Where to Go in Bermuda
City of Hamilton and Pembroke Parish
Whether you foray into “Town” for shopping, restaurants, or nightclubs, or use the capital (since 1815) as a base from which to explore the rest of the island, the city and its environs are a logical place to start a tour of the parishes. Hamilton currently has no hotels, but Pembroke has several good ones offering access to the city and bus and ferry terminals. Attractions include art galleries, parks, cathedrals, and an 1870s fort. Harbor cruises leave from the waterfront.
Devonshire and Paget Parishes
Deep country is found in Devonshire, with old estates, farmland, and seaside communities. Paget offers suburban attractions such as golf, tennis, and top-notch restaurants. Resorts and guesthouses abound in Paget, while colorful local eateries, churches, and nature reserves create Devonshire’s allure. Key attractions include the Arboretum, Bermuda Botanical Gardens, Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, and Elbow Beach.
Warwick and Southampton Parishes
Beach bums beware: You might never leave the pink-sand confines of these western parishes. This is the realm of scuba, water sports, horseback riding, and snorkeling, not to mention tennis, golf, and pampering spas at several major resorts. Jocks and sun-worshippers will find nirvana here. There are a few historical sites, including Gibbs Hill Lighthouse—providing the island’s best view. Both parishes offer a plethora of gourmet and comfort food, and accommodations to suit various budgets.
The historic military gems of the fortified Royal Naval Dockyard, including the National Museum of Bermuda, are the biggest collective magnet of the West End. The outer parish has a quaint, countrified character that invites gentle exploration. Somerset Village and its surroundings provide rural lanes to meander, plus shops, restaurants, and water sports. Deep-sea fishing boats are also based in this parish. One major resort and several guesthouses provide West End accommodation, but fast ferries from Hamilton can get you (and your scooter) here in 20 minutes.
Smith’s and Hamilton Parishes
Packed with attractions, Smith’s Parish and Hamilton Parish—not to be confused with the capital city—offer plenty to see, plus pretty pathways to the East End. Explore history and nature at Verdmont Museum, a historic home, before taking a hike at the 34-acre oceanfront bird sanctuary Spittal Pond Nature Reserve, both in Smith’s. Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo in Hamilton Parish is a favorite island attraction. The cave-honeycombed Harrington Sound provides a scenic route east, and several beautiful beaches—Shelly Bay Beach, John Smith’s Bay—are inviting distractions.
St. George’s Parish
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 400-year-old Town of St. George and its related forts in the East End appeal to history lovers. The parish incorporates the island’s first capital, along with the airport, the island of St. David’s, and outlying regions like Ferry Point National Park. Built by English settlers, St. George’s boasts winding streets, many landmarks, a public square, and a yacht-laden waterfront. Surrounding forts are a tribute to the British military heritage. Accommodations range from backstreet bed and breakfasts to a boutique Rosewood hotel.
When to Go to Bermuda
Bermuda is farther north than Caribbean hot spots, so don’t expect perfect weather all year round. The winter off-season (November–March) has average 68°F temperatures, compared to the high 80s of midsummer. Spring (April–May) and fall (September–November) are perhaps the most pleasant periods, especially October, as summer’s humidity falls away.
You may want to time your visit around cultural and sports events. Local favorites include Cup Match (a two-day cricket holiday in late July/early August) and Bermuda Day (May 24). Easter brings kites and Christmas boasts a boat parade and festival of lights. International events include the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts (dance, opera, theater) in January and February; October’s Argo Group Gold Cup (for match-race sailing) and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf; and November’s World Rugby Classic.
Before You Go to Bermuda
Passports, Visas, and Vaccinations
Don’t forget to pack your passport, return ticket, and accommodation details. Passports are preferred for entering Bermuda; all returning United States and Canadian citizens need valid passports. Visitors must show a return or departure ticket, or proof of transport out of the island, and it saves time to have handy your hotel/guesthouse address for the Department of Immigration officer. No vaccinations are needed for traveling to Bermuda.
Major airlines and cruise ships serve Bermuda daily from U.S. and Canadian gateway ports and cities, as well as the United Kingdom. On the island, you can rent a scooter (there are no cars for hire), tour the parishes by bus, or hop on reliable ferries. Taxis are relatively expensive but provide service to all nine parishes.
Hotels’ best rooms can become fully booked in the high season, particularly at popular small resorts, where repeat visitors book up to a year in advance. If you’re planning scuba outings, fishing trips, or golf/spa packages, you should arrange tee times, treatments, and reservations in advance. Tickets to premier events such as the PGA Grand Slam of Golf also need to be purchased early. Check for details.
Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Bermuda.