Going to Bermuda? Lucky you, because Bermuda is a happy, fun island, surrounded by bright blue/green water, and covered with hibiscus and lush jungle-green vegetation. Plus, Bermudians are all nice! I wonder if it’s because Bermuda’s population is only 60,000 people and the island is relatively small (22 square miles).
SEE THE SIGHTS
- Scooter around the island—It’s really fun! Plus, the speed limit for cars and scooters is only 20 m.p.h. (and everyone obeys it) so the likelihood of being run over is low.
- Check out the island’s Bermuda National Trust gardens and historic properties. Elle Décor especially liked the Verdmont Museum (Collector’s Hill, Smith’s Parish), describing it as a “house museum treasure.”
- Try out every beach: there are MANY, all gorgeous and uncrowded. They really are pink! That’s because tiny pieces of broken coral are interspersed with the sand.
- One of the BEST beach walks–is from stunning Horseshoe Bay to the Swizzle Inn. It’s dotted with many gorgeous coves, including heavenly Jobson Cove. Timing: This walk should be done at low tide because it includes a series of beaches interrupted by rocky promontories, most of which can be walked around at low tide but not at high tide. Note: While the Swizzle Inn is not great, you can sit on its road-side terrace and try a Rum Swizzle, the island’s signature drink.
- Gibbs Hill Lighthouse–built in 1844, this is the oldest cast iron lighthouse in the world…it also provides GREAT big views of the island, as it is on a hilltop; one can also dine here.
- Somerset Bridge–if you are into Lilliputian draw bridges, this sight’s for you! I must admit, it’s pretty charming. Its’ opening is 18″, just wide enough for a sailboat to pass through.
- Royal Naval Dockyard–19th century dockyard with an excellent museum and fort…and beautiful, high-up views of Bermuda, plus shops and restaurants
- Take the ferry from the Royal Navy Dockyard to St. George’s–it’s efficient, clean, inexpensive, and a great way to see all of Bermuda’s southern coast from the water; also, it motors inside the reef (no exposure to rough seas) so is quite comfortable.
- Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital, is quietly attractive with pastel-painted buildings, but the main reasons to visit are the following……
- Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute: so interesting!
- Bermuda National Gallery (in City Hall, 17 Church St.)–lovely paintings of and by Bermudians and non Bermudians alike, like Winslow Homer
- Royal Yacht Club (15 Pt. Pleasant Rd.)–is private but if you can get a letter of introduction, it’s worth it because it is old (built in 1844, one of the oldest royal yacht clubs in the world) and beautiful, w/a lovely terrace overlooking the very snazzy boats docked there
- Fort Hamilton (NE corner)— Civil War era fort that now features terraced gardens
- Bermuda Botanical Gardens (169 South Rd., Paget Parish)—36 acres of specimens. John Lennon named his “Double Fantasy” album after the Double Fantasy freesia he spotted here.
- Crystal Cave (8 Crystal Ca Rd.)–Floating pontoon pathways span a 55′ deep azure blue underground lake, beautifully lit up for tourists. Above the lake are gorgeous white stalactites, soda straws and helectite formations.
- St. George’s–charming, historic town AND a UNESCO World Heritage Site; oldest continuously inhabited town of English origin in the New World, with fortifications built in 1612…lovely streets and houses with some decent shopping and waterside dining opp’s; be sure to visit!
- St. Peter’s Church –Located in St. George’s, this is the oldest Protestant church in continuous use in the New World, est. 1612
- Mid Ocean Club–This private club’s décor is cold, though location is dramatically pretty. A friend of mine, who has been going to Bermuda for years, told me the MOC has the best golf on the island.
Seasonal Sights Of Note
- Every spring, the Garden Club of Bermuda sponsors the Open Houses and Gardens Tour. Wouldn’t that be glorious?! www.bermudatourism.com
- At midnight every New Year’s Eve, they drop a giant Bermuda Onion in the town square at St. George’s…think a MUCH tamer version of NYC’s Time Square ball drop
- The 35th Americas Cup will be hosted in Bermuda in June of 2017
- Coral Beach Club (on the south shore)–Pure heaven! BUT, this is a private club, so you can only stay there with a letter of intro from a reciprocal club. Beautiful uncrowded beach, good food, dining and dancing on the terrace several stories above the beach, nice staff and happy rooms, some with balconies. The Crow’s Nest cottage is the best! Nobel Prize-winning playwright, Eugene O’Neill, wrote “Desire Under the Elms” and “The Great God Brown” in the Crow’s Nest. Tennis, putting, and croquet. CAUTION: If you like the beige, no-rough-edges at all, faux-luxury of a Ritz-Carlton, the CBC is not for you. But if you like old-world elegance with one or two very small imperfections, beeline to the CBC! (40 rooms)
- Cambridge Beaches (on western tip of the island)–lovely, refined, off on its own, croquet, pink cottages with white roofs, putt-putt, beautifully and cheerfully decorated (87 rooms, in the form of cottages, spread out over the property)
- Rosedon Hotel (w/in walking distance of Hamilton)–recommended by Elle Décor; a former family estate, the RH is surrounded by gardens and a pool; looks really pretty on its website! (39 rooms)
- Rosewood Tucker’s Point (in Hamilton Parish)–The web site looks a bit cold but Travel + Leisure (2014) and Andrew Harper recommended it (2015), and Mr. And Mrs. Smith Hotels give it 4 (out of 5) stars. It has golf, a spa and a beach club. (88 rooms)
- Granaway Guest House (Warwick Parish)–recommended by Travel + Leisure (2014) and Trip Advisor describes it as a “great value”; no beach but pool (4 rooms)
While the following don’t appeal to me because I prefer small hotels, they are mentioned in every travel article:
- Fairmont Hamilton Princess (76 Pitts Bay Road, Hamilton Parish)–overlooks the Hamilton harbor and a five-minute walk to Hamilton. Not on the beach but it has a beach club (157 rooms)
- Fairmont Southampton Princess (101 S. Shore Rd., Southampton)–HUGE w/all the amenities you would expect from a biiiiig resort. (593 rooms)
EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY
Bermuda is not a foodie destination. In general, the restaurants serve mediocre, expensive food…and that is the ONLY imperfect thing about Bermuda. However, the island specialty is fish chowder, and it is mmmm, mmmm, good!
- Marcus (Hamilton Princess Hotel)–I have not been here but plan to on my next trip because its chef, Marcus Samuelsson (of Red Rooster in Harlem, NY fame), is highly acclaimed!
- The Dining Room (at the base of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse)–super spectacular views at night! The restaurant is small so be sure to make reservations.
- Hamilton is Bermuda’s shopping hub.
- William Bluck (4 Front Street)–GORGEOUS crystal and china, in biz for 160+ years; in addition to all the usual high-end brands, they have a several lovely Bermuda-centric china patterns, such as Bermuda Reef Fish and Bermuda Flowers, both by Herend
- Island Shop (3 Queen St.)–The IS sells informal serving dishes, linens, home décor items, and all things Bermuda and bright.
- The English Sports Shop (49 Front St.)—reasonably-priced, traditional men’s (& some ladies’) clothes. “Since 1918, the home of the original Bermuda shorts,” per its website.
- St. George’s
- Lili Bermuda (5 Queen St.)–very sweet little perfume shop and adjacent tea room.
- The English Sports Shop (30 Water St.)
WHEN TO GO
May to October is universally recommended but we also went for Easter & New Year’s Eve and had lovely weather.
Bermuda is more formal than the US, so consider that when packing. That said, the only places I encountered a dress code were private clubs.
-posted July 2016