Southern Belize’s Copal Tree Lodge is an idyllic high-end jungle hideaway overlooking the Rio Grande River in the ‘Green Heart of Belize’. Its location, setting, beautiful grounds, impeccable food, and service rank it among the finest destinations in the Caribbean, and it’s perfect for couples, families, and anglers looking to combine a fishing trip with exciting activities and first-class amenities. Found in the southern region of Belize, around the sleepy town of Punta Gorda, an area relatively unimpacted by tourism. It’s just far enough away from Belize City and the resorts of Ambergris Cay in the north to stay largely unexplored, and, more importantly, its waters get seldom fished.
Travelling saltwater fly fishing anglers visiting the Lodge will have the chance to fish the Caribbean flats, which are just a short ten-minute boat ride away and the banks of the Rio Grande River, where the Lodge is situated. Most anglers who choose the Lodge do so for the world-class Permit fishing on offer on the flats. However, the area around Copal Tree Lodge (formerly known as Belcampo) on the Rio Grande River is also famed for its opportunities for Bonefish, Tarpon and Snook, providing anglers with the chance to experience some truly mixed fishing.
Copal Tree Lodge is the ideal saltwater fly fishing destination for those looking to disconnect and recharge, surrounded by nature – in harmony with sustainable living and indulging in luxurious amenities.
The fishing at Copal Tree Lodge gets split into two area’s, the saltwater flats of the Caribbean Sea, located just ten minutes from the accommodation and the Rio Grande River, which it overlooks.
The Rio Grande River is home to an abundant population of Tarpon, Snook, Snappers and Jacks, all of which are more than willing to engulf an anglers lure or fly. A typical session on the river consists of winding the way down the stretch, from the Lodge down the estuary mouth, on one of the Lodges 23-foot Mexican super pangas with a dedicated guide, casting at the mangroves and overhanging vegetation. The guides at Copal Tree are all local to the region of Southern Belize and can customize each day’s itinerary based on an anglers fishing preference and style.
Families and semi-serious anglers will find the river fishing trips ideal for connecting with nature and exploring the Belizean jungle. But, for more experienced anglers, a trip to the saltwater flats is highly recommended.
Copal Tree Lodge is renowned as a world-class Permit destination among keen saltwater fly fishing anglers, and these notoriously finicky feeders often get found in huge numbers. Thanks to the protected marine reserve near Punta Gorda and the numerous small keys and medium-sized flats that provide an ideal Permit habitat, these fish have thrived.
In addition to Permit, the waters near Punta Gorda are also home to significant numbers of Bonefish. The Bones get traditionally found in the large lagoon north of Punta Gorda and the Sopadilla Keys, located on the edge of Belize’s vast barrier reef system, around an hours steam away from the Lodge. Once again, the fishing gets conducted from 23-foot Mexican super pangas whilst in the very competent hands of your dedicated saltwater fly fishing guide.
The fishing in and around Punta Gorda is focused almost entirely on Permit, although at Copal Tree Lodge, there is access to schools of Bonefish, as well as juvenile Tarpon and Snook.
The waters around Copal Tree are well-known as the ‘Permit Capital of the World’, and for those anglers searching for one of the best regions on earth to hunt these finicky fish on the flats, there is nowhere better than southern Belize. Most days in this area will see dozens of Permit in a day, sometimes in large schools and sometimes tailing as singles and pairs in very shallow water. If you’re fortunate, you might even hook one of these incredibly wary fish, and a great day of Permit fishing is a single hook up or just several quality chances in a day. So landing a permit is always cause for celebration but never an expectation.
One of the challenges of Permit fishing is that they are more of a deeper water fish than a flats fish like Bonefish. Although not always on the flats, when they are, they tend to favour ground with proximity to deeper water, which is one thing that makes Punta Gorda so prolific; it has just the right blend of deeper water and isolated flats.
In addition to Permit, the waters near Punta Gorda are also home to Tarpon, Snook and Bonefish. The outer reef islands, called Sapodilla Cayes, offer reliable opportunities for Bones, and it can be well worth the longer boat ride of around about an hour, to reach these shallow grounds. Once there, anglers can expect to see huge schools of fish on the hard sand flats, and there are great opportunities for both wading and polling from the boat. The Bonefish in this area average 2lb to 3lb, while 4lb to 5lb fish regularly gets landed.
The river systems, including the Rio Grande itself upon which Copal Tree Lodge sits, offers additional opportunities to fish for Snook and juvenile Tarpon from 10lb to 50lb. This jungle fishing can be a great diversion from the flats and provides an outstanding ‘backup’ option when big winds or diverse weather pummels the open ocean.
Tarpon and Snook fishing is best in the river from the Lodge down the estuary mouth, and the fish can often get seen rolling in the river. Early mornings or evenings, low light times of day, are best for targeting these resident fish populations. Punta Gorda isn’t a top location for both species, but if you want an ego boost from the famously fickle Permit, they’re a great option and provide some fantastic sport.
One of Copal Tree Lodge’s biggest draws for the travelling saltwater fly fishing angler is the wide range of extra activities on offer. It’s one of the best locations in the Caribbean to blend world-class fishing with eco-tourism and is ideal for families and couples looking to combine the two. Along with a range of traditional activities like horseback riding, hiking and sightseeing, the Lodge offers a range of fantastic, somewhat unique activities.
A small fleet of sea kayaks and canoes are free for guests to use at the Lodge, and paddling up the river to enjoy a unique view of the pristine rain forest while listening to howler monkeys and a vast array of tropical birds is one of the most popular activities. While some guided trips are on offer, we recommended having an afternoon at your leisure paddling up the lazy river to enjoy the birdlife and Jurrasic Park-like setting.
One of the most fun on-sight activities is the bean to bar chocolate class, where it’s possible to participate in every step of the chocolate creation process, from harvesting cocoa beans to pouring the chocolate into moulds.
Another exciting activity is one referred to as ‘snorkelling with the chef’. Here guests can either spend either a half-day or full-day snorkelling with one of Copal Tree Lodge’s resident chefs hunting for dinner, which usually consists of conch, fish or lobster. The chef will then prepare a delicious evening meal using the ingredients harvested earlier in the day.
The caving tour is easily the most adventurous activity on offer at the Lodge. After a hike of around thirty minutes through a moderately complex rainforest trail, you’ll arrive at the famous landmark. A small river travels underground for several miles in the cave system and exits at the cave’s mouth, and it’s easy to lose an hour or two swimming in the waters and exploring deep into the cave system.
Another highlight of the destination is the Punta Gorda Market. The market is open daily and is a great location to see and sample many local exotic fruits, vegetables, and spices. There are also several small restaurants and bars to enjoy a local Belizean meal and Belikin beer.
This deluxe jungle lodge represents the finest accommodations of any of southern Belize’s hard-core Permit destinations. Copal Tree features private suites offering the best in luxury and comfort. Nearly every detail is a testament to Belize’s natural beauty and craftsmanship, from the woodwork to the tiles to the artwork. So whether you’re relaxing on the canopy beds or lounging on your private veranda, you will experience the magic of the jungle within the comfort of your room.
Copal Tree Lodge has sixteen private suites and one three-bedroom villa, all complete with breathtaking views of the jungle and extensive resort amenities.
Nestled in lush rainforest foliage, the Jungle Suites are the perfect home away from home to experience all that Copal Tree Lodge has to offer. The suites include a private bathroom with a walk-in shower containing floor-to-ceiling jungle views, a sitting area, and a screened-in balcony. The King Jungle Suites include a king-size bed and sofa bed, and the double Queen Jungle Suites have two queen-size beds. Each offers air conditioning, a ceiling fan, a small fridge (upon request), a hairdryer, safe, complimentary WiFi, bathrobes, and umbrellas.
Escape to a world above the treetops for a panoramic view of the jungle canopy by staying in one of the Copal Tree Lodge Canopy Suites, the most luxurious accommodation option available.
Each spacious suite is elegantly designed to make your stay an unforgettable experience. Suites include a king-sized bed, daybed, sitting area, private veranda with jungle views, outdoor tub and a spacious bathroom with a walk-in shower with floor-to-ceiling jungle views. Each suite also offers air conditioning, a ceiling fan, a small fridge (upon request), a hairdryer, safe, complimentary WiFi, bathrobes, and umbrellas. Access the private Signature Canopy Suite section of the jungle lodge by riding the tram from the lobby.
The three-bedroom family villa, located in its own area of jungle, provides a beautiful retreat for your group or family to experience the luxury of the Lodge with all the comforts of home. It includes three bedrooms, one with a king bed and two with queen beds, and sleeps up to 6 guests. There are two bathrooms with showers, two private screened-in porches with jungle views, a private sunbathing veranda, private parking, a full kitchen, and a living room. The Family Villas offer air conditioning, ceiling fans, hairdryers, a safe and complimentary WiFi.
Copal Tree is a farm-to-table operation, and over 70% of the food served is produced within the Lodges grounds. An incredible variety of fruits and vegetables are grown on-site in addition to chickens, pigs and goats. In every direction, citrus trees, coffee plants, cocoa trees, sugar cane fields, chicken coops, and a vast array of fruit and vegetable gardens populate the surroundings. Delicious, authentic food is at the core of the Copal Tree experience, and guests enjoy an authentic experience of Belizian flavours. We thoroughly recommend spending an hour on the daily farm tour to get an insight into this fantastic operation.
The Garden Table Restaurant can accommodate various diets, including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or dairy-free. Copal Tree Lodge offers a culinary experience to be remembered!
Located in the heart of the main Lodge, the Copal Tree Rum Bar is the place to relax and unwind at the end of each day. A central lounge is surrounded by cool, shaded decks perched within the jungle canopy. Here you will find complimentary WiFi, a collection of culinary and botanical books, magazines, and games for the occasional rainy day. Cocktails and complimentary snacks are served each day at 6pm. Freshly squeezed juices, coconuts, limes, exotic fruits, and fresh herbs are combined with spirits, emphasising the best homegrown Belizean rum.
To find out more about saltwater fly fishing in Belize at the Copal Tree Lodge, visit our YouTube channel.
The below itinerary is flexible should you require additional fishing days or additional free days to explore; we can tailor this itinerary to suit you personally. Feel free to talk to our travel consultants who can explain all options available.
Depart UK (alternative routes available)
When you have arrived in Miami take a taxi to your overnight hotel. (Taxi not included)
Overnight accommodation: Miami Airport Hotel (Twin Room) B/B
In the morning take a taxi back to the international airport.
Upon arrival at Belize International Airport, you’ll be met by your own personal Copal Tree airport concierge who will assist you in making the connecting flight to Punta Gorda.
Arrive Punta Gorda
Once you arrive in Punta Gorda, you will be greeted by a Copal Tree representative, who will help you gather your luggage and then transfer you to the Lodge, which is around a 20-minute drive away.
Overnight accommodation: Copal Tree Lodge (Twin Room) F/B
Over the next six days, you will be fishing with each day customised to suit your fishing preference and style. If you have booked any additional non-fishing days you’ll have the chance to enjoy all the facilities which the wonderful Lodge has to offer, as well as the opportunity to book a whole host of other activities.
Overnight accommodation: Blue Horizon Lodge Belize (Twin Room) F/B
On departure day you’ll be transferred to Punta Gorda Airport by a Copal Tree Lodge representative.
Depart Punta Gorda
Arrive Belize Depart Belize
Arrive Miami Depart Miami
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 94%
"We loved our stay at Copal Tree. We were extremely impressed by the commitment and passion of the resort team. The food was fantastic and the bar was outstanding, a special thanks to Ducky! My husband absolutely loved the fishing too. Me, I loved the chocolate making!"
"What can I say, it was absolutely superb! The Permit fishing was a little tough, but it didn't matter. Coming back to Copal Tree after being on the water was to enter a jungle paradise - a dip in the pool, a cocktail on the deck, a superb dinner, followed by a cigar and single malt on the deck and then back to the room for a wonderful sleep. It couldn't have been any better!"
"I stayed at Copal Tree Lodge for a week of fly fishing for Permit. Although the fishing was tough the stay at the lodge was great. The rooms were stunning and the food was phenomenal, the Shrimp Ducky on the dinner menu was almost worth the trip on its own!"
The season runs from All Year Round.
Season: All Year
Peak: All Year
Weight: 2lb to 40lb
Average Weight: 10lb
Season: All Year
Peak: All Year
Weight: 2lb to 12lb
Average Weight: 3.5lb
Season: All Year
Peak: May to October
Weight: 5lb to 100lb
Average Weight: 30lb
Season: All Year
Peak: All Year
Weight: 2lb to 15lb
Average Weight: 10lb
Remember that Sportquest Holidays' services are completely FREE! When you book a trip with Sportquest Holidays, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge and flights independently.
Prices are based on two anglers sharing transfers, fishing and accommodation (unless otherwise stated) and are correct at the time of going to press. Subject to time of year or date and currency fluctuations, these prices may fluctuate slightly due to flight price increases or fuel surcharges.
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