Easily accessible from Belize City, the Turneffe Islands are the biggest atoll reefs in Belize with over 200 cayes in the group, the diving possibilities are endless. There are deep walls, canyons, tunnels, shallow reefs, mangroves, sandy bottom areas, wrecks and much more, so you'll never get bored with the diving here.
There are a few gorgeous, private island resorts in the Turneffe Islands, and if you have the budget then it's well worth the splurge, but if it's out of your price range then day trips are avaiable from the mainland and even from Ambergris Caye, so you can still enjoy the area, even if you're not staying there.
The fascinating ecological significance of these islands is truly incredible. The mangroves are actually surround by the sea, meaning that the nutrient rich waters make the area richly diverse and some of the best diving in the country. Shoals of fish are abundant such as jacks, snapper and permits. Different species of sharks can be seen almost on every dive like reef sharks or maybe a hammerhead. From dolphins to mantas, turtles to eagle rays and hugs pelagics like tuna, wahoo and sailfish might visit too.
For certified wreck divers the Sayonara is of interest, or Triple Anchors for all levels of divers. Deep walls full of life can be found at the Elbow, but beware of the strong currents, or Pilican Caye, Three Corner Caye and Rendez-vous Point all have interesting landscapes for the avid deep diver.
Easy, shallow dives for introductory dives can be found at Coral Garden, where you might spot an eagle ray, shark or eel and the Aquarium is a great third dive of the day where you can get a maximum bottom time and enjoy the photography opportunities on offer. At Grand Bogue you can search for the illusive White Spotted Toadfish, which is only found in Belize.
So whether you're just starting to dive or you have many years experience, the Turneffe Islands hold many treasures; for photographers, for deep divers, for wreck divers and anyone looking to see some of the best sites on offer in Belize.
(By Kelly Luckman)
The amazing Turneffe Islands are the largest Atolls in Belize, located about 48km/30 miles from the Belize City port, they are a very popular day trip from here or the surrounding islands of Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye.
The Atoll is made up of over 200 small islands, with fringing reefs, mangroves, swampland and shallow sandy areas, meaning the diversity of wildlife on the islands are unique, vast and the most special in the country.
There are a few resorts on the private islands, if you have a budget for it then it's definitely worth it but be prepared to pay over $2000 for the week for 2 people, more if you want a diving or fishing package thrown in. If you're staying on the resort then transfers are usually included, it's 1.5 hours from the mainland by or private charter flights can be arranged too.
Activities on the islands are all about getting back to nature, with gorgeous diving and snorkelling sites and some of the best sports fishing opportunities in the Caribbean. Try your hand at some fly fishing, once you catch your fish you throw it back, this policy ensures that the level of fish in the area are always thriving. Take a boat to the deeper waters for the ultimate prize of marlin, black fin tuna, sailfish and more.
A kayak adventure through the mangroves and lagoons may bring you face to face with a crocodile if you're lucky! Always admire them from a distance, touching them may result in an unexpected return to the mainland. Bird watching is another popular past time here, with 60 species currently on record, see how many you can photograph. Dolphin and manatees inhabit the region, a boat trip around the islands is the best way to spot these wonderful creatures.
There's no real nightlife on the Turneffe Islands so you'll have to entertain yourself. This is a place to escape the world, relax and recuperate, enjoy nature and the beauty of some of the best Caribbean islands. Check online for last minute deals and offers to see if you can pick up a bargain for your next vacation.
Have you had a great experience on the Turneffe Islands? We'd love to hear all about it, so rate the resorts, the area or diving and snorkelling sites that you visited.
(By Kelly Luckman)