Turneffe’s most famous dive site is called the Elbow, a steep drop-off inhabited by eagle rays, snappers, and other creatures. The atoll is also a top Caribbean fly-fishing destination, where anglers try to achieve the “Grand Slam”—catching bonefish, tarpon, and permit in one day. While most visitors day-trip to Turneffe, there are options to stay overnight at the resorts on the atoll, including Blackbird Caye Resort and Turneffe Island Lodge or at a research facility on Calabash Caye, known to have a beautiful stretch of beach. If you’re not interested in getting wet, helicopter tours of the area are available, offering views of the Turneffe island cluster and other parts of the Caribbean.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Due to the strong currents, the Elbow is considered for advanced divers.
- Parts of the reef here are good for shallow dives for beginners and snorkeling.
- Bring insect repellent if you plan to spend time on land.
- Bird watchers can spot more than 60 species here including osprey, heron, and the great breasted mango.
How to Get There
The Turneffe Atoll is located southeast of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, off the coast of Belize. It’s about an hour’s drive from Lighthouse Reef and 45 minutes from the northern edge of Glover's Reef. Diving resorts typically provide boat transfers from Belize City, which is 20 miles (32 kilometers) away and reachable in about 1.5 hours by car.
When to Get There
You can dive Turneffe Atoll year round. But from the end of December through the end of April is considered the best time to visit; this is Belize’s dry season and peak tourist season. If you’re planning to fish, keep in mind that peak tarpon months are June, July, and August. These months are also the best for overall fishing because there are good numbers of bonefish, tarpon, and permit then, so you can catch that “Grand Slam.”
Diving the Other Atolls Along with Turneffe, Lighthouse and Glover's Reefs make up the trio of atolls (circular reefs or chains of islands formed by coral) around Belize. Considered quieter dive spots than some other sites in Belize, these atolls offer plenty to see including coral gardens. Glover's Reef is the most remote and least visited, while Lighthouse Reef is the furthest away from land.
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