By Rusty Chinnis
sun staff writer
There are some extraordinary places in the world where
you feel like you're on the edge of the earth and the
natural world envelopes you with a silence that is deafeningly
sublime. The Turneffe Atoll, a 30-mile long, 10-mile wide
circular necklace of stunning coral reefs fits into this
rare category. The atoll lies 25 miles due east of Belize
City in Belize, an English speaking country sandwiched
between Mexico and Guatemala on the eastern coast of Central
America. Easily accessible from the United States (especially
Florida), the Turneffe Atoll is home to one of the world's
finest adventure destinations, The Turneffe Flats Lodge.
I traveled to Turneffe Flats last October on a fly fishing
assignment. It was my second trip there, and the lodge
had impressed me with its comfortable amenities. I arrived
this time to find that they had added new decks and steps,
a stand alone central residence and an exercise room.
The cuisine had also been upgraded with sumptuous meals
featuring fresh local fruits, produce and seafood, served
with eye-appealing settings. In addition to outstanding
fishing, the lodge features some of the best diving on
the planet, as well as access to the biological and archeological
treasures on the mainland.
While my main focus on this trip was capturing images
of barracuda for an upcoming article, I also fished the
shallow coral fringe reef and explored the inner lagoons
and mangrove islands for bonefish and permit. The fishing
opportunities are diverse and the surroundings incomparable.
Although the barracuda proved challenging, the bonefish
were willing and eager to take a well placed fly. I had
a number of shots at permit during my limited time fishing
for them but didn't land one on this trip. A group of
fly anglers from the St. Pete's Fly Shop in Ft. Collins,
Colo. spent their whole trip chasing permit and everyone
in the group managed multiple fish.
On several mornings I was on the reef early in the day
to capture images and chase the vast schools of bonefish
that roam the clear shallow flats. The complete solitude,
cool morning breezes, and the hundreds of tailing bonefish
spread out over the coral flat were among the highlights
of my trip.
At the end of each day, anglers and divers are served
drinks and delicious hors d'oeuvres, including fresh conch
cervichi. After dinner, and before turning in for the
evening, I would enjoy the awe inspiring night sky. With
the absence of the moon, the Milky Way spreads out from
horizon to horizon and planets float in the inky velvet
If eight hours of fishing a day aren't enough, anglers
have only to step out their front door to wade the flats
for tailing bonefish. The lodge is perched right on the
edge of the reef and a number of bonefish were landed
within a stone's throw of shore. I also enjoyed snorkeling
right off the Turneffe Flats dock in the afternoon. The
bottom is lined with live coral, and a multitude of colored
fish, sea fans and anemones decorate the sea floor.
I consider the Turneffe Atoll and the Turneffe Flats
Lodge one of my favorite destinations. I've fished there
on two occasions, but on my next trip I plan on exploring
the diving opportunities. During my stay the lodge hosted
several guests who travel the world in search of the finest
diving destinations. They consistently rated Turneffe
as one of the top four locations in the world. For information
and to make reservations contact the lodge at www.tflats.com
or call 1-(888) 512-8812.