Bermuda: It’s a quick getaway to a relaxing and flourishing small island just two hours from the East Coast. Pink sand and blue waters are only part of your getaway here. You’ll enjoy a rich British heritage with a Caribbean twist that manifests itself in art, architecture, shopping, dining, and even sports such as cricket, tennis and golf. In short, it adds up to a rich and varied escape.
One surprise to many travel planners: Bermuda is not in the Caribbean or the tropics. It’s as far north as the Carolinas, so if you are into the beach and water sports scene – you’ll want to go in the summer from late May through early November.
Speaking about beaches, there’s tremendous variety from secluded coves encircled by rocks to crowded beaches with full facilities. The best ones are on the south side of the 18-mile long J-shaped island which is at most a mile and a half wide. Our cover photo is from one of the coves at Horseshoe Bay Beach where we enjoyed a relaxing morning.
The best snorkeling is found offshore, and the tours leave from Dockyard, on the island’s southwest end. The coral was healthy, and the underwater visibility was good. We used Hat Trick Charters for our a wonderful snorkeling experience.
For those seeking a more underground, not underwater experience, there’s Crystal Caves. There, on the northeast side of the island, you’ll find tours showing you intricate limestone stalactites and stalagmites surrounding a 55-foot deep subterranean lake. Beautiful! If the cave didn’t chill you enough, a nearby Bailey’s Ice Cream will do the trick. On the other hand, if it left you too chilled, there’s the rum swizzle at the nearby Swizzle Inn.
The city of Hamilton, on the north side, is where most of the culture and shopping happens. While there, we were lucky enough to board a tall ship from Portugal which was in port on a trans-Atlantic training voyage. Street entertainment happens regularly, including the performance of Gombey dancers. These masked, male dancers move to the beat of African drums in their colorful costumes – a unique cultural ritual.
Other shopping, dining, and entertainment centers are at Dockyard and St. George on the eastern end. Since we are putt-putt golf connoisseurs, we got a kick out of Bermuda Fun Golf at Dockyard whose holes represent six of the best “holes” found on U.S., Bermuda, and Scottish courses. St. George is a charming 400-year old settlement with art galleries and restaurants. It’s more authentic than the Dockyard end which is engulfed by cruise ship visitors.
Part of the fun of Bermuda is just jaunting about. The view from Gibbs Hill lighthouse is worth the grueling walk up the hill and then the staircase. Ferries crisscross the harbor on several routes and go past countless pastel houses with manicured lawns and flower beds. Do slather yourself with suntan lotion since the sun is deceptively strong here in summer.
Part of our jaunt was adoring the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art whose theme is Bermuda through the eyes of artists. Denise loved the sculpture in front that memorialized John Lennon who experienced a late-in-life career revival here. David loved the 1950’s Pan Am Clipper travel posters, one of which glorified moped travel in Audrey Hepburn, “Roman Holiday” style.
Speaking about moped, you did know that you cannot rent a car on Bermuda? All travel must be by moped or bus. We shied away from the moped because of the windy roads where everyone drives on the left. We opted for a weekly bus pass instead. Though the routes take you everywhere, it does clip your style a bit. There were many places we wanted to stop to photograph but couldn’t.
The other area where Bermuda is challenging is lodging. The intimate bed and breakfast, boutique hotel style that we love is in short supply here. We were very fortunate to find one with a secluded pool, and that was only because we made reservations 5 months ahead of time. Flights here are reasonably priced, as are cruises (we avoid them because of the limited shore time) but lodging is expensive.
Other than those few challenges, Bermuda awaits. And, I’ve only covered part of the museums, gardens, shops, and events that make this sophisticated island special. Yes, you can have an amazing long weekend here, but I bet you’ll want to come back when you can spend an entire week.
And…to make the trip home easier, you will clear U.S. customs in Bermuda. However, still read my article on how to avoid the long lines.
Two Humorous Memoirs for the Price of One
First, we weren’t the only ones to find our secluded B&B’s pool inviting. We heard another guest scream at 7 AM when she went to swim, but discovered these huge marine toads to be skinny dipping in our exclusive digs. The proprietor promptly scooped up the critters including their trail of eggs. The expressions on the toad’s and guests’ faces were priceless.
Second, when in Bermuda, do as the Bermudans do. I (David) bought a genuine pair of Bermuda shorts just to dress up for a first-class dinner. My 20-something daughter who saw this post just about died of embarrassment.