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The Backstage Pass

Ultimate Guide: 10 Lodges With Ecotourism and Diving Programs

May 03, 23

Something that’s becoming popular and something that’s heard every day in the Yellow Dog office is the request from anglers looking for diving and ecotour options to complement their fishing.

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The Caribbean lodges offer incredible diving opportunities in the crystal-clear waters, and a handful of Yellow Dog lodges are located in or near nature preserves. For brevity’s sake, we’ll only focus on lodges in the Caribbean, including Mexico, The Bahamas, and Belize.


Copal Tree Lodge
The southern waters of Belize near Punta Gorda hold large numbers of permit. But aside from the great fishing, Copal Tree Lodge has access to jungle activities such as hiking, biking, birdwatching, kayaking, river tours, or exploring the lodge’s gardens and farms where much of the food is produced. Activities off the Copal Tree property include snorkeling, manatee watching, and cave tubing in the Tiger and Hokeb Ha caves.

Copal Tree Lodge also offers divers to sites on the Belize Barrier Reef. All instructors are PADI certified, and experts, as well as beginners, are welcome. Explore the reef full of sea fans, coral, and every color of tropical fish, seahorses, rays, eels, and turtles. For divers who want to see whale sharks specifically, be sure to plan your visit between March and June.

El Pescador Lodge
El Pescador is one of Yellow Dog’s most sought-after lodges offering anglers chances at bonefish, tarpon, and permit. The fishing can be incredible, but the ecotourism and diving options are not to be overlooked. Nearby Mayan ruins provide endless discoveries, and bicycles provide guests the freedom to explore the area at their own pace. Take a sea kayak and explore the crystal-clear waters of the reef, or attend a naturalist excursion to see the beauty of the Belizean jungles.

El Pescador offers diving for all skill levels by PADI-certified instructors. Divers can explore the barrier reef that stretches the entire coast of Belize. Be amazed by how small you feel while diving in the coral-formed-canyons where tunnels and caves lace their way through the living walls of the canyon. With turtles, eels, grouper, rays, parrotfish, triggerfish, seahorses, and the occasional hammerhead shark, divers are immersed in the incredible marine life of the protected waters.

Turneffe Flats Lodge
When anglers aren’t chasing bonefish and permit, many non-fishing activities are available. Guests with a naturalist side will be amazed to find that Turneffe Atoll is one of the largest nesting sites for the endangered American Crocodile. But don’t be scared because, unlike their Australian and African cousins. Or, if reptiles aren’t enticing, take a birdwatching tour and see if you can count the more than 60 different species. And then, for people wanting to stay in the water, feel free to snorkel the reef and keep an eye open for the bottlenose dolphins and Manatees.

Turneffe Flats offers some of the world’s best diving, and the lodge has access to more than 60 different dive sites. Divers can explore the extensive reef, all under the guidance of PADI certified instructors. Both experts and beginners are welcome to join the lodge’s dive program.

Turneffe Island Resort
Bonefish and permit are the main focus for anglers at Turneffe Island Resort. But for guests who want a break from the fishing or just want to partake in a different activity for the day can dive with the lodge’s PADI-certified instructors. Beginners and experts can dive in the Sayonara Wreck or cave dive 130 feet in the Great Blue Hole. The lodge has six Dive Masters and has access to 32 different dive sites.

Victoria House
Bonefish, permit, and tarpon are all found in the fisheries near the lodge. But on top of the amazing fishing, Victoria House also has everything for the guest seeking an eco-oriented trip. Naturalist excursions can be arranged, and guests can enjoy looking at the various tropical birds. Belize also has a large population of Manatees; guests can take a boat ride and view the gentle giants in the clear flats water.

All the lodges just listed provide excellent fishing as well as eco-tours. However, for the ultimate fishing and eco-tour package, pair any one of the lodges with The Lodge at Chaa Creek. The Lodge at Chaa Creek is located inland along the banks of the Macal River. It’s the perfect location for jungle excursions, Mayan ruins, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, and canoeing on the river. The lodge also has a Natural History Centre, Butterfly Farm, and Rainforest Medicine Trail. And of course, there’s some really good fishing on the river as well.

The Bahamas

Small Hope Bay
Small Hope Bay should definitely be at the top of your list if you want to chase bonefish. But with the lodge’s proximity to the second largest reef in the world, the lodge offers snorkeling and diving programs. Beginners and expert divers can be guided by PADI-certified instructors exploring the large reef teeming with marine life.

For people looking for ecotour options, sea kayaking, sailing, and Batik lessons are available. Guests can enjoy the paradise chocked full of exotic birds and biodiversity. Andros Island, where Small Hope Bay Lodge is located, is the least developed landmass in the Caribbean. Small Hope Bay Lodge is a great option for anyone looking for a natural, relaxing vacation.

Kamalame Cay Resort
This private island resort spoils guests when it comes to the amazing flats fishing, and luxury amenities. However, the lodge offers some great options for non-angling activities. With the lodge’s concierge services, guests can arrange for a hike through the woods, tour Red Bay Village, take a windsurfing lesson, meander the flats in a sea kayak, or snorkel the warm Caribbean waters.

For diving, Kamalame can cater to any skill level. Onsite PADI courses are available as well as online. Guests can dive at one of the lodge’s various dive sites. Explore the barrier reef swimming through chasms of coral. King Kong Blue Hole is a popular spot where divers can spot parrotfish, jacks, and sea fans. Diving in Belize is possibly the best in the world. If you come for fishing or just for diving, in either case, you’ll have an experience you won’t forget.

Stella Maris Resort
Incredible flats fishing paired with activities suited for everyone makes Stella Maris Resort a bucket list destination. This secluded resort offers ecotour packages, providing a Sandy Cay, Exuma boat excursion. Island hopping offers adventure while interacting with the local wildlife. Borrow a bicycle, take a sea kayak or sailboat out on the flats, or explore a cave.

Stella Maris offers certification diving courses under the supervision of seasoned instructors. Dive into shipwrecks, sprawling coral, or deep holes. Dive with turtles, dolphins, rays, and all types of fish. You may even spot a bull shark, nurse shark, or a hammerhead if you're lucky. 


Costa de Cocos Lodge
Anglers who want to pursue bonefish, permit, tarpon, barracuda, jacks, snapper, and snook will be hard-pressed to find a better location than Costa de Cocos. However, the lodge is nestled in the jungles of the southern Yucatan peninsula with the Caribbean out the front door. When not fishing, guests can explore the Mayan ruins, kayak the secluded lagoons, discover the wonders of the reef snorkeling, or observe the many migratory birds that pass through the southern Yucatan Peninsula.

Xcalak Reef National Marine Park is literally a stone’s throw away from the lodge. Divers can join any of the lodge’s Dive Masters to experience walls, canyons, chimneys, blue holes, as well as abundant marine life such as turtles, eels, rays, tropical fish, and of course, the awe-inspiring coral of the reef. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, all are welcome to discover the reef while diving.

Grand Slam Lodge
For snorkeling and eco-tours, this is a hard lodge to beat. Guests will be awestruck with Mayan ruins nearby and ecotours in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, providing incredible birdwatching. The biosphere also is home to four different types of turtles, as a diversity of fish species. 

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