What to expect when you travel to Turneffe Island Resort

For one week in January, I had the pleasure of escaping the cold, dreary weather of New England and travel to Turneffe Island Resort (TIR), a 14-acre slice of paradise 35 miles off the coast of Belize City. As a TIR first-timer, I wasn’t sure what to expect but in just one week, I learned so much about this unique adventure destination. So if you’re on the fence about whether a private island escape filled with scuba, snorkel and fly fishing is right for you, read on.

To start, if this is your first time to the island, you’re likely to be in the minority. Week after week, the resort hosts return guests. That alone speaks volumes about the experience you’re about to have but it also means there’s lots of people nearby who already know the ropes and are more than happy to share their tips and tricks with you for getting the most out of your vacation.

“You don’t know you need something until they bring it to you.” – Turneffe Island Resort guest.

From the moment you land in Belize, the TIR team starts working to take care of you, meeting you outside of baggage claim with a cold bottle of water. Depending on when your flight arrives, they will either bring you to the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City, where you can relax or grab a quick bite to eat, or they will bring you directly to the Bellevue Marina where the TIR boat is ready and waiting.

The boat transfer from Belize City to the island is your first real chance to mingle with the other guests. TIR offers packages in 3 night, 4 night, 7 night and 10 night increments, so there’s always a mix of guests who are arriving for the start of their vacation and those who are on the tail-end of theirs. The 90 minute ride to the resort does wonders to set your mind to ‘vacation mode’ as you leave your day-to-day troubles behind in the wake of the boat.

The island boat transfer gets even better when the staff offers each guest a delicious rum punch and a chilled, peppermint essential oil-infused facecloth to wash away the long travel day. As you draw ever closer to the resort, guests are greeted with a one-of-a-kind welcome.

As the boat docks, the entire resort staff are lined up on the dock with smiles to greet you and make you feel at home. After a short orientation, guests are escorted to their rooms as a group with their bags close in toe as the staff unloads the boat. On the first night, you’ll have a brief check-in with the staff in order to customize your stay; here you can set up your on-island credit account, inform the staff how you like your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate which is hand-delivered each morning at dawn, and meet the most important guy on the island – George the bartender.

After you’re all checked in, you’re free to start enjoying the island! Whether you’re looking for water-front beach relaxation, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, fishing, or diving, TIR has everything you need right there on the island. All that’s missing is you!

A unique aspect of the resort is the timing. Turneffe Island Resort is the epitome of “island time”. For reference, the island is one-hour ahead of the local time in Belize City and the time change works in guests favor when it comes to catching sunrise and sunset. Additionally, meals are served at predetermined times. Breakfast is at 7:30 AM, Lunch at 12:30 PM, and Dinner at 7:30 PM. Set meal times takes guess work out of the equation and all that’s required by you the guest, is to show up and have something delicious to eat. The entire resort runs like a well-oiled machine and the pre-set dining times are in place to help guests get the most out of their activities in the incredible Belizean sunshine.

Aside from world-class diving, snorkeling, and fishing experiences, you can expect to make friends as a direct result of your stay on the island. The size of the island limits max occupancy to just over forty five guests but it’s far more likely you’ll share you week in paradise with half that many. The intimate number coupled with other factors such as family-style dining and group activities give the resort a summer-camp vibe that’s conducive to striking up a conversation with a fellow guest and bonding over your shared experiences from the week. In fact, it’s not uncommon for guests to become friends during their first trip to the resort and plan their return trip together before departing.

Having now been to Turneffe Island Resort, I can say, without hesitation that it is a special place. I think guests fall in love with the resort for different reasons and it’s all about what you bring to your vacation and what you do with the time you’ve been given. To that end, the staff will go to the end of the Earth for you to make your experience unforgettable. The resort is set up in such a way to satisfy guests adrenaline cravings while offering up a nice side of relaxation and island living. For unforgettable snorkeling, diving, and fishing experiences or some world-class island relaxation, you simply cannot beat a trip to Turneffe Island Resort.

  • Peter Girard (guest)