By Patricia Canole
Editor’s Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.
You realize the moment you arrive in Bermuda that this place is unique, an improbable Eden set in a dazzling blue, surprisingly temperate patch of the Atlantic just 90 minutes from New York City by air. Rich in beauty and British charmer offers travelers easy access, plus a unique blend of alluring landscapes (pink beaches and pastel cottages) and underwater thrills (the wreck diving is phenomenal). Read on and discover what this island has on tap.
A PASTEL PARADISE
Like a lovingly wrapped gift, Bermuda is awash in pale pink, mellow yellow, and dreamy turquoise. A pastel rainbow of tiny cottages with white-tiled roofs runs up, down, and around hillsides, which drop, sometimes dramatically, into the sparkling sea. Limestone walls, softened by drifts of vibrant bougainvillea and tufts of green moss, line narrow roads that curl around the rocky, crenulated coastline. And gaily hued flowers—lilies, hibiscus, oleander—are everywhere.
MADE FOR SECLUSION
Around every turn of this 21-mile, fishhook-shaped island, cliffs, and hills frame shots of the sea splashed by million-dollar yachts. Waves funnel into small coves guarded by rocky outcroppings, then wash onto coral tinged sand. Have your hotel pack a picnic lunch, then claim some quiet time on one of these secluded beaches. The locals will point the way. Horseshoe Bay is Bermuda’s most famous strand, but often you can barely tell pink sands from the sunburns! Opt for Long Bay beach instead.
All over Bermuda, you’ll find pathways leading through large circle-shaped portals made from coral and stone. These curious crescents harken back to ancient China but take on new meaning in these surroundings. According to legend, they are said to bestow happiness on those who pass through one. A local captain built the first moongate in 1860, based on one he had seen in a Chinese garden. The oldest example is the ivy-covered one in Hamilton’s Par-la-Ville Park, but the gate overlooking the beach at Tobacco Bay is by far the most picturesque.
THOSE FAMOUS SHORTS
The history of Bermuda shorts is steeped in the British military. Overcome by the Indian heat, British sailors stationed there snipped off the bottom of their uniform trousers. Being stiff-upper-lip sorts, they kept the woolen knee socks. The style later spread to the British garrison in Bermuda and, over the years, evolved into the pleated, tapered, pastel shorts we know today. Locals sport their Bermuda shorts year-round (rain, wind, or shine) and wouldn’t be caught dead in anything other than a traditional navy blazer.
INCREDIBLE UNDERGROUND SCENERY
Beneath Bermuda is a chain of 150 limestone caves discovered in 1907 by a group of kids looking for a lost cricket ball. Visitors can explore Crystal Caves on pontoons that float on a vast underground lake framed by thousands of stalactites and stalagmites. Nearby, Fantasy Cave can also be explored with a guide. Instead, those who would do it themselves can poke around the cave at Blue Hole Park or snorkel the half-submerged sea caves at Shark Hole.
There’s nothing quite like taking a break and enjoying a traditional English afternoon tea. If you’re feeling a wee bit British, head to The Crown & Anchor at The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. Enjoy homemade scones, Devonshire clotted cream, finger sandwiches, and pastries served on beautiful silver trays alongside steaming pots of tea inspired by British royalty. A Rose Congou—Princess Diana’s favorite—is layered with rose petals, while their Prince Harry and Meghan Royal Wedding Blend fuse teas from South Africa, Kenya, China, and France. Be sure to bring the kids—there’s a special children’s menu offering peanut butter, tuna salad, and cheese sandwiches.
FINDING NEMO: A NO-BRAINER
Bermuda is surrounded by the northernmost coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean and home to many marine species you find in Caribbean waters: turquoise parrotfish, butterflyfish, blue angels, and silver barracuda are just the beginning. Snorkeling is superb right off the beach at places like Long Bay and Church Cove. Many outfitters offer scuba diving excursions to vertical walls and dozens of shipwrecks in the surrounding Bermudan waters.
A HISTORY LESSON
A trip to Bermuda, is not complete without a visit to the Royal Naval Dockyard, which has become Bermuda’s leading tourist attraction—a sort of theme park (without the roller coaster) that includes museums, pubs, sports, and shops. Housed inside the massive British fort, the Bermuda Maritime Museum is much more than old ships and sailors. You can rent snorkels and sea kayaks at the snorkel park to explore the nearby reef. There is also a glassworks and ceramics factory and an indoor craft market where you can buy island keepsakes such as cedarwood jewelry boxes, black rum cakes, and many other hand-crafted objects.
For more information on Bermuda, visit gotobermuda.com