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Turneffe Island Resort
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Reviewed January 20, 2010

The island, staff, rooms, and food were all great! Although meals are served family style, if you're a picky eater, like my husband, they will work with you (to his delight!). Loved the hot chocolate waiting on our porch every morning too.

The diving was fantastic. The Blue Hole was canceled due to weather, which just gives an excuse to go back!

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank SorayaDC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 27, 2009

My wife and I just returned from 2 weeks at TIR. The first was spent diving and the second fishing.
Arrival - resort management meets you at the airport and transports you to the Marina. We had lunch at the Calypso Club and because we arrived on the first flight of the day waited several hours for the other guests to arrive, which was OK with us as we met some new friends and were happy to be in Belize. The 90 minute boat ride on the 48 ft Ms. Bella was enjoyable and included rum punch drinks and pepperment towels for refreshing. The resort grounds are more beautiful than we expected.
Staff - We were totally impressed with all the staff members, they were friendly and aimed to please and made us feel welcome.
Food - The food is served family style in large quantities and is excellent. Picky eaters may not like this as there is not a menu of items to choose from. Alternate selections are offered for those with dietary restrictions. Items included fish, chicken ribs and pasta. The prepartion and seasoning were excellent and many people on our trip purchased the resort cookbook
Rooms - mahogony wood finish throughout and comfortable beds. Bathrooms have indoor and outdoor shower which is larger and sort of fun.
Sustainabilty - this is a big theme throughout the resort in terms of water conservation, and electricity usage, which involves recycling and solar power.
Activities - scuba diving and fishing are world class, snorkeling, ocean kaykaks, hobie cat sailing, pool, spa and massage service. Twice daily snorkel trips are really excellent with an outstanding guide Carlos.
Diving - superb dive spots just 10 minutes away with amazing coral, sponges and sea life. Excellent dive masters and crew that are quick to provide a towel after the dive. The all day "Blue hole dive trip" is a special treat as was as the night dive that includes hot chocolate after.
Fishing - excellent bonefishing, permit and tarpon with outstanding guides. The last day I fished I caught 36 bone fish!
Bar - George is a great bartender with lots of bar tricks and good service. The pool bar is the central gathering point at the end of the day.
Misc. - Internet access in office for $1/min. no cell phone access. The family style seating and group activities results in lots of new friends being made. For diving, fishing or just getting away this resort is hard to beat.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank jsmithkra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2009

I was looking for a resort for 4 of us to do some flats fishing in Belize. In June I stumbled upon a great deal from this resort. I had always wanted to try it out but it is usually very expensive and we try to limit our yearly trip to $3000 total per person for everything including all transportation costs to and from our hometowns. I can't say enough good about this place. The managers while we were there were great (Kae and Barb), our guides KP and and Edie were great, Cheryl and George the bartenders went out of their way with service. We were not fly fisherman for this trip but wanted to use spinning tackle, which was a great choice with all the wind we had. One of our group tried to flyfish one day but gave up on it quickly.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Marty J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 6, 2009

We had an amazing time at the resort. We came down with two other couples. Jason and Karen who manage the property were wonderful. We were greeted with a friendly smile and yummy fruity rum drinks on the boat ride to the island. Our rooms were really nice and the staff took care of our every need. We loved the outdoor shower! The food was served family style and every meal was fantastic. We woke up every morning with a fresh pot of coffee at our front door while we waited for the breakfast bell to go eat and then jump on the dive boat for our morning dive. Although the visibilty was not great because of the weather, the dive master, Brad made the diving an amazing experience. He took us to the best dive spots with the best visibilty and the most interesting marine life. We saw the biggest, oldest turtle that we had ever seen, hammerhead sharks, a group permit fish, lion fish, snapper, a lot of lobsters, spotted rays, trumpet fish, and shrimp. Valet service was great. We did not need to worry about our gear the enitre trip. Since the island is small and there are not that many guests, the island is very quiet and romantic. Every evening we enjoyed meeting everybody that stayed at the resort including Karen and Jason for drinks and appitizer's before dinner. We shared stories from our days of diving and fishing. Than had an amazing dinner every night. Oh my god the desert were awesome. They even made me a cake for my birthday. Then we had a few drinks at the bar and hung out with Cheryl the bartender. She was a lot of fun.
We can't say enough great things about the property. It was sad to leave and we are already planning a trip back.

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank ScubaRodd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 5, 2009

Three of us spent a week at TIR 8/15 to 8/22; my daughter (15) and I diving and my wife relaxing and snorkeling. Overall, our time there was as pleasant as we could have hoped for.

Practically, TIR is not as difficult to get to as its remote location might suggest. We flew direct from Newark, NJ to Belize City and easily found TIR’s representatives who quickly arranged transportation to the dock at the Princess Hotel and Casino. As others have said, the Princess is not someplace we would want to stay, and we spoke with another guest who made that mistake. They were very disappointed and described a filthy swimming pool and other issues they observed. The high prices at the Calypso restaurant / bar did not stop us from enjoying a cool drink or two to pass the time, but a/c would indeed have been nice after traveling. Oddly, we learned that TIR is on its own time zone one hour different than Belize City.

Our transfer to the island on the Miss Bella was pleasant, and the ice cold towel and punch upon boarding was welcome and refreshing. The Miss Bella, like all TIR’s boats, seemed well maintained and equipped, and well chosen for their tasks. It seemed to me that for such a small resort, their fleet was large and modern - a lot of $ spent here.

Most of our fellow travelers were divers; there were a few who combined fishing and diving and one couple who were there on the fishing package. My wife and a few other guests accompanying divers were beachcombers / snorkelers. Weather for the trip was pretty consistent; 92F with winds between 10 and 20 knots. We saw a few thunderstorms around, but only felt a few drops all week. Water conservation is important on the island, and we were told they had seen very little rain recently. The Resort Managers Karen and Jason were very helpful throughout our stay and briefed guests about the resort upon arrival. Jason participated on several dives, and is a very good kite-boarder! He joined us for several meals and was great company. We all felt the food was awesome; tasty, plentiful and fresh. Served family style, meals are announced with a ship’s bell and each is a friendly conversation filled experience. No-one had any significant complaints or ever felt hungry and snacks water and lemonade were nearly always available.

The accommodations are attractive and well cared for. We stayed in a two room building near the docks - very convenient for diving. While not as large as some we have seen, they are not claustrophobic with high ceilings. The a/c works well but can be a bit loud, especially as it cycles on and off in energy saver mode. I especially appreciated the large outdoor shower; it seemed awesome to me to sip coffee delivered to our doorstep at 6:30- a.m. in the shower while looking up at the palm trees. The resort is meticulously landscaped, with flowers and ornamental plants of all sorts everywhere you look. Everyday grounds keepers could be seen watering, pruning, planting, and raking the sand. Bugs were never an issue on the island - neither mosquitos or no-see-ums. The near constant breeze helps this, and keeps the high temperature bearable.

As described by others, the divers were assigned to a boat / DM for the week. My daughter and I were assigned to Daniel, and were pleased by his knowledge of the dive sites and their resident creatures, pretty good dive briefings and attentiveness. No-one on our boat dove with Nitrox except for the DM. He routinely checked remaining air for newer divers and reminded us during the briefings to be wary of our NDL during our second / third dives each day. Daniel tried hard to locate and point out more interesting creatures, including nearly perfectly camouflage scorpionfish, drums, and toadfish. One pair of divers who had some air consumption issues often stayed shallower through many of our dives, but all dives were done essentially as a group.

Many dives were on walls, some on highly structured sections of reef. We saw many healthy staghorn coral colonies, some larger than any I’d seen before. Healthy elkhorn corals were seen in some areas. Similarly, many barrel and tube sponges were larger and more robust than I’ve seen in Cozumel or Utila. That said, the visibility, especially during the first part of our week, was less than ideal, ranging from 40 to 60'. We changed dive sites “on the fly” a few times because Daniel felt the visibility was unacceptable. Fine particulates and small pieces of vegetation marred many photographs with backscatter, and in some cases had settled and coated the surface of large sponges. Jason could occasionally be seen at the rear of a dive group, carefully clearing off the surface of some of the largest sponges. I was told at some point that there may have been some dredging somewhere nearby resulting in the poor vis. In any case, conditions seemed to be clearing as our stay progressed and was best out at the Elbow and during the 2nd and 3rd dives on the Blue Hole trip.

The Elbow was particularly fascinating, with large schools of fish including game fish such as permit. Conditions were a bit challenging on one dive there - pretty big waves to make things exciting, but that was more than made up for by the number and variety of fish. Large tarpon were seen on many of our dives, along with barracuda. Spotted and green morays were abundant on many dive sites, along with juvenile and adult spotted drums, trunkfish and trumpetfish. I have never seen a hogfish even ½ the size of a few we saw there, and one more moderately sized individual posed nicely while being cleaned. We saw two smallish lionfish during our trip - I’ve posted a photo. They were killed, but obviously they are in the area to stay. Our night dive was interesting, with decent visibility and some variety of critters about including lobster, crabs (and one of the largest hermits I’ve seen), and a few basket stars. The blood worms swarmed white lights mercilessly, interfering with photography and being just generally annoying. I felt as though they were squirming into my wetsuit sleeve; my daughter told me she felt like they were trying to get into her ear - not a calming feeling at 60' at night. The timing of the night dive was immediately after dinner, at 8:00 p.m., so it was full dark on the way out. The weather was clear - so the stars provided quite a show for those of us from near big cities.

The Blue Hole Dive lived up to its reputation; dark, a quick bounce to 135'. About 3/4 of the two dive groups went all the way; the rest formed a third group that stopped at about 60'. All divers going deep were told to stay to 130' but most who went to the “bottom” actually went to 135' to 138' in order to comfortably swim through a few stalactites. There were plenty of sharks to accompany us on the way up and down - they seemed accustomed to divers in the water and swam to within a few feet of us. Daniel warned that if any appeared aggressive, we should form up in a circle, with him in the middle (chuckle). We arrived at the hole early, before the dive boats from Ambergris Caye and the Aggressor. We had finished our picnic lunch at Half Moon Caye and were visiting with the Red-Footed Boobies before the Aggressor and other boats joined us there.

The last evening we enjoyed a tasty beach BBQ (ribs, chicken, veggie ka-bobs, etc..). After the BBQ, TIR holds its hermit crab races, which proved to be amusing for all. There certainly is no shortage of the critters on the island - they can be found nearly everywhere after nightfall in groups and walking about. Watch your step! Aside from the crabs, watch for several types of lizard, woodpeckers, frigate birds and a surprising number of hummingbirds attracted to the many flowering plants and the palm trees.

For those of you with landlubber SO’s a few words about my wife’s experience might be helpful. As a novice snorkeler, she was reluctant to go out on their daily trips at first, but gained confidence with the assistance of the snorkel guides. She eventually made it out on 7 snorkeling trips, and is more comfortable in the water and on boats than before our trip. If a novice snorkeler required some assistance, the staff supplied a tethered float and some fin power until they became more capable. The snorkeling sites are varied and close by, and generally inside the reefs so any wave action / current is mitigated for snorkeling. My daughter and I joined several of the snorkel trips after diving so we all had a great time together. My wife also enjoyed a massage during her stay, and was most pleased with that. She loved the layout of the resort, the relaxed atmosphere and camaraderie of the pool bar and dining room, and the many relaxing locations along the beach and resort she found to read and enjoy the sun. To use her words, there was a hammock or lounge chair at every turn, whenever she wanted one. No rush to reserve lounge chairs at 6:00 a.m. here! The morning coffee / tea service, excellent conversation filled meals, pleasant times at the pool and pool bar, evening turn-down service (and a poem on hand wax-sealed stationary each evening) - this resort has changed her opinions regarding a “dive resort” and made her more open to such locations for the future (hooray for me!). TIR stays on our short list for a return trip.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled with family
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8  Thank Qnape
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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