Nestled amidst the palms of a private island 35 miles off the coast of Belize, this is the place where pleasure meets adventure, where you spend your days on (or under) the water and your nights poolside, cocktail in hand, telling stories of the day’s catch. It’s the place where history meets luxury, where stories of inhabitants past collide with new experiences and memories. This is Turneffe Island Resort.
A concept resort that redefines the idea of vacation, Turneffe Island Resort offers anglers and divers world-class excursions into the Caribbean Sea. Where your typical vacationer may opt to sit poolside under a palm tree, sipping a coconut cocktail and reading the latest bestseller, Turneffe Island Resort’s guests are anything but typical. Catering to adult adventure-seekers, the resort specializes in personalized, all-inclusive fishing, diving and snorkeling packages for diehard water-dwellers. From the lengths of the Turneffe Flats to the depths of the Great Blue Hole, guests have easy access to Caribbean waters – and seasoned guides who know the Turneffe Atoll like the backs of their weathered hands.
A day in the life
The day begins with at dawn, welcoming a gentle tap at your door and hot coffee at your doorstep. Sit on the patio and take in the panoramic views of the sun rising over the Caribbean’s azure waters. After breakfast in the dining hall, your day of diving or fishing begins. Anglers can order a lunch to-go and stay at sea, while divers zip back to the resort at all surface intervals – with over 32 diving sites minutes from the island, returning to the island for a hot lunch is a welcome break from the saltwater and sun.
Anglers can expect up to eight hours on the water every day, whether you’d like to cast your fly into the flats or try your hand at spin fishing in the deep. The resort is known for chasing the evasive Caribbean Grand Slam: a bonefish, tarpon and permit, all in one day. With born fishermen guiding the program, guests have landed their names in the IFGA record books season after season.
Divers can expect up to three dives per day for a maximum of 15 dives per week. If your sense of adventure is tingling, the resort offers a weekly night dive and a day-trip to the legendary Great Blue Hole.
An attraction centuries in the making
Originally an oceanic cave, the Great Blue Hole flooded and collapsed thousands of years ago in the Ice Age, becoming a watery abyss that beckons divers around the globe for its gravesite of giant stalactites, where the unnerving shapes of sharks emerge from colorless voids. The trip takes divers 130 feet under water, while snorkelers can swim the perimeter of the hole and take in the colorful coral and tropical fish.
There’s something for everyone at Turneffe Island Resort – and if fishing or diving isn’t your bag, there’s always the food. Touted as one of the best attractions of the resort by repeat guests, the food is a fusion of traditional Belizean cooking and international flavors, appealing to guests from around the globe. Served family-style in the mahogany dining hall, every day features a new dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With home-baked snacks between meals, indulgent desserts and an outdoor tiki bar featuring custom concoctions every day, your wet suit may be a little snug after seven days at sea.
Your private Caribbean outpost
Unencumbered by the crowds of vacationers typical of your average all-inclusive, the 14-acre private island resort offers an exclusive all-inclusive experience: its isolation beckons only the most avid anglers and divers to venture the journey, while its size assures only an intimate gathering of guests – with 22 guestrooms, privacy is standard, not an upgrade.
From the Deluxe Guestrooms, standard with any package you book, to the expansive Presidential Villa, every room at the resort offers unparalleled privacy and luxury. Snaking down the white sand beach, flanked by palm trees rustling in the breeze, all rooms are perched on the beach with private patios and outdoor showers. Panels of Belizean mahogany weave through the floor-to-ceiling wood interiors, and personalized notes accompany your nightly turn-down service and morning coffee.
Superior Guestrooms sit a top the Deluxe Guestrooms with a heightened view of the horizon through palm leaves and coconuts. Further down the beach are the villas, private abodes with more space and peace from the everyday comings and goings of anglers and divers.
At the furthest reaches of the beach are the Honeymoon and Presidential Villas, appointed with luxury finishes and oversized patios – the Presidential Villa even features an infinity pool. The Honeymoon Villa is the perfect escape for newlyweds and couples, offering a pampering romance package, complete with breakfast in bed, a private dinner, champagne and spa treatments.
An eco-conscious ethos
Given its location on a geological anomaly, the resort’s programs and operations are built around sustainability and conservation. The fishing program is catch and release, respecting the Atoll’s bioregion, its ecosystems and the livelihood of Belizean fishermen. Hosting three rangers from the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, the resort helps enforce responsible fishing practices throughout the Atoll.
Staffing former marine biologists and researchers, the resort runs interactive programs that engage guests in education. If you’re venturing out on a snorkeling excursion, you can expect to help your guide hunt lionfish, an invasive species in the Caribbean. Spot one, and your guide will likely free-dive to spear it – in which case, it may even make the dinner menu.
A rich history
You can’t stay at Turneffe Island Resort without mention of the island’s history – or overhearing a ghost story. Formed centuries ago, the Turneffe Atoll was once an oceanic mountainous peak. With time and tectonic shifts in the earth’s crust, the peak sank to the sea floor, leaving only a coral reef around its perimeter. The coral continued to grow upon itself into a string of coral islands, which we know today as the Turneffe Atoll: a tangle of land, lagoons, channels and reef – and the lifeblood of the Caribbean’s world-renowned fishing and diving. Turneffe Island Resort is nestled at the southern elbow of the Atoll, on the coral island of Little Caye Bokel – but guests simply call the islet Turneffe Island.
Originally inhabited by indigenous Mayans, Turneffe Island was their home and livelihood, an outpost for fishing and self-preservation. With the turn of the 17th century came Europeans, shipping routes – and pirates, who commanded the Atoll’s channels, hiding away on its isles and marauding ships.
In 1962, Victor L. Barhothy built the first offshore fishing lodge in Belize on Turneffe Island, known today as Turneffe Island Resort. Under new family ownership since 2001, the resort is home to three of its original buildings, as well as an outdoor bar and pool, a string of private villas along its white sand shoreline and a helicopter pad.
Consistency in excellence
Turneffe Island Resort’s staff easily outnumber the guests at any given time. Consistently rated five stars on Trip Advisor, the resort has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence year after year, thanks to the personalized, white-glove service. Whichever experience you book, you can expect staff to know you by name – including the package you booked, your dietary preferences and how you take your morning coffee. Before ever arriving on the island, Turneffe Island Resort’s Houston office will connect with you to learn all about your likes and dislikes so they can personalize your perfect getaway.
Get here before the secret’s out
Frequented by return guests year in and year out, Turneffe Island Resort is known by few, a hidden treasure in the Caribbean Sea. But with stories of unparalleled fishing and diving experiences spreading to friends and family, the resort is making its name around the globe, attracting more and more guests who make the trek – from the southern states of the U.S. to the furthest reaches of Europe. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the relaunched and renovated private island oasis is now taking reservations. Before it becomes a resort booked years in advanced, you should find yourself at sea and discover your own personal paradise at Turneffe Island Resort.