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“Great Diving” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Turneffe Flats

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Turneffe Flats
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Turneffe Atoll, Turneffe Island, Belize   |  
Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Turneffe Island
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Great Diving”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2008

My wife and I recently stayed here. The resort offers diving, fishing, and adventure packages. We did the diving package. The diving was fantastic. We are fairly new to diving (2 years) and have been diving in Maui (2 trips) and the Mayan Riveria. This was easily the best diving we've done. We had good luck during the week - 8 carribean reef tip sharks, 8 dolphins, several spotted eagle rays, nurse sharks, taurpin, black grouper, and many other great encounters. The dive staff is top notch. We did 3 dives every day, including a day trip to the blue hole.
The resort itself is also very nice. We stayed in a beach front cabana. The room was large (king and long single) and clean with air conditioning. The staff is very attentive and the food is very good.
One of the days had little wind and there were some bugs - I suggest bringing some bug repelent. As long as there was a breeze the bugs were not much of an issue.
The resort is very secluded - there is nothing else around. The only people you will see are the other guests and the staff. The only time we saw any other dive boats was on our trip to the blue hole. The maximum capacity is 24 guests - there were about 20 during the week we were there.
You can do full or partial weeks. It's about a 2 hour boat trip to get out to the resort. I recommend doing a full week, which is what everyone did, the week we were there.
I highly recommend this resort. Everything about our stay there exceeded our expectations. The reviews from the non-divers that were there the same week was also unanimously positive.

  • Liked — Excellent staff, very attentive, close to great scuba diving
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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180 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (45)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Bronxville, NY
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2008

My wife and I and our two children, 15 and 12, just returned from a week at Turneffe Flats. We had an amazing experience that we will all remember forever. If you are looking for a Caribbean destination with shopping, restaurants, room service etc.-- stop reading. Turneffe Flats is 30 miles off the coast of Belize on one of the four true coral atolls in the Caribbean. It generates its own power (AC runs from 4 pm to 8 am), has a rainwater-collection system and desalination plant for fresh water, as well as a gray-water system for toilets and irrigation. No phones, TV or internet. Actually there is a satellite connection available in the main lodge if you can't help yourself and are compelled to check the market or retrieve e-mail. This was a key part of my strategy-- I am always looking for ways to disconnect my family from their electronic tethers. I can say with confidence that for the week we were there, nobody missed Google, E-Bay, Facebook or deleting junk e-mail.

Turneffe Flats only takes about 30 guests, maximum. It is really about fishing, specifically the saltwater fly-fishing trinity of Permit, Bonefish and Tarpon. There is also fantastic snorkeling and diving as the atoll's reefs are the best I've seen anywhere in the Caribbean. We had an incredibly knowledgeable guide, a Mayan from southern Belize who knew everything about every insect, plant, animal, bird and fish on the atoll. He was diplomatic, sensitive and more proficient and articulate in English than any member of my family (I did not speak Spanish or Mayan with him but assume same holds true for these languages). We went snorkeling with him every day for 2 or 3 hours at different locations all over the atoll, and saw amazing coral and fish. Also crocodiles, dolphins, sea turtles, iguanas and many species of birds.

One day we took the "Discover Scuba" course offered by Turneffe Flats. The instructor was wonderful, and after a little work in shallow water learning basic skills, we were off to another part of the atoll for two dives in 35-40 feet of water where we saw barracuda, spiny lobsters, peacock flounder, garden eels and more. My kids were thrilled that they could enter this amazing world.

The fly fishermen (80% of the guests the week we were there) seemed delighted with their experience. I brought a travel spinning rod and caught several barracuda, some 3-4 feet, on the flats right in front of our room.

The food was delicious and Karen and Craig, the owners are wonderful, as is the entire staff. I started missing the place before I'd even left.

  • Liked — remoteness, animal and marine life, coral reefs
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Golden, Colorado
Level Contributor
37 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2007

We first learned of TFlats from an ad in a dive magazine. But make no mistake, this is forst and foremost a fly fishing resort. When we were there, the guests consisted of 3 divers and about 25 fishers. We were treated very well, but felt a little like we didn't quite fit in.

The room was nice well-appointed. Hot water was a bit hard to come by, but that is really the only complaint about the facility The food was very good, which is important because there's nowhere else to go.

Because there were only 3 divers, we were in a small boat all week, which was still quite comfortable most days. we did 3 dives a day for 6 days. Captain Frank and Divemaster Emerick were very solicitous of our requests.

There is nothing to do here except fish, or dive or sit around. We did do their "atoll adventure" one afternoon, which was nothing but boating around the lagoon looking for critters. Not very adventurous in our book.

The biggest downside was the biting bugs when the wind was calm. Take plenty of spray!

  • Liked — Total immersion in an isolated location
  • Disliked — Not enough hot water
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, WA
Level Contributor
40 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 9, 2007

We did our first tropical fishing trip to Turneffe Flats Lodge (tflats.com) in late Sept 2007. We were experienced fly fishermen, but had never fished for Bonefish, Permit, or Tarpon. We hoped to find Bonefish there and learn about tropical fishing. We were very pleasantly surprised to find that all three were available.

The area is interesting because the guides know easy & hard ways to fish & catch. Some of the guides don't like to do it the easy way, but you should ask your guide to explain your options early in the week and decide for yourself how you'd like to fish. Ask them about going to the Elbow when conditions are calm, which is deep water fishing, but sometimes there were huge schools of fish at the surface.

You could catch as many bonefish as you wanted. Most are 2-3 lbs but some are 4-5 and a few are up to 8 lbs. Fishing the flats is the hardest but most rewarding because you have to spot them, cast well, and those fish really know how to run & fight. Fishing from boats was the easiest if you found a content school. One person hooked a 160# tarpon but couldn't get it to the boat. Permit were elusive most of the week except for one day where a large school showed up.

We brought most of our own equipment. They did have reasonable looking rental gear. You must bring wading shoes with a hard insert that you can't penetrate with a needle-sharp piece of coral - very few boots have this. I bought expensive diving boots and they didn't meet standards. Others brought expensive fishing wading shoes but they were also without hard inserts. You can rent theirs for $8/day but some are in very bad condition. Neoprene socks that keep coral out of your toes is a great item.

They do have flies in the shop but the guides don't get to choose them so we didn't end up using hardly any. We wish we had brought more flies, especially a bigger variety of light, light w/weed guards, and heavy flies. Gotchas were our most important fly for bonefish.

We worried about the weather. Fortunately we avoided the two hurricanes earlier in Sept, but I'd probably avoid booking anything in early Sept to be safe. Conch season opens sometime in early Oct which could be bad because lots of people are there harvesting, but at least you could have some at dinner. We did have a couple occasions where we got soaked but overall we were pleased. The last evening the remnants of a hurricane passed through.

The main reason we went there at that time was the offer 2-1 pricing. It's not really 2-1 because that's off the single rate. It's really about 30% off but still good - $2300pp vs about $3000pp elsewhere.

The rooms are about equivalent to two-star hotels. You get AC from 4PM-8AM and that worked fine. Tiny ants were a problem if you spilled any foods or liquids. The humidity is hard to fight in the bathrooms - be prepared for some musty odors. The lodge is three star and a great place to hang out with all day AC and a well stocked soda & liquor bar.

They have WiFi in the lodge. Some rooms could receive it but not all. They also have satellite TV. Calling home is expensive - about $1/minute. I tried using Skype but it doesn't work well because the upstream bandwidth is only about 100kbps and there's a delay due to the satellite.

Some of the smart people brought their own liquor - drinks aren't cheap.

Overall it was an excellent trip. Turneffe Flats is definately the premier fishing resort at Turneffe, and I did do one dive with them that was good. The fishing exceeded our expectations. The lodging was certainly better than we usually get for fishing, but it's not as good as you'd get in Hawaii or the states. For the price we paid it was a bargain and we'd do it again.

  • Liked — Right on the water
  • Disliked — musty bathrooms
  • Stayed September 2007, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoenix
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2007

We spent a week at Turneffe Flats at the end of June. There were eight in our group scuba diving, the balance of the guests were fisherman. This made for a spacious diving experience both on the boat and under the water.

The reefs were beautiful - enormous barrel sponges, colorful soft corals, and lots of fish. We saw a number of Oceanic whitetip sharks along with Bull sharks on our dive at the Blue Hole. Emric, our divemaster, was incredibly knowledgeable about the reefs and was helpful in indentifying various marine life for us, even down to the smallest and most interesting of critters.

Michael and Femke were wonderful hosts, and saw to our every need & concern. Any issues that cropped up were minor ones, and the staff was prompt and courteous in seeing to them.

The only constructive criticism our group had was that we occasionally did not have sufficient amounts of food for divers on our boat (hey, scuba diving works up a BIG appetite!).

Six of us shared the reef villa. Each of the 3 bedrooms had a private bath. It was more than spacious enough. A small refrigerator in the kitchenette was useful for keeping beverages cold. The views out onto the reef were incredible. The sunsets were breathtaking. Our stay at Turneffe was one of the most enjoyable vacations ever.

  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SF Bay Area, CA
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 3, 2007

This lodge is simple but a terrific location for diving! Good food, nice staff, great guests and beautiful water (80 degrees at depth-more than 100 ft. visibility). More guests were fishing during our stay, than diving. Each morning we went for a two tank dive and one after lunch. We stayed on the boat for lunch rather than return to the lodge. Sandwich/salad orders were taken the night before and custom made. All bread was freshly baked, as were cookies! Most staff members have been there many years.
Resort has three boats they use for diving: large, medium and small. The large boat was not available most of our visit, due to maintenance issues. Wireless internet available in the lodge, not in the bungalows. It is slow, but it works. To make phone calls-one must purchase a phone card (international) or bring one (recommend this!), to use the one phone in the lodge/office area available to the guests.

  • Liked — Great location for diving
  • Disliked — Out-of-the-way
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
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CA
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2006

My wife and I just returned from our second visit to Turneffe Flats (TF) and the second visit was just as outstanding as the first. We have been to Belize 8 or 9 times, and our experiences at TF have been our best.

Why do we like TF so much?
1. It is located in Turneffe Atoll, where you will experience the best diving in Belize without a long boat ride from Belize City or Ambergris Caye (San Pedro). Lighthouse Reef (location of the famous Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye) are within an hour boat ride of TF. Each time we have been to TF, we have spent one day diving/exploring Lighthouse reef.
2. Lots of personal attention for divers and non-divers. During our first visit, we had 6 divers on the boat (a Pro 48) and during our second visit we had 2 divers. No large crowds here. The boat captain and the dive master were excellent. They do everything for you, including loading, unloading, and washing all your gear. My wife is a non-diver, so she chose the Atoll Adventure (AA) package. Together with 1-3 other guests, they snorkeled and explored the area. Abel, the guide who leads the AA group is very knowledgeable and customer focused. My wife loves not having to sit on the beach while I dive, there is always something for her to do, and it is all included in the package.
3. If you are a fisherman, TF is considered one of the premier fishing lodges in the world. I personally have not fished there, but it was obvious that the fishermen were well taken care of by top notch guides.
4. All the staff at TF is excellent. The owner-operators, Craig and Karen are very hands-on and have developed a group of long-term employees that are very loyal and good at what they do. It feels like you are with family, not at a hotel. You eat all your meals in a communal dining area and it really feels like you are at an adult summer camp with family.
5. TF is very serious about environmental protection, which is not true for all of the lodges in the area. They sponsor a non-profit designed to study and preserve the atoll.
6. The food is absolutely outstanding, something that is usually not true at all-inclusive resorts. My wife is a vegetarian, and they always accomodated her special requests. Evening appetizers are a big hit as you sit around and compare notes from the day's activities, drink a Belikin beer or the night's special cocktail, and play board games with your fellow guests and/or the staff.
7. This is a small scale operation, with no more than 30 guests at any given time. Everyone pretty much arrives and leaves on the same day.

Bottom Line: TF is well known as a fishing lodge, but it is also an excellent choice for diving/snorkeling. I have been diving all over the world, and some of the best was done within 30 minutes boat ride of TF. If you want an active vacation: fishing, diving or an offshore eco-adventure, you should seriously consider TF. If you are looking for a place to bar hop, shop, or bring young children, then this is not for you.

  • Liked — Location, services, staff
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Tips/Secrets — Schedule visit during good weather months
  • Stayed December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Turneffe Flats

Address: Turneffe Atoll, Turneffe Island, Belize
Phone Number:
Location: Belize > Belize Cayes > Turneffe Island
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Turneffe Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 14
Also Known As:
Turneffe Flats Hotel Turneffe Islands
Turneffe Flats Islands
Turneffe Flats Hotel Islands

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