After a pleasant 90-minute boat ride across the reef from the mainland, the island solely inhabited by Turneffe Flats Lodge came into view. My colleague Barbara Alden and I marveled at the sweeping views of the lodge located along a white sand beach and bonefishing flats as the boat inched closer to the dock.
We were greeted by Scuba (the lodge’s honorary watchdog) and our hosts, Craig and Karen Hayes. They have owned the property and hosted guests for over 25 years. Since our last Frontiers visit back in 2006, several upgrades were made to the property with an eye toward sustainability of the island, lodge and the flat fishing surrounding the Belize Atoll. We were excited to see the changes first-hand.
The accommodations at Turneffe Flats consist of a main lodge, beach cabanas and two multi-bedroom villas. The main lodge serves as a social center with a dining room, bar, a comfortable sitting area, double story decks for lounging and a fly shop. In the past three years, all eight ocean view beach cabanas were remodeled with new furniture, linens and upgraded private bathrooms. The Reef Villa, which would be our home for the next two days, is expected to receive a remodel in the fall. An infinity pool, located between the main lodge and the beach cabanas, was also added since our last visit.
During our stay, we were happy to meet three Frontiers’ clients from Spring Island, SC. One client travels to Turneffe Flats several times a year – a true testament to the fishery, guides and overall ambiance of a lodge that is 30 miles by boat to the closest mainland.
Dinners in the main lodge are served family-style and offer up a tasty combination of Belizean and International dishes. Our evening meal was barbeque themed with a wonderful array of cole slaw, corn on the cob, barbequed ribs, fried chicken and cheesy potatoes. We were amazed at the absolute comradery of all the guests whether they were at the lodge to dive, fish or enjoy the atoll package.
The next morning, we headed out with Abel Coe, the Turneffe Flats Atoll Adventure Guide, Abel’s knowledge and enthusiasm for everything Belize is infectious and it is no wonder he was a recipient of the Belize Guide of the Year award. We enjoyed a day of snorkeling, manatee, dolphin and bird watching. It was a truly educational and fun-filled day!
While Barbara and I were viewing the fish from our snorkel masks and the atoll boat, the Frontiers’ clients were busy with their fly rods on the flats. Dan B. from Spring Island landed his first permit – 30 pounds! Earl M. from Spring Island landed a migratory tarpon – 130 pounds! Everyone had a great day at a great lodge. We cannot wait to go back! There is truly something for everyone at Turneffe Flats Lodge!
By: Denise Schreiber, Belize Destination Specialist