Jul 11th, 2017
Turneffe Flats has long been recognized as a premier saltwater fly fishing, scuba diving and marine ecotourism destination. Located on Belize’s Turneffe Atoll, the largest and most biologically diverse atoll in the Caribbean, Turneffe Flats Lodge is characterized by superior service, beautiful surroundings, varied activities and is suitable for hard-core anglers, families and non-fishing guests alike. Ideally located on an isolated island overlooking the Caribbean sea, Turneffe Flats offers some 250 square miles of saltwater flats, channels, pristine coral reefs and a remarkably rich marine habitat. Anglers will appreciate the opportunity to target bonefish and permit year-round with opportunities for migratory tarpon in season (June – November). Turneffe Flats has been operating successfully for decades and continues to receive high marks and repeat bookings from our clientele. If you’re looking for beautiful accommodations, diverse fishing opportunities, excellent service and a pristine Belizean playground to explore then look no further than Turneffe Flats.
Expert interview with Fly Water Travel’s saltwater destination manager, Dylan Rose.
1. Turneffe Flats is a venerable, professional and detail oriented operation.
2. Good wading opportunities for bonefish.
3. Highly experienced English speaking guides and well-maintained equipment.
4. Combines snorkeling, diving, eco-adventuring and fly fishing remarkably well.
5. Turneffe Flats is a fantastic destination for anglers, families and non-fishing guests alike.
6. One of the best destinations in the Caribbean to catch your first permit.
Where is the lodge?
The lodge is located on the Turneffe Atoll, approximately 25 miles off the coast of Belize to the east.
How do I get there?
Guests fly into Belize International Airport where a lodge representative will greet you at the airport and transfer you approximately 15 minutes to the Raddison Fort George hotel in Belize City. From there guests typically board the lodge’s 54 foot dive boat for a 90 minute ride through the Great Barrier Reef and out to the Turneffe Atoll. Typical weeks are a Saturday to Saturday itinerary, although shorter weeks are possible if paired with a Saturday and a Wednesday.
When should I go?
Although the lodge is open year-round, peak fishing months are February – May and September through November.
Where do they fish?
Guides fish both the exterior ocean-side flats of the Turneffe Atoll and the interior lagoon side.
Who is best suited to visit this destination?
Beginning to intermediate saltwater fly anglers will enjoy Turneffe Flats, especially if they are joined by non-fishing guests. Advanced and well-traveled saltwater fly anglers that like fishing for single and doubles on the flats may find the fishery somewhat less technically demanding than some other destinations.
What are the accommodations and meals like?
Accommodations are comfortable and well-appointed. Nothing is over-the-top at Turneffe Flats but details are carefully looked after and the rooms are very clean and comfortable. Both private beach-side cabanas and private villas are available. Meals are hearty and very good with a blend of traditional Belizean cuisine and American dishes with copious amounts of fresh seafood.
Describe the atmosphere and style of the lodge?
The lodge is casual, comfortable, friendly and very relaxing. Guests dine together family-style with lodge staff and their lively bar is always a hot spot in the evenings for telling fishing stories.
Is the owner on site? If so who is it, if not who is the manager?
The owners Craig and Karen Hayes are often on site (spending much of the year living on the property) looking after the operation and entertaining guests. The Turneffe Flats management is friendly, attentive and does a great job of making guests feel at home and welcomed.
Is there internet and cell service?
Yes, the lodge does have a satellite wi-fi Internet connection available in the main lodge. Connection speeds are relatively slow compared to mainland connections.
What is the cost?
Please see the Rates and Details section of our Turneffe Flats Lodge web page for the current rates: https://www.flywatertravel.com/destination/TurneffeFlatsLodge
How do they fish?
Anglers fish two per boat with a single guide. The 17 foot flats skiffs are clean and well-suited for fly fishing.
What fish will I catch?
Good bonefish opportunities exist year-round. Permit are also available with migratory tarpon around in numbers from June – September. Also available are various jacks, snapper and barracuda.
How many fish will I catch?
Any time you hook double digit numbers of bonefish in a single day, it’s a great day. Permit can be one of the most elusive and tricky species in the world to hook on a fly, so if you catch even one, it’s a big deal! As well, migratory tarpon can be difficult to hook but the chances are good to encounter one during a week of fishing.
Is there wade fishing?
Yes, good opportunities to wade the flats exists depending on your desires and fishing goals.
How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds?
In general, runs to the fishing grounds are anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. In some cases if you wish to stay close you may find fish 10 minutes from the lodge or even on the home water flat directly in front of the lodge.
Do guides speak English?
English is the first language for the guides.
What are the guides like?
The guides are local Belizeans and are hired and trained directly by they lodge. In general, the guides are very skilled, good-natured and a pleasure to fish with.
Will we see other anglers?
The Turneffe Atoll is very remote as you have to pass through the Great Barrier Reef to reach the atoll from Belize City. You may see other anglers staying with you at the lodge while on the water but in general, the fishery is expansive and overcrowding is not an issue.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
Yes, the lodge does have high-quality rental gear available and a small well stocked fly shop on site. It’s a good idea to let us know in advance if you are planning on using lodge equipment. An angler could show up to Turneffe Flats without any equipment and be well looked after.
What is your favorite rod(s) for the trip?
Sage 8wt and 9wt Salt fly rods.
Are there other activities?
Scuba diving, snorkeling, birding and the popular “Atoll Adventure” program, which explores the eco-system daily with a guide are great activities that can be enjoyed at Turneffe Flats. They have a small pool and folks can walk their extensive property.
Are there special skills required?
Good casters that are accustomed to dealing with the wind will always excel in the saltwater but no special skills are required.
What are the physical demands?
There are no special physical demands for this trip. Anglers with good balance and good casting technique will do the best.
Dangers and annoyances?
Like most destinations in the Caribbean, mosquitoes, sand-fleas and biting black flies (mostly during the summer) can be a nuisance at times. It’s a good idea to bring bug repellent and long sleeves/pants for precautionary reasons.
Are there health concerns?
Pregnant mothers are not advised to visit Belize over concerns regarding the Zika virus. It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor and the CDC guidelines before traveling internationally.
The expansive lodge flat at Turneffe Flats
An aerial view of the Turneffe Flats property on the picturesque Turneffe Atoll.
Good opportunities exist for migratory tarpon from May through September.
The Turneffe Atoll features a mostly hard bottom on the ocean side allowing anglers good wading options.
Turneffe Flats is great for saltwater fishing enthusiasts or those just simply wanting some rest and relaxation in a beautiful environment.
There may not be a better destination in the Caribbean if you are in search of diving and snorkeling combined with flats fishing.
We consistently see more first-time permit catches at Turneffe Flats then nearly any other destination we work with.