It’s hard to imagine that the photos of Bermuda don’t even do it justice when you see the absolute perfect shades of blues and turquoises and the pristine beaches with a pink hue in person. The natural beauty is magnified by the colorful island culture and friendly people, making Bermuda an idyllic island. Just a quick two hours from NYC, I ventured to Bermuda this August with my best friend – read on for our recommendations for things to do in Bermuda!
Bermuda is the oldest and most populated British Overseas Territory located in the Caribbean with a population of approximately 67,000 people. The island sits on low-forming volcanoes, which explains the limestone formations seen on its beaches. The country is well-off with a high GDP per capita with insurance and tourism its largest economic sector and is an expensive place to visit due to import taxes. The capital city is Hamilton, and the entire island is broken into nine parishes (or villages). The small land size (20 miles by 2 miles) houses a diverse population adding to a unique cultural identity.
Renting a car is actually illegal for tourists in Bermuda and is even highly regulated for residents – only one per household. There is a robust bus and ferry system, but a fun way to get around is by scooter. I was initially terrified but eventually got the hang of riding the bike – and on the left side of the road nonetheless.
I recommend renting from Beta Bermuda in Southampton – ask for Carlos! – as they set us up well and made me feel at ease. After reading many reviews, we initially tried Elbow Beach Cycles and had a terrible experience. With such poor customer service, we canceled our reservation and made our way to Beta after a local’s recommendation.
Update: You know have the option of renting a two-seat electric vehicle called the Twizy for your stay! Through Current Vehicles, you can rent a Renault Twizy for approximately $100 / day if you are staying at one of their partner hotels. There are multiple “Oasis Checkpoints” and hotels that offer charging around the island but one charge will last you 55 miles – more than enough to get from end to end of the island. You must be 18 years of age, carry a valid driver’s license and possess liability insurance. On my next trip to Bermuda, this will definitely be the option I try and feel good about producing no emissions!
Royal Navy Dockyard
Located on the furthest west point of the island is the Royal Navy Dockyard. The British Royal Navy was stationed here as recently as 1957, and the old limestone buildings and fortresses have been kept up to serve as museums and tourist attractions. Featuring the National Museum of Bermuda (formerly known as the Maritime Museum), you will learn the history of the island. With many shops and restaurants, the Royal Navy Dockyard can feel a bit touristy, especially as this is where the large cruise ships will dock. We didn’t spend much time here because of that but locals informed us it was a great place to go out at night.
We stayed at an Airbnb located right on the recently renovated Port Royal Golf Course. We visited the clubhouse and the restaurant on-site and took in some breathtaking views. Golf is very popular on the island with six world-class courses. Next on my list is to visit Tucker’s Point!
South Shore Beaches
The best beaches are located on the southern shore of the island, as they are exposed to the ocean swell. Horseshoe Bay is the most popular with a bar/café at the entrance and umbrellas to rent on the beach. A bit quieter is Warwick Long Bay, which is also the pinkest beach on the island.
One of my regrets on this past trip was not taking advantage of the scuba diving while on the island. Bermuda is considered the shipwreck capital of the world with over 300 wrecks. The water is so clear that you often don’t need to reach deep depths, which is why we settled on snorkeling. We took the half-day sundeck sightseeing and snorkel experience with Fantasea. While it was nice to get out on a boat and head into the ocean with a fun local crew, Fantasea was a bit too touristy for my liking and seemed to cater to the cruise ship crowd.
St George’s is located on the north eastern tip of the island and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town was the first English settlement in 1612 and served as Bermuda’s first capital. We enjoyed walking through the historic town, visiting the center King’s Square and the oldest Anglican church, St Peter’s. We also visited popular Tobacco Bay Beach for a quick dip, a secluded sheltered beach that is very lively with parties and games from volleyball to pool. A little further past the beach is Fort St Catherine. We didn’t actually go inside to view the artifacts and exhibits but its positioning on the elevated rocks was stunning.
Hamilton is the capital of Bermuda and is home to government buildings and international offices. A vibrant and bustling city, we walked down Front Street, which is the main hub that runs alongside the water. We strolled in and out of local shops, picking up souvenirs and gifts along the way. There were numerous bars and restaurants abuzz, and we could have spent all day eating and drinking our way through the town.
The Big Chill
The music group The Big Chill plays Wednesday through Saturday nights at different locations on the island. A great way to listen to some live music while exploring some different venues.
Seemingly great activities that didn’t make the cut for our quick trip:
- West Whale Beach: We were not on the island during whale watching season (March and April), but this is the best spot for spotting humpback whales
- Crystal and Fantasy Caves: Two distinct wonders with underground pools and unique cave formations
- Gibbs Hill Lighthouse: The oldest cast iron structure in the world featuring 185 steps to the top with spectacular views of the island
Eats & Drinks
Famed chef Marcus Samuelsson opened Marcus’ more than two years ago inside the Hamilton Princess hotel. Featuring modern decorations and artwork, the restaurant carries signature chicken and waffles and fish chowder bites and is the perfect setting for a celebratory meal.
Located directly on the beach at Elbow Beach, Mickey’s Bistro takes island cuisine to the next level as you hear the surf and feel the breeze. Only open seasonally, the fresh catch and seafood specials were a great choice.
The Waterlot Inn at the Fairmont Southampton takes you back in time with servers dressed in traditional Bermuda outfits. A historic steakhouse, the restaurant is located right on the dock and the lounge outside is great for a pre or post dinner drink.
Also located at Elbow Beach, Café Lido is a newer restaurant featuring Mediterranean tapas that came recommended by locals.
A Rum Swizzle is one of the country’s national drinks, and the first version was supposedly pioneered at the Swizzle Inn. The location in Baileys Bay is the original with outdoor seating and a divey inside.
The Dog House is the newest bar all the locals were raving about in Hamilton with an extensive list of beers on tap.
We stayed at an Airbnb during our weekend trip, which proved to be a fantastic decision. We chose the Munro Beach Cottages on the Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton where we were treated to our own secluded home with a private beach. Unfortunately the listing seems to have been taken down, but there are many options available that are cheaper than the resorts. We were still able to experience the resorts where we ate the majority of our meals.
★★★★★: Rosewood Tucker’s Point
★★★★: Hamilton Princess, The Loren, Pompano Beach Club
★★★: Rosedon Hotel, Royal Palms Hotel
Have you ever been to Bermuda? What was your favorite part? Did I miss anything?
I’d love to hear from you!
xx Jet Set Steph