It may sound like a no-brainer as a destination for family holidays, but ironically, the island has received a bad rap over the years, mainly due to transportation challenges caused by the lack of rental cars. No doubt, it can be difficult managing the logistics of toddlers and public transport, but Bermuda’s payoff in terms of kiddie—and parent—satisfaction is more than worth it. For loads of ideas and a calendar of kid-friendly activities, from movies to outdoor festivals, check these popular island websites: www.nothingtodoinbermuda.com and www.bermudafamilyactivities.com. Tickets for movies and events can be purchased online at www.bdatix.com or www.premierticketsglobal.com.
Sights and Recreation
Even without set events or activities, there’s plenty for little ones to enjoy. Hop on to the bus or ferry to see the dolphins at Dockyard or the tunnels and treasure at Fort St. Catherine in the East End. Join young islanders at the half dozen government playgrounds around the parishes; Warwick Playground, Shelly Bay, and the mock pirate ship at Dockyard are particularly well-equipped. The Saturday morning City Market, held in the fall, winter, and spring at Bull’s Head Car Park in Hamilton, should also be on your hit list. Children can sample freshly baked banana bread, ogle hand-made jewelry, and take home some island honey.
There are special rates for children at most museums and sightseeing attractions; kids under five are usually admitted free. Don’t miss the big favorite, the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo in Flatts, or the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute in Pembroke, with its ride to the sea floor and a mock shark cage that will elicit nervous giggles. Like these educational facilities, the World Heritage Centre in St. George’s has a children’s learning area, allowing kids to experience history hands-on. Kids can also imagine long-gone life at sea by clambering aboard Deliverance, the replica 17th-century wooden vessel on the St. George’s waterfront. Check out the children’s sections of local bookstores; most stock numerous Bermuda books for kids, well-illustrated publications that teach about island wildlife, folklore, and traditions.
Bermuda makes it pretty easy to entertain children of most ages, because you usually don’t have to arrange anything more organized than a trip to the beach—so parents can actually have a vacation, too. Kids entertain themselves for hours playing at rock pools, body surfing, creating castles from the soft pink sand, spying on reef life with a mask and snorkel, or collecting mountains of ocean-washed glass or sand shells. Even infants are lulled by the sound of surf and the sea breeze. There’s even a yearly sand sculpture competition in late August, at which kids—and adults—can play seaside Michelangelos. Some of the best beaches for children are Jobson’s Cove, John Smith’s Bay, the “Baby Beach” at Horseshoe Bay, shady Clarence Cove in Admiralty House Park, and Southside’s Clearwater Beach and Turtle Beach (where there’s also a playground and restaurant). Make sure to bring hats, shades, and plenty of sunblock. Choosing a hotel or guesthouse on the beach, or at least within easy walking distance, is probably a wise choice when vacationing in Bermuda with young children.
Entertainment and Events
Certain times of the year are no-holds-barred magical for kids in Bermuda: Easter weekend kite-flying festivals, with their mandatory fish cake sandwiches; Cup Match camping and boat raft-ups; the sparkling Christmas Boat Parade around Hamilton Harbour—even island children accustomed to such annual rituals are enchanted by these spectacles. Kids can ride the toy-like train or dance to the rhythms of gombeys at summer’s stay-up-late Harbour Nights. If you’re staying at any of the major hotels, you’ll find that several, including Mandarin Oriental Elbow Beach Hotel and Fairmont Southampton Resort, have summer-long kids’ programs to keep little ones happy and busy while parents get some R&R.
Food and Shopping
Lots of local restaurants, including standouts La Trattoria in Hamilton, The Paraquet Restaurant in Paget, and the Frog & Onion Pub at Dockyard, are kid-friendly to the max, easily accommodating family groups, with baby chairs, kids’ menus, speedy service, and entertaining waitstaff to keep young diners amused.
There are some very kid-friendly island stores, including Treats of Bermuda, Daisy & Mac, The Annex, Pulp & Circumstance, and People’s Pharmacy in Hamilton; Robertson’s Drug Store in St. George’s; and Somerset Pharmacy in Sandys. Be warned, though: Imported toys, including favorites like Lego and Playmobil, retail at inflated prices due to Bermuda custom duties.
Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Bermuda.