copyright Ken Knezick - Island Dreams Travel
This report is based on a September 2021 Island Dreams' group tour to Turneffe Island Resort. Owner Ken Knezick was joined by a group of 20 Island Dreams "A-Team" scuba divers, all ready to get back in the water. In addition to Ken's report on how the trip unfolded, you will find their "Guest Comments" as well as links to both topside and underwater photo galleries. We hope you will find Ken's report of value and the photos descriptive. So...let's make our way to Turneffe Atoll and dive in!
MOMENT OF REFLECTION - Rain squalls overnight have made for a wonderfully dramatic sunrise. As I recline on my screened porch overlooking the sea, the orange glow backlights a formation of pelicans sailing just above the tops of the sea grape and palm trees. On this final day of our Belize trip, with all of our scuba diving safely done, it's time to take a breath. My Island Dreamers seem well pleased with their diving holiday. And when my dive buddies are safe and satisfied, that's what makes me happy. Right on queue, the 6:00 am coffee angels have delivered a carafe of the strong stuff to my balcony, allowing me a most welcome moment of reflection, peace, and tranquility in the face of this crazy Covid-19 world. Immersed in this moment, there is no place I would rather be.
BUBBLE OF SAFETY - Belize requires a negative Covid-19 test for entry into the country. So everyone on my direct flight from Houston to Belize had very recently been proven free of infection. At Turneffe Island Resort, all staff members have been fully vaccinated and are required to wear a mask while around the guests. As a result, we felt confident that we were in a safe bubble. This was proven out when we all were required to take another Covid-19 test prior to return to the USA. This testing was handled efficiently and quickly at the Radisson Fort George Hotel. Again, all 20 of us tested negative, and were driven directly back to the airport. Our driver, a professional tour guide, explained that he was also fully vaccinated and required to be tested twice per month. There are no guarantees, but for our group tour this proved to be an effective program to safely enable our international dive travel and feed our need for Nitrogen.
TURNEFFE ISLAND RESORT - "Wakatobi" of the Caribbean? - As soon as we were settled in and had a walk-about, my well-traveled companions began making comparisons to Indonesia's renowned Wakatobi Resort. I've the good fortunate to have made 15-trips to Wakatobi and thus have a unique perspective as I watched it from a modest dive lodge (with great diving) to one of the world's preeminent Pacific scuba diving resort. Still I totally agree with the guests' observations. Turneffe Island Resort is a mature and sophisticated operation throughout. It's expansive and carefully manicured layout, spacious air-conditioned lodgings, excellent dining, friendly and efficient personal services, and a well-developed dive operation make it the equal of any scuba diving resort I have experienced in my 40+ years of international dive travel. As pictures speak beyond words, hopefully my topside photo gallery will provide an idea of the Turneffe Island Resort experience.
CARIBBEAN DIVING - It is simply not valid to compare Caribbean and Pacific diving. Measured in eons, the Pacific is immensely older than the Caribbean Sea. As a result, the biodiversity of the Pacific (fish, corals, invertebrates) is 20-times greater than that of the Caribbean. It must also be pointed out that coral reef environments world-wide, have been in a decline over the past decades. Rising water temperatures abetted by acidification, nutrification, and overfishing are taking a visible toll. With these understandings, the diving we enjoyed around Turneffe Atoll was very good and immensely enjoyable. Especially at dive sites around "The Elbow," only 10-minutes by boat from the resort, I would characterize the diving as good as any we may hope to find in today's Caribbean. Our divers enjoyed a nice array of coral reefs and colorful tropical fishes, along with dolphin, turtles, rays, and sharks. In beautiful blue water, I particularly appreciated fly-bys from graceful spotted eagle rays. My photo gallery will give you a further idea of what you may expect to see when diving around Turneffe Island Resort.
The GREAT BLUE HOLE - Icing on the cake of a dive trip to Belize may be an opportunity to dive the "Great Blue Hole," a unique geological feature made famous by Jacques Cousteau. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 410-foot-deep oddity in the midst of the outer barrier reef can make for a very interesting and unique scuba dive. I thought I might share a feel for the scale of the Blue Hole by diving deep enough to capture one of the prominent stalactites from the bottom up. My dive computer registered a max depth of 152-feet as I made these images, allowing only a few minutes to try to achieve my objective. Fortunately, nitrogen narcosis is a fine old friend of mine. 😉
FANCY FISHING - In addition to scuba diving, Turneffe Island Resort has an equally well-developed fishing program. To diversify my trip, I purchased a fly-fishing lesson/excursion, stalking the shallow flats for bonefish with a guide. After some practice I managed to get the fly to the schooling fish quite a few times, but they just spooked and ran. I had fun, but no hook-ups. Now I understand why fly fisherman get so excited when they actually catch a fish...and why this is a good place to do just that.
OTHER ACTIVITIES - If all this diving, fishing, dining, drinking, beach walking, and relaxing does not suffice, Turneffe Island Resort offers other welcome diversions. They have a nice selection of ocean kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and a full-size Hobie sailing catamaran. These are provided for the guests' use, complimentary. Despite the requirement to do it at 6:30 am, I really enjoyed the free yoga classes. Victoria, who also runs the resort's spa, provided a lovely stretching class on the pool deck. With the morning light rising out of the ocean to frame her movements, it was the ultimate spot for sun salutations.
GETTING THERE - Direct flights are available to Belize from multiple airlines and gateways. The fact that Belize remains a competitive market has kept airfares appreciably lower as compared to destinations where one airline has stifled all other competitors. Our arrivals at Belize international Airport (BZE) were met by representatives of the resort and we were taken directly to the transfer boat, or to the Radisson Fort George Hotel which is directly across from the pier. The 1-1/2 hour transit to Turneffe Atoll was accomplished comfortably in a large cabin-cruiser style boat with both indoor and outdoor seating options.
THE BOTTOM LINE - If you are looking for a sophisticated and full-service dive resort, one relatively easy to reach from the USA, and that is taking careful Covid-related prevention measures, then Turneffe Island Resort is a superb choice. But this is not a cut-price product. Turneffe Island Resort offers a comprehensive and refined resort experience, with commensurate pricing. The good news is that we very much got the value that we paid for. Should you like to learn more, the adventure experts at Island Dreams Travel are here to help. But you don't have to just take my word for it. Have a look at the guest comments and then visit our Turneffe Island Resort page. Wishing you a world of great diving, Ken Knezick
Turneffe Island Resort is a delightful change from the pressures of the modern world. The only "House Rule" is that you don't have to wear shoes! The comfortable guest cabins face the ocean. You will enjoy island breezes and breathtaking sunrises. Each cabin has a private bath, ceiling fans, and either full or twin beds. Explore the coral reef, the marine life, the mangrove jungle, the tropical flora and fauna, or just relax at oceanside with a good novel and a cooling drink.
It's easy to experience Turneffe Island Resort for yourself. Island Dreams' special packages include transfers from the Belize airport, lodging, three meals daily, 15 boat dives, and unlimited use of kayaks and a Hobie Cat. A 1/3 deposit guarantees your place in the sun, with final payment due 60 days prior to your departure. For more information, availability, and confirmed reservations please contact Island Dreams Travel.
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