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Corbin 80

Tour Highlights

  • Stay on Turneffe Atoll, one of only three atolls inside the Belize Barrier Reef

  • Swim in areas with incredible underwater vistas that are home to a variety of marine life, including turtles, dolphins and tropical reef fish

  • Enjoy inviting warm and clear waters around the atoll, where you will often see the bottom of the sandy sea beds

  • Relax after a great days swimming in the beautiful Turneffe Flats resorts, where you'll enjoy views over the Caribbean Sea and all meals are included

Crystal clear seas, shallow reefs and a variety of wildlife both below and above the water make this an idyllic swimmer’s playground. If you enjoy swimming over coral reefs you’re in the right place. Belize is home to the second largest coral reef in the world with over 500 species of fish and 100 species of coral. We are based at Turneffe Atoll, which at 50km long and 10km wide is the largest in Belize. It’s also regarded as the most biologically diverse coral atoll in the hemisphere.

The land and seascape consists of a network of more than 150 islands and cayes that is made up of savanna and littoral forest. Here is home to many types of species of fish, lobster, conch and other invertebrates. In addition, at least three known important fish spawning aggregation sites have been identified around the atoll which is surrounded on all sides by open sea.

From swimming along the exterior of the atoll adjacent to pristine reefs to crossing lagoons in the interior at the atoll, this trip offers an incredibly rich swimming experiences. You can expect to see tropical reef fishes, rays, sea turtles, lobsters, dolphins and possibly manatees.

Our accommodation for the week is at the Turneffe Flats Resort, which is located towards the north of the atoll and has long been recognized as Belize's premier marine eco-tourism destination. When we’re not swimming, there’s time to relax at the resort which includes an oceanfront swimming pool, sea kayaks, beach and bar.


Who is this trip for?

This trip is for swimmers who want to explore both extended reefs and lagoons in a protected environment, where you can see the sea bottom most of the time. This remote location is ideally situated to discover both exciting swims and unusual wildlife.

Swimmers should have a basic understanding of open water swimming and be capable of completing the average daily swim distance of around 4½km prior to the start of the trip.


What's included?

  • Fully guided swimming holiday in the Turneffe Atoll, Belize.
  • Swim guides and full safety escort on all swims
  • Technique Advice & Video Playback
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Breakfasts, Lunches and Dinners

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour
  • Optional Tipping for Lodge Staff
  • Alcoholic Beverages

Daily Itineraries

Please note that the below daily itineraries are an example of the swims that may take place during the course of your trip, however, actual swim locations and distances will vary according to local weather and sea conditions. Your SwimTrek guides and local boat pilot will determine the most suitable swim locations each day and will communicate the plan with all guests as soon as possible.

Day 1

Our representative will meet you after you have collected your luggage and exited airport customs, where you will then be transported to the boat dock along Belize City's waterfront area. Here we join our boat for a ninety minute journey through offshore cayes, the Barrier Reef, across open ocean and then through the interior lagoon of Turneffe Atoll to Turneffe Flats, our home for the next seven nights.

Upon arrival at Turneffe Flats, we hold our welcome meeting to discuss the plans for the week, along with our safety briefing, before a tour of the resort. Following this we get into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea for the first time for our acclimatisation swim. Then it’s time to shower and relax, before we enjoy a group dinner, which is a delicious combination of Belizean and international dishes.

Day 2

On our first full day of swimming, we stay close to home and take in the archipelago of islands around Grassy Caye. It is an exceptional area for swimming, well protected inside Turneffe Atoll's fringing reef where the gin-clear waters are around two metres deep and features white sandy bottomed floors. Teeming corals and abundant sea life are visible her, It’s an ideal first day swim. We take lunch between our two swims today back at the resort and we will also pause along the reef during the day to video your stroke for analysis and swim tips later in the evening.

Day 3

Today’s swims take us to the west side of Turneffe Atoll, which is protected from the prevailing easterly trade winds. This leeward side offers miles of clear Caribbean water averaging between 3-5 metres in depth. We’ll arrive at our swim site by boat from the resort before journeying across the atoll's central lagoon and then taking an exciting traverse through the narrow passage of Crickozeen Creek. On our swims today keep a lookout for sea turtles and manatees how call these waters home. For the rest of the afternoon’s swims, we make our way north, aiming to finish near Snake Point.

Day 4

This morning we head south towards the centre of the inland lagoon. We start our first swim from the archipelago of Crayfish Cayes before heading west to the Balloon Cayes. The water in the lagoon is flat as it’s protected on all sides and is a great place to practice the technique points that you picked up from the stroke analysis earlier in the week. For the afternoon swim we will head south and carry out the crossing between Shag Caye and Cross Caye. We start above a sandy bottom which is a great place to spot rays on the seafloor below. After dinner, there is the opportunity to join in some night fishing.

Day 5

Today features a half day of swimming as we head towards the fringing reef located just off Blackbird Caye on the archipelago’s eastern wall. We begin our swim from Turneffe Flats’ itself, and will spend the morning swimming across a deeper channel called Northern Bogue and into protected waters 2-3 meters deep. The seabed here features gleaming white sand and vibrant patches of coral, and the waters are rich with marine life.

The afternoon is given over to have some free time in the resort, where you could choose to try some snorkeling over the nearby reef or relaxing by the swimming pool.

Day 6

This morning we travel our furthest distance from our base as we journey to the southern section of Turneffe Atoll and the picturesque coconut palm-lined islets of Pelican Caye, Soldier Caye, Calabash Caye, and Ropewalk Caye. Along these so-called "backreef flats" are many miles of flat waters, perfect for swimming in. The swims run parallel with Turneffe's fringing reef and its proximity to this area creates abundant opportunities for viewing marine life both below and above the water.

Day 7

Today we head out for another swim at your choice of prime sites around the expansive coral atoll, or alternatively you enjoy some of the world-class reef snorkeling nearby. Turneffe Atoll is regarded as having some of the finest reef snorkeling opportunities in the Caribbean and you will be joined by one of Turneffe Flats’ naturalist guides.

Day 8

Following an optional sunrise swim in front of the resort, we take a relaxed breakfast, before we check out and meet our transfer boat. The boat will drop you back at Belize City where you will be met by a bus transfer back to Belize (S. W. Goldson) International Airport.

Trip Schedule

Start Point: Belize International Airport (BZE)

Start Time: 15:00 on Day 1

Finish Point: Belize International Airport (BZE)

Finish Time: 10:00 on Day 8 (or approx 09:00 Radisson Fort George Hotel, Belize City)

Trip Information

Equipment Checklist

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x2) Small Daypack
Swimming Googles* (x2) Waterproof Jacket
Sun Hat and Sunglasses Sweater / Fleece
Waterproof Sun Cream (Fact 50 or higher or zinc) Flip Flops
Rash Best and Leggings / Jammers for Swimming Sarong
Towel** Insect Repellent
Aqua Shoes (to wade between boats and islands) High SPF Lip Balm
Drink / Water Bottle

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

**Towels will be provided, however, please do feel free to bring your own along if preferred.

Please note that SwimTrek will supply swim hats and provide water and electrolyte drinks in shared water bottles on your safety boat. If you prefer to use your own drink bottle, please feel free to bring one along. If you would like to use a wetsuit, rash vest or fins during your swims, please ensure that you bring these with you.

Swimming Distances

Swim Distances
Grassy Caye 1 2½km
Grassy Caye 2 2km
Crickozeen Creek 3km
Snake Point 2km
Crayfish - Balloon Cayes 3km
Shag - Cross Cayes 1½km
Eastern Wall & Northern Bogue 4km
Pelican - Soldier Caye 2½km
Calabash - Ropewalk Cayes 2km
Snorkelling Swim 1km

*Please note that these swims are an example of the what may take place during the course of your trip and should be used as a guide only. Actual swim locations and distances will vary according to local weather and sea conditions.

Swimming Conditions

Swimming in the sea is a fantastic experience but you need to be aware that marine life is abundant in Belize. Stonefish, scorpionfish, lionfish, jellyfish, sea urchins and coral could be present during the swims. In all cases we will work on reducing your contact with these creatures, however if you suffer from anaphylaxis please consult the office prior to booking.

Temperatures

Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
November 27-29°C / 81-84°F 26-28°C / 79-82°F
December 26-28°C / 79-82°F 25-27°C / 77-81°F

*Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent weather conditions when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays require a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.

Group Size

This trip has a maximum group size of 14 swimmers, with space for an additional two non-swimmers to join us, and will be accompanied by two SwimTrek guides and a local boat crew. The group will be split into a maximum of two groups based on speed, each of which is accompanied by their own safety vessel/escort.

Getting There

Flights to Belize are widely available from most international destinations, however, due to its isolated location in Central America, multi-leg journeys are usually required.

While we have outlined various travel options below, they are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. We suggest that you use Skyscanner to search for alternative flight options for this trip.

NB: Please note that if travelling via the US, non-US residents are likely to need a visa. For further information, please visit: esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/.

Travel to Belize International Airport (BZE)

The only international airport in Belize, Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport is located close to Belize City. Direct flights operate between Belize and a number of US cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles & Newark. In addition to the US, there are also direct non-stop flights operating from Canada, between Belize and Toronto. If flying over from Europe, there are an abundance of indirect flights to Belize, often via US cities including Charlotte, Dallas & Miami.

To search for available flights into Belize International Airport, please visit Skyscanner.

Travel from Belize International Airport to Turneffe Flats

It is important that your flights must arrive no later than 15:00 on Day 1. Upon arrival at Belize International Airport, you will pick up your luggage, clear customs and exit the airport. In case you need assistance with your luggage, airport porters are available, though this is a very short distance. As you exit customs, a representative from Turneffe Flats will meet you and transport you to our boat dock along Belize City's waterfront area. There you will be notified of the boat’s scheduled departure time, which varies according to guest arrivals. The onwards boat journey takes approximately 90 minutes. Once you have booked your flights and any pre-trip accommodation in Belize, please ensure that you forward this information to info@swimtrek.com as soon as possible. If you are not meeting us at Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, you should inform us at the time of booking and then meet at the Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina.

Delayed Arrival

If your inbound flight is delayed and you miss our transfer boat, please get in contact with us as soon as possible. You will need to stay in Belize City on Saturday overnight and we will arrange a transfer boat to take you across the following morning or charter a boat (at your own expense). You would need to cover the cost of meals and lodging, and/or the private charter in Belize City. For this reason we recommend that you arrange to arrive in Belize earlier than the recommended arrival time.

Departure from Turneffe Flats

After a light breakfast on Saturday, we depart Turneffe Flats at around 07:30. We expect the boat to arrive at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City approx 09:00. Upon arrival in Belize City, you will be transferred to the airport for around 10:00, so you should not book a flight departing belize prior to 11:00. If you are staying on in Belize you can opt to depart from the Radisson. For guests with mid-late afternoon departures, you can arrange a half-day tour of a Mayan Ruin or the Belize Zoo with a local tour operator locally.

Practical Information

Accommodation

Our home for the week is the Turneffe Flats Resort, a well known local property in a prime area for diving, fishing and now, swimming! The resorts main lodge is centrally air-conditioned and includes a spacious sitting area, dining room and bar. A pre-dinner gathering for hors d'oeuvres, drinks and conversation is customary here. The large breezy veranda is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the evening and the gift shop is also located in this building. Our accommodation is amongst eight large cabanas located on the beach plus one two-bedroom villa and two large three-bedroom villas. The sea-side cabanas have a panoramic view of the Caribbean and Turneffe Atoll Reef. Reef Villa is located on the beach with a wonderful view across the horizon. The Garden Villa is a deluxe accommodation set back from the beach but with a fantastic view as well. The newest villa is Pelican Villa located on the beach with a fantastic view of Pelican Caye and has two bedrooms and a living room area. All rooms are air-conditioned and most are furnished with two queen sized beds, although the Pelican Villa has one king sized bed. All rooms have private bathrooms.

Pre/Post-Trip Accommodation

If you require any additional nights’ accommodation in Belize City before or after the trip, we would recommend staying at the Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina, this can be arranged directly through the hotel.

Meals

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon snacks are included with fresh fruits, fresh seafood and fresh baked pastries. Meals are served ‘family-style’ in the main lodge, and are a tasty combination of Belizean and American dishes. A breakfast of fresh fruit, cereal, eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage and fresh baked goods is served prior to swims. Lunch is taken back at the lodge except on one day when we travel to the atoll’s southern point and will take lunch aboard our boat. Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails are served prior to dinner, with main courses varying from seafood, chicken, pork and beef. Our chefs will do their best to accommodate special dietary requirements, however, if you have any strict dietary restrictions/requirements, please contact the SwimTrek office prior to booking.

The bar is stocked with scotch, bourbon, gin, rum, vodka, tequila, vermouth and several liqueurs. In addition, red and white wine as well as local Belikin beer is available. Liquor, beer and drink setups are not included in your package price. Individual tabs are kept, and you can check on your tab at any time during your stay and settled prior to departure.

Water Supply

As you are living on a remote coral atoll water is primarily supplied by rainwater collection and desalination. The freshwater supply is limited, and guests are asked to conserve water when possible.

Money, Extra Expenses and Tipping

U.S. currency is easily exchanged within Belize at a rate of $2 BLZ for $1 U.S., and you do not need to exchange money before travel. Large U.S. bills ($50's and $100's) may not be readily accepted so we suggest that you bring smaller bills. Other currencies should be exchanged for Belizian dollars or U.S. dollars prior to traveling to Belize. Major Credit Cards are accepted in Belize City.

At the end of your stay, you may settle your tab with cash or credit card – Turneffe Flats accepts VISA, AMEX, MasterCard & Discover. If you wish to use your credit card, a 3% charge is levied on that portion of your tab. Please also note that there may be a limited amount of change available at the resort.

We are often asked about customary tipping practices and we offer the following suggestions for your convenience. Tips should be paid in cash as the resort has a limited amount of change and we suggest that all tipping be done at the end of your visit. For lodge staff, $100-$200 per guest per week is suggested. This covers the kitchen, waitresses, housekeeping staff and baggage handlers. Boat crew and guides are tipped at your discretion.

Your airline MAY collect a departure tax at check-in of up to $40 U.S. per person depending on how your ticket was purchased.

Internet Access

There is wireless internet access in the main lodge and in some of the nearer cabins. This service provides email and internet usage; however, the satellite-based bandwidth is limited and so NOT able to support Skype or other VOIP protocols, instant messenger services, Youtube, video downloads, webcam, or other applications that require large amounts of bandwidth.

Passports and Visas

A valid passport is required to enter Belize. Upon arrival into Belize, you will need to fill out an immigration form. Make sure to keep the bottom portion of your form, as this will be required when you depart Belize. For further information about passport and visa requirements, please visit the website of your local Belizian embassy or the website of the Belize High Commission.

Health Information and Recommended Vaccinations

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to Belize, including all recommended and required vaccinations, please visit Travel Health Pro. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip. It is also recommended that you discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Travel Plugs & Electricity

Turneffe Flats is operated with diesel generators, which supply 110V/220V AC. Generators run around the clock and are not within hearing distance of guest rooms. For a useful source of information on the different electrical outlets, electrical plugs, and electric sockets, please visit worldstandards.eu.

  • The 'Belize Barrier Reef' trip is new for 2019. As soon as we have run our first trip, we will share some customer reviews here.