Tarpon Caye Lodge in Belize is a saltwater fly fishing destination custom-tailored on a private island retreat for the serious flats fishermen and, more specifically, hardcore permit fisherman. The location is perfect, as you are never more than a short boat ride to the permit flats. With good reason, this part of Belize is known as the permit capital of the world!
Hugged by Mexico to the North, Guatemala to the West and South and kissed by the picturesque Caribbean to the East, with a quick two hour flight from the United States, Belize is a unique blend of pristine nature, a rich melting pot of cultures, and endless adventure.
Tarpon Caye Lodge sits on a secluded, private island only 6 miles west of the second longest barrier reef in the world, and surrounded by hundreds of square miles of exquisite fishing grounds. The permit fishing in this part of Belize is excellent and there are few places in the world that offer better shots at this challenging fish. Many of the best flats are only five minutes from the island. This is your classic permit setting for those who love to target tailing fish in very shallow water. At times your guide will pole you along the pristine flats, while at times you will wade the flats in search of tailing fish.
Tarpon Caye Lodge can accommodate up to 10 rods at a time, making it ideal for small groups looking for a unique and intimate setting. Hammocks on the veranda invite weary anglers to stop and rest while offering the perfect place to watch the sun set on another day in “Permit Paradise”.
Reservations & Rates
Seasons at Tarpon Caye Lodge
March to August:
These are the best months to fish for Permit in Southern Belize. Our tides are more or less stable during these months. The first and last quarter moons are the best periods. These two moon phases give you two rising tide in a day and increases your options of catching a permit.
Tarpon also begin migrating in March, and these large migratory fish will continue to be found in Belize through August. They naturally migrate through the Victoria Channel and Tarpon Caye is located in the center of the Victoria Channel; this is a major stopping point for these fish migrating north and migrating back south; due to the fact that they feed on the minnows that live in the lagoon. The minnows feed on the marine algae that line the bottom of the lagoon; therefore they are here almost all year round.
These are also the best months to target bonefish in southern Belize. In this area there are approximately 15 + spots for your fishing pleasure.
September to November:
We experience much higher tides; therefore first quarter and last quarter moons are still the most favorable period. Your fishing tactics change from fishing on a half-full to full tide to a low to half-full tide to compensate for the extra high tide we get in these months. Flats that are out of water during the rest of the year are now below water, making it a quite a unique fishing experience.
The tarpon migration slows down in September and October, and they start migration back south around the first week in November.
December to February:
The new moon or full moon is the best time during these months. These three months normally have extra low tides; and you will want to fish the Spring tides so you could get the highest tides.
Very few migratory tarpon are here during the winter. However, we do have resident tarpon around. These are smaller tarpons than migratory ones, and are good for fishermen looking to target smaller tarpons.
Getting to Tarpon Caye Lodge
Travel to Tarpon Caye Lodge is easy, with numerous daily connecting flights into Belize City (Belize International Airport, airport code BZE). Guests traveling to Tarpon Caye need to arrive in Belize City prior to 3:30 pm, in order to be able to catch the final Tropic Air Flight from Belize City (BZE) to Placencia (PLJ), which departs at 5:00 pm. There are a total of 10 Tropic Air Flights into Placencia each day, so anglers will never have to wait long, and if they are delayed and miss a flight they shouldn't have a
problem catching a later flight (as long as it's before the final, 5:00 pm flight). A valid passport is required of all visitors to Belize and must be valid for at least 6 months past dates of travel.
Please call or email Lilia Zetina, or Margie Perez of Lil's Adventure Travel Services to make flight arrangements on Tropic Air from Belize City to Placencia and return.
E-mails: email@example.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
Day of Arrival in Belize:
Upon arrival at Belize International Airport, you progress through immigrations, then grab your checked luggage, and follow through customs. Upon departing Customs, there are a couple of porters that will hurry and grab your bags to help get you through the terminal; they are friendly and harmless, only asking for $2 for helping with bags. You can rush past and ignore them if in a group, but it's almost worth the $2 for the help with bags and, they streamline you through customs so you don't get stopped.
Immediately after exiting customs, you are led to the Tropic Air Counter directly left of the baggage claim exit. They check you in for your flight, then direct you across the terminal to the yellow sign where you will re-check through security and into the departures terminal.
All Tropic Air departures operate from Gate 6, at the far end of the terminal, and you want to be near that gate at least 20-30 minutes prior to departure, as they do occasionally leave early. Or late. There are plenty of gift shops spread throughout the terminal where you can get Belizean Rum, snacks, or souvenirs. There is a small bar at one end of the terminal, and a small coffee shop and deli near the Tropic Air counter. The sandwiches there are actually pretty good, too.
Tropic Air operates a host of 14 passenger Cessna Caravans operating flights all over Belize as well as into Cancun and Merida in Mexico, Flores in Guatemala, and San Pedro Sula in Honduras. The pilots are good and the planes reliable. There's no assigned seating, you simply pile on board when you're called and find a seat. Their website has pretty strict restrictions on weight limits and amounts of baggage: "Tropic Air permits each passenger one (1) carry on and two (2) checked bags with the following dimensions: allowable carry on size accepted are personal bags such as a purse or small backpack with a maximum weight of 15 lbs. Due to limited cabin space, all carry on must fit in your lap. Each checked bag has a maximum weight of 33 lbs, limited to 62"x30"x15#. Excess and oversized baggage will be evaluated, charges assessed, and will be shipped on a space available basis."
Fortunately, the flights are almost never full and we have never actually seen them weigh a bag or stick to any of their baggage policies. We have regularly carried two carry-ons (rod tubes plus a backpack), our checked bags usually weighs closer to 50 pounds, and we've never had either questioned after numerous Tropic Air flights all over Belize.
The flight from BZE to Placencia takes about 30 minutes, taking you south over Belize City and paralleling the coastline as it traveled past Dangriga and Hopkins before touching down on the narrow runway at Placencia.
Upon arrival in Placencia you will de-plane and stroll across the tarmac to the one-room, colonial-style building that serves as the Tropic Air "terminal." Someone from the lodge will be there to greet you, who will load your luggage into a van for the 5 minute drive through Placencia to the dock where you will board the boat for the transfer to the lodge.
The boat ride takes about 45 minutes to the small island where Tarpon Caye is located. The boat and all of your gear will be unloaded, and you will be shown to your room to unpack, settle in, and take in the panoramic views of the Caribbean. Everything at Tarpon Caye is informal, and structured around a laid back island lifestyle, and hard-core permit fishing regime.
On the final day, you will depart the island about two hours before your scheduled departure time from Placencia, which allows time for the 45 minute boat ride into town, 5-10 minute drive to the airport, and check in 45 minutes or so before the flight.
The 30 minute flight from Placencia to Belize City will take you back to the main airport, upon which time you'll have to walk across the terminal from the domestic arrivals area to the main terminal for departing flights, where you'll have to check in for your international flights.
The earliest flight departs Placencia for BZE at 6:55 am, but this flight is too early to make the transfer from Tarpon Caye. The next flight is at 9:00 am, which is easily do-able from the lodge (although flying out that early limits the time that you might have to fish on that last morning).
Regardless, you'll want to schedule international flights departing no earlier than 11:00 am to ensure that you have time to get from Tarpon Caye to Placencia, to BZE, check in, clear security, and board your flight.
Lodging at Tarpon Caye Lodge
Tarpon Caye Lodge features four comfortable cabanas, perched on a private island in the heart of some of the best permit flats in the world. The three "private" cabanas sit right over the ocean; there is another two-bedroom cabana that sits just off the private white sand beach. Every cabana has a panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea. Guests wake up in the morning, coffee in hand, to observe a breathtaking sunrise while watching rays, permit, and tarpon frolicking just off their back deck.
There's nothing fancy here, except the view. Each of the cabanas are clean, spacious, and cozy, perfect for a fisherman's holiday. There are tiled floors, all double beds with new, comfortable mattresses, writing table and chair, private en suite bathrooms with plenty of hot/cold water, and a private balcony overlooking the Caribbean with deck chairs and hammock. There is no air conditioning, as the large personal fans combined with constant sea breeze blowing through the screened windows keep the indoor temperatures comfortable throughout the year.
Meals are a tasty Belizean treat, incorporating local specialties and lots of fresh seafood. The fishing grounds are close, so guests can often come back to the lodge for lunch and an afternoon siesta before returning to the flats.
Fishing at Tarpon Caye Lodge
The guides at Tarpon Caye Lodge Belize have a fisherman's work ethic, and fish the flats based on the tides, not the time of day. If the tides are best for permit on the flats at first light, the guides will have you up and on the flats at first light. All of the fishing is very close to the lodge, so if the flats are too high or too low, they will often return to the lodge to relax until the conditions are better on the flats. The fishing days are long, focused on the best times to be in the right places, thereby
increasing every anglers odds at hooking the most persnickety fish on the flats, the permit!
While permit is certainly the focus here, there are both resident and migratory tarpon that call these waters home. There is a reason it is called Tarpon Caye! A school of tarpon can be found just behind the lodge almost every day of the year. There are several areas that also hold bonefish, so Saltwater Grand Slams are always a possibility.
The fishing program is based around permit fishing, specifically targeting the best tides and times of day for the shallow flats near the lodge. There are some resident and migratory tarpon around which can also provide a diversion when the tides aren't ideal for permit on the flats, and there are a few schools of bonefish around making Grand Slams a real possibility.
You'll fish when the timing is best for the fish, not the meal schedule. As such, the fishing day at Tarpon Caye often begins early with a pot of steaming coffee and a hot breakfast ready to go minutes later. Ultimately, conditions predicate much of the angling day at Tarpon Caye. If conditions are ideal, the guides will have anglers in the boat as the sun comes up, to be in the water ready to cast as soon as you can see.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• The waters around Placenica in Southern Belize are the best in the world for sight-casting to tailing permit in very shallow water. Countless small “pancake” flats pop up out of the deep water between mainland Belize and the Barrier Reef; the deep water provides safety for huge populations of permit, while the proximity to the myriad pancake flats allows these fish to rush onto the flats on every incoming tide to feed in the shallow water. It’s simply amazing how many of these elusive fish you’ll see feeding every day in this area, their distinctive black tails splashing and tantalizing even the most dedicated permit anglers.
• Tarpon Caye Lodge is perched on a private island in the middle of these exquisite permit fishing grounds. Many of the most productive flats are within sight of the colored lodge bungalows, and it’s rare to have more than a 5 minute boat ride to the next flat loaded with tailing permit. You’ll spend less time running in a boat, and more time hunting permit.
• The hard-core fishing program at Tarpon Caye is based on fishing the tides. If that means you’re on the water before the sun comes up, or as it sets…that’s when you’ll be on the water. The close proximity to the lodge allows guides and anglers to fish when the fishing is good, and rest or relax when the tides are flat and the fish are nowhere to be found. You maximize your time on the water during the most productive times.
• The experienced team of guides at Tarpon Caye are some of the best of the business. Not only do they know these flats like the backs of their hands, they are also hard working and passionate about what they do. They’ll do whatever it takes to put you onto permit. They’re also laid back, easy-going by nature, so they aren’t going to yell at you when you make an errant cast or trout-set on a feeding permit. Every day on the water with them is a learning opportunity and a fun day of fishing.
• Tarpon Caye offers more than just great permit fishing. This part of Belize has resident tarpon every month of the year, and several cayes with schools of bonefish. While permit remain the primary target, there are opportunities to cast to other species, and even try for the ultimate saltwater fly fishing prize – the Grand Slam!
• The secluded, private island location is an ideal spot for non-anglers, couples, and families wanting to get away from it all. The snorkeling off the back deck of the cabanas is incredible, and an afternoon sojourn in one of the lodge’s complimentary kayaks is a peaceful island safari complete with diving pelicans, dozens of colorful reef fish, even manatees and dolphins common companions. Everyone at Tarpon Caye will enjoyable a wonderful, private island holiday.