The Best of Bermuda
Sure, you can laze on a beach for weeks on end, and shop ’til you drop—or ’til you run out of money. But with its short distances and efficient public transport, Bermuda can reveal so much more of itself to energetic travelers during a typical 10-day stay. Look below the surface of this reef-fringed paradox and you’ll discover a melting pot of culture, history, and outdoor adventure encompassing all nine parishes. Split your stay between a couple of hotels or guesthouses to experience the island’s very different areas.
Arrive at L. F. Wade International Airport and grab a cab to your hotel. Shake off your mainland cobwebs with an afternoon at Elbow Beach, strolling the soft sand and testing the turquoise waters. Dress up and choose a waterfront terrace, such as Café Lido on Paget’s South Shore, or Beau Rivage on the harborside, for an alfresco dinner.
Head into Hamilton for breakfast with Bermudians of all backgrounds at The Spot Restaurant. Try traditional codfish and potatoes, if it’s on the menu. Spend the morning exploring Front, Reid, and Church Streets’ boutiques, art galleries, and churches such as Holy Trinity Cathedral, whose landmark tower overlooks the city.
The tiny Lemon Tree Café on the edge of Par-la-Ville Park and the hip café–bar Ten at 10 Dundonald Street are perfect lunch spots. In the afternoon, rent a scooter or hop on a bus and cruise the North Shore and Harrington Sound to visit the underground caves at Spittal Pond Nature Reserve. Watch the sun go down from Shelly Bay.
Okay, you can cool out on the beach today. Go to Horseshoe Bay for bodysurfing, sandcastles, and snorkeling. Follow the trail east through protected dune-cradled park to sample Chaplin Bay, Jobson’s Cove, and Long Bay. In the late afternoon, escape the sun and indulge in a spa treatment at one of the many resorts (book your treatment days in advance if possible).
Take the ferry from Hamilton across the Great Sound to the Royal Naval Dockyard, scooter optional. Connect to the past through the stories of military, slaves, immigrants, and war veterans at Bermuda Maritime Museum. Watch a cedar craftsman at the Arts Centre. Stop in at Somerset Village for lunch, then rent a kayak or take a snorkeling or paragliding tour of the West End.
Take the ferry along the North Shore to St. George’s. Explore the steeped history and twisting alleys of the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit area forts (also UNESCO gems), including Gates Fort, the Martello Tower at Ferry Reach, and Fort St. Catherine, with its commanding views of the bay where the first settlers landed. Mingle with fishermen at St. David’s and sample the fresh lobster, tuna, and dark ’n’ stormies at neighborhood eateries.
Walk in John Lennon’s footsteps at the Bermuda Botanical Gardens in Paget, where Double Fantasy was born, and pay a visit to the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. Nearby, journey to the virtual ocean floor at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute at the foot of Hamilton Harbour. Head into North Hamilton, the city’s “Uptown” district, for a Caribbean-style lunch at one of the many cafés, such as Jamaican Grill or Fish Hut. Walk the pretty French Quarter-style streets, and climb up to Fort Hamilton for moat gardens and panoramic views. Return to North Hamilton for a rousing evening of local jazz at Hubie’s Bar.
Get a nature fix with a hike along the old Railway Trail from Paget or Warwick for as long a distance as you’d like. The outing will give you an “inside” look at Bermuda via backyards, farmers’ fields, golf courses, and thick woodlands populated with island birds, lizards, and wild fruits like loquats and cherries. Tribe roads lead off the trail back to main roads and bus stops at regular intervals. The beach is never too far away; cool off with a leisurely afternoon swim. If you reach Southampton, climb Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, have a laid-back lunch, then squeeze in an hour or two at a spa to unwind.
Take a bus or scooter to the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo and spend a few hours soaking in the wildlife. Have lunch in historic Flatts Village, then take your time exploring North Shore communities such as Devonshire Dock and Spanish Point. Fit in a swim at one of the deep, sheltered coves along the way, such as Robinson’s Bay or Clarence Cove.
Take leave of land and immerse yourself in Bermuda’s azure surroundings. Numerous scuba and snorkeling outfitters can arrange half-day or full-day expeditions, from Hamilton, Somerset, the South Shore, or the East End. Water sports like kayaking, kitesurfing, and sailing are the best way to enjoy Bermuda’s warmer months. Sunfish and Hobiecat sailboats, as well as motorboats and Jet Skis, can be rented at many outlets.
Grab an early-morning beach run along the South Shore and cool off with a dip in the balmy water before your flight out.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition