Of the three atolls in Belize, Turneffe is the closest to mainland, about 24 miles east of Belize City and is inhabited by a distinctly different ecosystem. Common to the Lighthouse and Glovers Reef Atoll are white coral sand and palm-fringed islands surrounding a central lagoon. Turneffe Atoll is uniquely characteristic of numerous islands completely encrusted in a mass of entangled mangrove trees with a few coconut trees in the mixture and only small stretches of sandy beach, all surrounding a very shallow lagoon. Because of this lush green ecosystem and shallow crystalline lagoons, Turneffe is home to crocodiles, scorpions, flying and crawling insects, snakes, large ospreys, many species of wading birds, manatees, and a large population of game fish that spark excitement in fly-fishing fanatics.
Extending 32 miles long and ten miles wide, Turneffe is the largest atoll in Belize. Supporting over 200 mangrove islands, the atoll is home to a couple of resorts, a small community of expert divers and fishermen, and two lighthouses. The rich mangrove ecosystems are natural habitats for fish nurseries where thousands of feeding schools continuously move through the shallow lagoons and mangrove coasts. Common to the area are bonefish, barracuda, permit, snapper and tarpon. The Atoll also boasts premiere diving spots, like the infamous ‘Elbow’ at its southern tip, where divers meet a 3000 foot wall frequented by schools of snappers, permits barracudas and the occasional hammerhead, bull, black tip and nurse sharks. Located close to the Lighthouse Atoll, visitors are also offered the convenience of visiting the popular Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye.