Centuries ago, the earth’s crust shifted and caused the land mass off the coast of Belize to sink into the sea. When these three large mountain peaks sank, coral began to grow towards the surface of the water. In a process, which began thousands of years ago and continues today, new coral grew upon older coral and as a result the three atolls in Belize were formed. These are three of only four which exist in the Caribbean. The fourth is the Chincarro Banks off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
Archaeological evidence shows that the earliest inhabitants of the Turneffe Atoll were Mayan Indians who set up fishing camps and homes on the atoll due to the abundant marine life. In the 17th and 18th centuries the first Europeans came to settle in Belize. Due to the shipping routes which were established in the area, pirates then began to use the hundreds of channels and lagoons on Turneffe Atoll as hideaways. One of the more famous pirates was Pirate Joe who was said to use the creek and lagoon, now known as Joe’s Hole, as the base of his enterprise.
In 1884 British Honduras became a crown colony of Britain. The name was changed to Belize in 1971 and Independence was granted in 1981. It is, however, a member of the British Commonwealth.
In 1941 Mr Ethlin Young received a Fiat Grant from the Crown for 10 acres of land on Caye Bokel, which is located at the southern tip of Turneffe Atoll. Ethlin was a fisherman and kept a fishing camp on the island. In 1961 he sold the land to Mr Victor L Barhothy for the sum of $800 Belize.
Victor, an American, ran a fishing operation in the Florida Keys before going on to establish one in Cuba. During the Cuban revolution, he and his wife fled the country with their houseboat and fishing skiffs and arrived in Belize. He established the Belize River Lodge, located along the banks of Belize River near the International Airport. Through his houseboat expeditions to the Turneffe Atoll, he had the idea to build a fishing lodge on the island for those more adventurous guests looking for a ‘unique experience’. This was to be the first offshore lodge of its kind in Belize. The Resort still retains three of its original structures built in 1962.
Since acquiring the island in 2001, we have tried to elevate the comfort of guests without compromising the unique “Hemingway feel”. In an attempt to make it more ecologically and environmentally friendly we utilize solar power along with a water purification system, the only one of its kind in the Caribbean. The improvements have been made in order to give our guests the best service that we can provide without compromising the surrounding delicate ecosystem. We hope that these combined efforts enhance your stay with us.