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“Premium $, but not Premium Resort” 2 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
Charlotte, NC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Premium $, but not Premium Resort”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2009

If all you’re looking to do is dive or fish, this is not a bad choice. The dive master and captain are excellent. The fishermen, though they didn’t catch a lot that week, enjoyed the fishing and the locations they were taken. But the property is a bit basic for the cost of the package. Plus, I was a bit surprised about the recommend $720 in tips for the three of us. The air condition is turned off during the day. It would come back on around 4:30 PM. The thermostat changes after you fall asleep, so don’t be surprised if you wake up, to find out you need to lower the AC, again. One of the two ceiling fans was too noisy to use at night. The bathroom was basic with a rather small, weak shower, not to mention the multitude of little crawling insects that showed up each morning.

The meals were small and limited. I was expecting family style, which is fine, but you’ll find they have a set menu. Seconds were never offered. Each guest was given a plate with an entrée and vegetable. My son and I are not picky eaters, so it worked. My wife on the other hand is a better cook and didn’t rave about the food. A small desert and coffee are served at the end. No need to worry about gaining weight on this trip.

We were out of customs by 11:00 AM. However, we didn’t leave the airport until after noon. We needed to wait for another couple. Not a problem though, the boat to the property didn’t leave until after 4:30 PM. If you can choose your flights find one in the afternoon. The 4 hour wait at the dock was not an enjoyable start to our vacation.

The location was remote. Next time, I’ll stay at one of the larger islands. At each site, we saw dive boats from all the surrounding islands.

The staff was nice. Had I been with my fishing buddies, the property would work. But I would not recommend this for couples. And though the diving was great, I didn’t get what I paid for. Research your other options, thoroughly.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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180 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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
London
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2009

Beware of Turneffe Fats
My name is Martin Newton, onthe 23rd of May this year I travelled from the U.K. to Turneffe Flats as a single angler for a week of guided saltwater fly fishing. My trip was booked 9 months in advance and my decision to choose this destination was based on reputation and claims made by the owner, Craig Hayes, on their web site.
‘We understand that a top notch guide is essential to a good fishing trip. At Turneffe Flats, you will be guided by experienced, knowledgeable, English-speaking guides. With an average of more than 20 years guiding on the flats, our guides are some of the most experienced and dedicated flats guides in the Caribbean’
I have fished several similar operations in the past such as Cuba, Venzuala, Dubai, Bahamas and Cheeka Lodge. Whilst I cannot fault any of the arrangements or amenities at this lodge my trip was ruined for the following reason.
On day one I was introduced to my guide “Smokey” my first sentence to him was “Hello Smokey, how long have you guided here “ he looked very sheepish and replied “long enough”
We left the dock by flats boat at 9am; I did not cast to my first fish until 1.15pm.
At this point I was concerned, as Smokey did not seem to know the fishing area and was being completely uncommunaccative.
As a 52 year old I rely on reading glasses, my guide saw this and offered to tie on my bone fish flies, that afternoon I lost 3 bonefish whilst flats wading, they did not slip the hook or break the line, the knots failed and I lost the flies as well, all had been tied on by Smokey. During the flats wading session I had absolutely no guidance from Smokey with sighting fish or casting to them I was completely on my own. That day my wading session lasted 90 minutes, I did not get another opportunity to cast at fish and I never made a cast from the boat.
Not wanting to cause trouble I decided to give Smokey the benefit of the doubt, this was a grave mistake. On day two, whilst being poled, I spotted some tailing bonefish, I pointed them out to Smokey and he completely overran them with the boat. By this time I was exasperated with the whole situation at the end of day two I had spent two hours casting to fish in two days. That evening I complained to the lodge manager.
My complaint was listened to and acted upon. Somehow I was persuaded to give Smokey one more chance, I was told that he had been spoken to and had admitted the problem. I was told he had some personal problems but that things would be better the next day. Day three was an improvement but largely due to the fact that I was coaching Smokey as to what to do i.e. tell me when and where he sighted fish and when to stop the boat.
I refused to fish with Smokey after that day and I was put with a guide called Michael. The difference was light and day. Michael was everything I expected in a guide and the remaining three days of fishing were excellent.
During my stay I was able to obtain the following information from staff members and guests
Smokey is a snorkel instructor and lobster fisherman.
Turneffe Flats have had guide problems, one guide had left and gone to work for Turneffe Lodge, another guide left over a wage issue.
They sometimes use another snorkel and adventure guide by the name of Abel to flats guide. When my wife spoke to him he told her he did not like flats guide as he was not very good at it.
On the final day of my trip another guest, Dr Jim Clark, approached me. He had arrived the Wednesday I had stopped fishing with Smokey. He had fished with Smokey for one day and told me he was going to complain about him as he knew sh** about guiding.
For the first three days of my trip I was put with an unqualified incompetent guide who had nonexistent communication skills.
On returning home I wrote a letter of complaint to Craig Hayes.
Craig Hayes offered me the following, which I believe to be an acknowledgement of a problem
‘a return trip at our “Cost Package” rate if we can do so without displacing another paying guest. This is a price point that we use for fly shop owners and industry people who are likely to generate future business for us. The 2009 rate was $950.00 plus taxes and the ’10 rate should be about the same.
I have declined this offer for the following reasons, I would need to take a week off work, Cost of flights from the U.K via Miami & overnight in Miami, and that one of the guides told me that the fishery was really on the decline over the past few years due to commercial fisherman fishing the grounds. Besides this it actually will not cost Turneffe Flats anything for the horrendous situation they put me in and time they put me through.
As if this wasn’t enough I have corresponded with Craig Hayes back and fourth with some 16 emails. I have bent over backwards to give him every opportunity to come up with a resolution to a genuine grievance. He has refused to make any other offer to reconcile the problem and at times has been insulting, evasive and completely arrogant.
My purpose for exposing this is to allow people to have informed knowledge about my experience. I would hate for anyone to go through what I went through. With hindsight I should have refused Smokey on day 1. If Craig Hayes had foresight he should never have allowed him to guide until he was capable.
I am more than happy to supply copies of all emails to any one who wants to see them.
Just email me at sherlock349@yahoo.co.uk

Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aberdeen, SD
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2009

My husband and I spent a week at Turneffe Flats in late March and every day was simply fantastik! My husband fished while I went on the eco-adventures. He caught some large bonefish, permit, and baracuda - guide Willie was great! My guide was Abel and he is an incredible teacher. We went snorkeling every day and I learned so much about corral formations and all sorts of sea life. We have snorkeled all over the world and this was definately some of the best ever.
Owners Craig and Karen do everything possible to make each guest feel welcome and special. We really enjoyed the happy hour before supper with all the guests - there was a diverse group of people but in a setting like this it made for quick bonding and a fun and relaxed atmosphere. The meals were delicious and the wait staff so friendly and accomodating. We stayed in one of the villas with 3 bedrooms off a large and comfortable common room. Great for people traveling together.
If you want to go somewhere utterly beautiful where you want to do more than lay around on a beach all day this is the place to go. Wonderful!!!

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2009

Just got back from Turneffe Flats. We went out there to do some diving. I cannot recommend this place more enthusiastically. The location is excellent. Not only does Turneffe atoll have plenty of high quality dive sites (which, incidentally, ALWAYS has calm sites protected from the wind, somewhere on the atoll) but look at a map of Belize and you'll note Turneffe has the closest access to the SUPERB wall diving out at half moon caye and long caye and, of course, the blue hole. I should mention as well that the service is excellent. You immediately feel like part of the family. Craig and Karen are consummate hosts and scuba and gabe are also great companions. The rest of the staff are all super friendly and at your service at all times. Could not have asked for more. Finally, the dive guides were incomparable. Ask for Alex and Aldo. You'll feel always in great hands, they have a wealth of knowledge, handle a boat excellently in heavy seas, and make sure to ask Alex to tell you his story about Snow. Anyway, go see them. You won't regret it... (Oh yeah, the food is INCREDIBLE.)

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sevierville, Tennessee
Level Contributor
14 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2009

Turneffe Flats has become our favorite spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Upon our arrival in Belize City, we were met by the Turneffe Flats air conditioned van and taken to the rendezvous point at the dock of the Princess Hotel. There is a nice restaurant/bar (The Calypso) if you are famished from your fancy airline meal! When everyone has arrived, you board Miss Ellie, a beautiful custom dive boat, for the 1 1/2 hour ride to the resort. The trip is beautiful, from the open ocean to the mangroves. This is a great time to begin to meet the others who will be sharing the week with you.

Upon arrival at the resort, everyone gathers at the main lodge and gets a brief orientation of where the rooms are, what time meals are, etc. While this is happening your luggage is magically transported to your room. There are several types of accomodations available. There are great cabanas on the beach, the Reef Villa, and the Garden Villa. The Villa's are especially nice for families or two/three couples travelling together. The cabanas are right on the beach and have great porches.

The food is fantastic. Everything is fresh, carefully prepared and beautifully presented. Should you have any special needs in the food department, please let them know. They will certainly try to accomodate.

Turneffe is perfect for our family because my husband fishes, I dive and our daughter does a bit of both. I have been diving in many areas and I must say that the diving at Turneffe is the best. You do not touch your equipment after your arrival. The dive staff takes excellent care of everything. The dive sites are amazing. Fantastic fish, sponges, fans. This year we were the first boat to arrive at the Blue Hole. It was wonderful having it all to ourselves! I had a malfunction with my regulator (I was breathing more water than air). There was a spare regulator on board and I was back in the water. Things like this can ruin a trip, and I so appreciate the preparedness of the staff. There is a smaller new dive boat for groups with less than 5 divers. It is a very nice boat, but Miss Ellie is much more comfortable. Bring a lot of your friends!

My husband loves the fishing. He thinks very highly of the guides at Turneffe. He is still waiting on a Grand Slam. One of these years.

The week always flies by. It is a fantastic spot.

  • Liked — Diving, wonderful staff
  • Disliked — Couldn't stay longer!
  • Stayed December 2008, traveled with family
    • 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
    • 4 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.
new jersey
2 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2009

We had an absolutely amazing time at Turneffe Flats. We did the Atoll Adventure package, it was an unbelievable experience. Abell was our guide and he is incredibly knowledgeable about Belize, the Atoll and all the wildlife it contains. We spent the days snorkeling and exploring the wildlife of the Atoll. It seemed like Abell knew all the best spots, we saw dolphins, lobsters, crabs, sting rays and countless types of coral and fish.

The resort is absolutely charming and the staff is really great. We loved meeting the other guests and were really impressed by the quality of the food. My husband and I loved the food so much we bought the recipe book to take home!

  • Liked — Accomodating and knowledgeable staff
  • Disliked — Bed was a bit hard
  • Stayed January 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Anchorage, Alaska
Level Contributor
45 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2008

We were at Turneffe Flats Nov 8 - 15. This was the best vacation we have ever had by far. My husband was on a fishing package and I was on the Adventure Atoll package and got to snorkel everyday and it was amazing. The week flew by and we were very sad to have to leave. The rooms, food and staff were wonderful. My husband really liked his guide, Dubbs, and the Atoll guide, Abel, was great. My husband caught bone fish and permit and also joined us snorkeling the day we went to the Blue hole. I saw dolphins and manatees and while snorkeling we saw turtles, sharks, rays, moray eels, lobsters, and more fish than I cold have imagined. If we ever get back to Belize, we will definitely return to Turneffe Flats.

  • Liked — right on the beach
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed November 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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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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