breakfast and ending around 5 p.m. - just in time for a cold Belikin. You have the option of taking lunch with you or returning to the Lodge for the noon meal.
Fishing is not your only option at Turneffe. The Atoll is also considered one of the top diving and snorkeling destinations in the world based upon water clarity, pristine coral reefs, warm water, and abundant marine life. Turneffe's divemasters and instructors are top drawer and will provide novice and expert divers alike with an experience that they will never forget. All levels of instruction are available and personalized service and flexibility are emphasized. You may want to take a day off from fishing and meet the fish on their own terms!
Ecotours and Mayan history tours are very popular activities as well. Turneffe's head Atoll Adventure guide, Abel Coe, is a Kek'chi Mayan who grew up in a Mayan village in southern Belize. Abel is well-versed in the history of the Maya in Belize and the traditions and beliefs of the Mayan culture. His knowledge and ability to share it is something special. Several Mayan fishing villages have been identified on Turneffe Atoll dating back to 400 A.D. Turneffe was clearly part of the intricate Mayan trade routes and artifacts from Turneffe indicate that they traded goods with peoples as far away as Guatemala. Belize is thought to have been at the center of the Mayan civilization, which peaked from 900 B.C. to 900 A.D. Today, Mayan people make up approximately 11 percent of Belize’s population with several villages still speaking one of the three Mayan languages as their first language. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about these three Mayan groups inhabiting Belize - the Yucatec, the Mopan, and the Kek'chi - and If you are lucky, you may run across a Mayan artifact or two.
Atoll Adventurers choose from a variety of daily guided activities led by Abel or one of our other experienced Atoll Adventure guides, all of whom are informative and fun. Turneffe's 25-foot canopied boat is at your guide's disposal for exploring the reefs, mangroves, creeks, and lagoons that make it the largest and most biologically diverse atoll in the Caribbean. Turneffe's warm Caribbean waters, extensive sea life, and vibrant corals make snorkeling a must-do activity during your visit. Our guides are masters at helping everyone feel comfortable in the water and beginners can learn to snorkel on our sandy shore before visiting the reef. With at least 60 species of birds at Turneffe, birding is another highlight. You may also want to tour the atoll looking for manatees and dolphins or enjoy an afternoon of kayaking. The Atoll Adventure program is very flexible and is tailored to fit the particular interests of each group.
There is certainly more than just fishing at Turneffe Flats and I encourage you to sample some of the other activities. All we ask is that you plan your activities as soon as possible to make staff scheduling easier. Please feel free to contact me with any questions that you may have. I'm happy to make suggestions based on your desires and experience.
**Anyone joining us on a destination trip is welcome to attend our Two-Day Intro Clinic or any of our Special Clinics free of charge.**