Expert guide to Bermuda
When an English sailing vessel called the Sea Venture first crashed upon Bermuda’s shores in 1609, its crew members found a deserted archipelago rich in natural beauty. They eventually forged an island nation—what is today Britain’s oldest colony, and one that is easily explored on two-wheeled scooters or behind the wheel of an electric car. In fact, there’s so much to see you might not fit it all in, but whether you’ve come to unwind on a pink sand beach, shop in a pastel-fronted boutique or discover 400 years of history, you’ll uncover a mix of formal British culture dressed in a pair of Bermuda shorts.
Explore the history of the capital
Founded as Bermuda’s capital in 1612, the Town of St. George’s is a Unesco World Heritage Site, featuring some of the island’s most well-preserved examples of colonial architecture. Wander its labyrinth cobblestone alleyways to uncover St. Peter’s Church, what is the oldest Anglican place of worship in the Western Hemisphere; King’s Square, where criminals were once publicly punished in the pillory and stocks; and the Unfinished Church, a dreamy roofless cathedral that was begun in 1874, but never completed.
Insider’s tip: When you’re done exploring town, head to nearby Fort St. Catherine, a mighty stone fortress on Bermuda’s far east end that’s open for self-guided tours daily.
Cruise on the water
Bermuda is not one island, but an archipelago of more than 180 islets and cays. Explore them for yourself by renting a self-drive motorboat for the ultimate do-it-yourself adventure (K.S. Watersports), or by chartering a catamaran to let a captain and crew do all the work (Sail Bermuda). Either way, you’ll be able to explore secluded bays and hidden beaches accessible only by boat—places like King’s Island in Mangrove Bay, where locals are known to raft up in large flotillas while anchoring off a pristine pink sand beach.
Hit the Links
With more golf courses per square mile than anywhere else in the world, Bermuda is a golfer’s paradise. For one of the island’s most unique outings, reserve a tee time at Port Royal Golf Course, a Robert Trent Jones-designed course in Southampton, which was once the home of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf and now hosts the annual Bermuda Championship. Featuring 18 oceanfront holes, all with undulating fairways and Tiff-Eagle greens, it’s one of Bermuda’s finest public courses.
Insider’s Tip: Take an extra ball on the 16th. The 235-yard, crescent-shaped par three hugs the coast, with nothing but the turquoise ocean between the tee and the pin.
Contact: 00 1 441 234 0974; portroyalgolfcourse.com
There’s no better way to remember your trip to Bermuda than by bringing home an island-inspired gift. At TABS, buy a pair of authentic Bermuda shorts colour-blocked to match island flora and fauna. Alexandra Mosher Studio Jewellery sells sterling silver necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets made with tiny grains of pink sand. At the Island Shop browse ceramics and linens with hand-painted designs of iconic island scenes. And at Lili Bermuda, take home men’s and women’s fragrances made with island aromatics.
Insider tip: Don’t leave the airport Duty Free Shop without buying a bottle of Pink House Gin, a rose-coloured spirit infused with local botanicals including hibiscus, mint and blood orange.
Dive the deep
With more than 400 wrecks in its waters, Bermuda is considered the Shipwreck Capital of the Atlantic. This includes French frigates, American freighters and Italian cargo steamers, all of which were grounded by a thriving barrier reef that encircles the archipelago. Wreck sites vary widely—some are in a mere six metres of water, while others are as deep as 25—but all of them are teaming with underwater life including soft corals and tropical fish.
Insider tip: Have the pros at Blue Water Divers take you to the wreck of the Mary Celestia, a 69-metre paddlewheel steamer that was once an American Civil War blockade runner.
Contact: 00 1 441 234 1034; divebermuda.com
Tour the trail
Once home to a working railway that ran across Bermuda from 1931 to 1948, the Railway Trail is now an 18-mile scenic pedestrian and bicycle path that spans the entire island. Split into nine individual sections, each one is different, but all offer a unique glimpse into Bermuda’s natural environment. For a particularly picturesque route, try the stretch in Hamilton Parish on the east end, where you’ll cross a 740-foot-long overwater footbridge.
Insider’s tip: Rent an electric bicycle from Pedego Electric Bikes, so you can explore the trail without even having to pedal.
Contact: 00 1 441 533 8687; pedegoelectricbikes.com
Originally discovered in 1907 by a pair of Bermudian boys trying to retrieve a lost ball, the Crystal & Fantasy Caves are a network of subterranean lakes and caverns featuring centuries old stalagmites and stalactites. Explore them both during a guided tour, which takes you deep into the caves and across a floating pontoon bridge that spans a 55-foot-deep gin-clear lake.
Insider’s Tip: When you’re done touring the caves, follow the wooded footpath to Bailey’s Bay Ice Cream Parlour for a cone of locally made ice cream (try the Dark n’ Stormy made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum and spicy ginger beer).
Contact: 00 1 441 293 0640; caves.bm
Enjoy island-inspired artwork
Housed in a purpose-built structure inside the Bermuda Botanical Gardens—itself a sprawling 36-acre public park with lush, tropical foliage—the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art features the island’s largest collection of island-inspired artwork. Here you’ll find paintings from 19th-century masters such as Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keefe plus revolving exhibitions from local artists. It’s also where you’ll find a large steel sculpture called Double Fantasy—a tribute to John Lennon since the Beatle wrote several songs in Bermuda after being inspired by his walks through the Botanical Gardens in June 1980.
Insider’s Tip: Don’t pass up a long stroll through the park with its seven-ft-tall Tudor-style maze garden or the fragrant garden for the blind with aromatic plants of all kinds.
Contact: 00 1 441 236 2950; bermudamasterworks.org
Zip to the zoo
A sprawling complex in Hamilton parish featuring three museums in one, The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo is where you can easily spend a half day learning about the island’s animals, fish and natural history. In the aquarium don’t miss the North Rock Exhibit, a 140,000-gallon tank that mimics a living coral reef with pelagic fish species of all kinds. At the zoo, tour its open-air exhibits featuring critters from Bermuda and other oceanic islands around the globe (think lemurs from Madagascar or wallabies from Australia).
Insider’s Tip: When hunger calls head to the Village Pantry, which is a short walk from the zoo. If you’ve got kids in tow, they’ll love the do-it-yourself pizzas.
Contact: 00 1 441 293 2727; bamz.org
Dig into history
Of all Bermuda’s historic forts none is as impressive as the one that houses The National Museum of Bermuda, the island’s cultural crown jewel with exhibits of maritime and military history inside a 19th-century stone fortress. Perched on Bermuda’s far west end within the walls of the Royal Naval Dockyard, the museum is as massive as the fort itself. Start your self-guided tour at the Commissioner’s House, a cast iron building dating back to 1834 with 19th- and 20th century maritime paintings, exhibits exploring the slave trade and the Hall of History, a 1,000-square-foot mural depicting 500 years of Bermuda history.
Insider’s tip: For a memorable meal nearby, walk across the street to the Frog & Onion, a traditional English pub housed in an old stone cooperage where barrels were once forged for the Royal Navy.
Contact: 00 1 441 234 1418; nmb.bm