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  • beach-rocks-Bermuda - Bermuda features a wealth of spectacular, uncrowded beaches.
  • yellow-crown-heron-Bermuda - Yellow-crowned night heron in Bermuda.
  • house-tuckers-town-Bermuda - Golden Eye House in Tucker's Town, Bermuda.
  • jobson-cove-Bermuda - A stretch of Jobson's Cove in Bermuda.
  • kite-surfer-Bermuda - A kite surfer navigates through some gnarly waves along the coast of Bermuda.
  • West-Whale-Bay-Bermuda - West Whale Bay in Bermuda features a secluded beach.
  • Elbow-Beach-Bermuda - Turquoise waters lap at the pink-hued sands of Elbow Beach, Bermuda.
  • buildings-front-Hamilton-Bermuda - Historic Front Street in Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda.
  • Nonsuch-Island-Bermuda - Nonsuch Island, part of the Castle Harbour Islands Nature Reserve, in northeastern Bermuda. It's the most important site in Bermuda for the conservation of rare and threatened species and habitats.
  • paget-Parish-Bermuda - Sunset in Chelston, Paget Parish, Bermuda, with a little HDR thrown in.
  • cavellob-Bermuda - Bermuda had no indigenous residents when a British ship, the Sea Venture, wrecked on treacherous reefs in 1609, forcing its Virginia-bound passengers and crew to eke out an existence.
  • mid-ocean-golf-Bermuda - The Mid Ocean Club offers a fabulous golf experience on Bermuda.
  • swim-Jobsons-Cove-Bermuda - Take an ocean swim in Jobson's Cove, Bermuda.
  • Jobsons-Cove-Bermuda - Jobson's Cove, Bermuda, is a great area to explore.
  • beach-Bermuda - Warwick Long Bay beach in Bermuda. Bermuda's beaches are some of the finest in the world.
  • orange-ibis-Bermuda - Two orange-colored ibis at Elbow Beach, Bermuda.
  • Royal-Naval-Dockyard-Bermuda-aerial - An aerial view of the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda, which served as the principal base of the British Royal Navy in the Western Atlantic between American independence and the Cold War.
  • beach-couple-Bermuda - Stroll along some of the beautiful beaches of Bermuda. Bermuda sits far north of the Caribbean Sea off the coast of North Carolina, but the archipelago of 120 islands and islets has a Caribbean soul.
  • St-Georges-Harbor-Bermuda - Picturesque St. George's Harbor in Bermuda.
  • parasailing-Bermuda - Parasailing is a popular activity for travelers to Bermuda.
  • waterski-Bermuda - Try your hand at waterskiing during your vacation in Bermuda.
  • Trunk-Island-Bermuda - Trunk Island, Bermuda, named for its resemblance to an elephant trunk.
  • Crystal-Caves-Bermuda - A capture of fascinating Crystal Caves, Bermuda.
  • white-tailed-tropicbirds-Bermuda - Race ya! White-tailed tropicbirds, known locally as Bermuda longtails.
  • Regent-Seven-Seas-Navigator-Bermuda - Take a world-class cruise to always-inviting Bermuda aboard Seven Seas Navigator.
  • golf-Port-Royal-Bermuda - Port Royal Golf Course in Southhampton, Bermuda.
  • beach-Hinson-Hall-Bermuda - The beach at Hinson Hall in Bermuda.
  • tropicbird-Bermuda - A white-tailed tropicbird in Bermuda.
  • gombey-dancers-Hamilton-Bermuda - Gombey dancers in Par-la-Ville Park, Hamilton, Bermuda.
  • fish-Bermuda - A school of tropical fish in Bermuda. Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities during a cruise shore excursion.
  • fish-chowder-Bermuda - Lunchtime with a bowl of Bermuda fish chowder in Somerset, Bermuda.
  • golf-Tucker-Point-Bermuda - Driving the ball on Tucker's Point Golf Course, Bermuda.
  • hill-Warwick-Bermuda - Hillside view in Warwick, Bermuda.
  • lamp-Naval-Dockyard-Bermuda - An old lamp in the Naval Dockyard, Bermuda.
  • Bermuda-land-crab - The Bermuda Land Crab, also known as the Blackback Land Crab and Red Land Crab.
  • Hamilton-Harbor-Bermuda - An aerial view of popular Hamilton Harbor in Bermuda. Several cruise lines make stops here.
  • phone-booths-Bermuda - Some traditions and quaint throwbacks endure: British phone booths in Bermuda.
  • Horseshoe-Bay-Bermuda-pink-sand - The pink sands of Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda. View from the southwest end of the bay looking northeast.
  • St-Peters-Church-Bermuda - St. Peter's Church in St. George's, Bermuda.
  • town-crier-Bermuda - The town crier makes a proclamation in St. George's, Bermuda.
  • shop-hamilton-Bermuda - Enjoy an afternoon shopping on the main drag of Front Street in Hamilton, Bermuda.
  • Bermuda-Rock-Arch - Sail the Caribbean on Norwegian Cruise Lines and explore the arches, caves and other natural rock formations on Bermuda's beaches.
  • couple-turtle-bay-Bermuda - A couple at Turtle Bay, Bermuda.
  • spa-arch-Bermuda - Couples spa treatments are available at many Bermuda resorts.
  • anole-Bermuda - A Jamaican Anole, a variety of lizard, at Hinson Hall, Smith's, Bermuda.
  • businessmen-wearing-Bermuda-shorts - Businessmen in Hamilton, Bermuda, wearing — yes — Bermuda shorts. You'll spot the colorful, comfy shorts all around the island.
  • Jobsons-Cove-Bermuda-run - Jobson's Cove, Bermuda.
  • Fairmont-Hamilton-Princess-Hotel-Bermuda - The Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel overlooks picturesque Hamilton Harbor in Pembroke Parish, Bermuda.
  • Peel-Rock-Bermuda - An aerial view of Peel Rock Cove, a great getaway in Warwick Camp, Bermuda.
  • longtails-Bermuda - Bermuda longtails glide over the sea.
  • Norwegian-Cruise-Line-beach-run - Play on Bermuda's beautiful beaches when you cruise the Caribbean on a  Norwegian Cruise Line ship.
  • boat-tour-Bermuda - Spend a Bermuda afternoon relaxing on a local boat tour.
  • flamingos-Bermuda - Pink flamingos at Elbow Beach in Bermuda (with apologies to John Waters).
  • Naval-Dockyard-Bermuda - The historic Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda.
  • heron-Warwick-Bermuda - A heron takes a dip in the pool at Surf Side, Warwick, Bermuda.
  • south-shore-Bermuda - A scene from the south shore of Bermuda.
  • Hamilton-Harbor-Bermuda - An aerial view of popular Hamilton Harbor in Bermuda. Several cruise lines make stops here.
  • Fairmont-Hamilton-Princess-Hotel-Bermuda - The Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel overlooks picturesque Hamilton Harbor in Pembroke Parish, Bermuda.
  • buildings-front-Hamilton-Bermuda - Historic Front Street in Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda.
  • businessmen-wearing-Bermuda-shorts - Businessmen in Hamilton, Bermuda, wearing — yes — Bermuda shorts. You'll spot the colorful, comfy shorts all around the island.
  • gombey-dancers-Hamilton-Bermuda - Gombey dancers in Par-la-Ville Park, Hamilton, Bermuda.
  • shop-hamilton-Bermuda - Enjoy an afternoon shopping on the main drag of Front Street in Hamilton, Bermuda.
  • St-Georges-Harbor-Bermuda - Picturesque St. George's Harbor in Bermuda.
  • town-crier-Bermuda - The town crier makes a proclamation in St. George's, Bermuda.
  • St-Peters-Church-Bermuda - St. Peter's Church in St. George's, Bermuda.

Bermuda travel guide: What to do & see

our guide

The vibe

This 22-square-mile, hook-shaped archipelago is often assumed to be in the Caribbean but in fact sits squarely in the mid-Atlantic, 650 miles east of North Carolina. Bermudians voted in 1995 to remain a British Overseas Territory, and their penchant for tidiness makes a lasting impression. This is a place where people not only mind their manners, they keep their shirttails tucked in, their shoes polished, their flowers fertilized and their lawns perfectly trimmed. Think Victoria, British Columbia, in a pastel palette.

The two main municipalities in Bermuda are Hamilton and St. George's. Hamilton, Bermuda's capital, overlooks Hamilton Harbour and is located on the Main Island. Historic St. George's, rife with colonial architecture, is on St. George's Island, just to the northeast of Main Island. King's Wharf and Heritage Wharf, where most large cruise ships dock, is at the West End of Bermuda on Ireland Island, in the historic Royal Navy Dockyard.

Most cruise ships visit Bermuda from spring to fall. In winter the island sees few cruise ships calling, when the temperatures dip to still-pleasant mid- to upper 60s° F.

Cruise ships that call on Bermuda

Top reasons to go

  • Swim, snorkel, dive, repeat. The waters of Bermuda are warm and clear and with 64 miles of coastline on the islands, you will find a favorite beach.
  • A visually captivating island with a whole lot of outdoor options
  • Fascinating history tied to Britain and colonial America
  • Upscale atmosphere, engaging culture and easy to navigate
  • St. George is the oldest, continually inhabited British settlement in the New World. It boasts small winding streets and typical British Colonial architecture with fountains, gardens and squares, cobbled streets and plazas.

Things to do & see in Bermuda

Sightseeing

Historic Front Street in Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda.
Bermuda Tourism BoardHistoric Front Street in Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda.

Don’t miss Hamilton, the lively, pastel-hued, Victorian-era capital. The main drag is Front Street, offering ocean views, upscale shopping and lively nightlife. Prices in shops are high, but then again, Bermuda has no sales tax.

St. George’s, founded in 1612, is an impossibly picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site characterized by charming architecture, narrow streets and beautiful landscaping. Numerous museums and other attractions are located within its bright, Easter egg-colored buildings. Don’t miss touring a replica of Deliverance, the ship that transported survivors of the 1609 wreck of the Sea Venture — a tale that inspired Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” — to their final destination in Jamestown Colony, Virginia.

King’s Wharf, Heritage Wharf and Royal Naval Dockyards. Most cruise ships (and all mega-liners) dock at one of the two big wharfs within the dockyards. Visitors debark to find themselves immersed in a historic district that also serves as a transportation and orientation hub. Take time to explore the enlightening National Museum of Bermuda, housed in a six-acre fortress. Several good beaches, including Snorkel Park, Danlel’s Head, Somerset Long Bay, Mangrove Bay and Black Bay, are nearby.

Boating & water sports

  • Sailing or boating excursions will introduce you to offshore islands and superb swimming and snorkeling spots, but they also serve as the local equivalent of a Hollywood homes tour, allowing you to ogle mansions of the rich and famous sticking out like pastel thumbs from green hillsides.
  • Water sports of every sort are available, from snorkeling and scuba diving to kayaking, windsurfing, standup paddle-boarding, boating, sailing, jet-skiing and fishing. Scuba Diving magazine named Bermuda as the top wreck dive location in the region. 

Best beaches in Bermuda

Bermuda’s turquoise waters and gorgeous beaches, pink-sand and otherwise, are a main attraction. Among the most visited (and photographed) are Tobacco Bay, Elbow Beach and Horseshoe Bay.

The pink sands of Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda.
derlandsknecht / Creative Commons BY-SAThe pink sands of Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda. 

DIY exploring

  • Rent a bike or scooter and explore the islands, which are connected by bridges and causeways, from one end of the archipelago to the other. Or, ride or hike the 18-mile Bermuda Railway Trail, which follows the route of a defunct railroad. Hikers will also want to trek the 185 steps up to the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, one of the oldest cast-iron lighthouses in the world, offering sweeping views of the Atlantic.
  • Golf is big here, but you’ll need to make arrangements in advance. If you don’t know someone who can provide entrée, it’s best to make arrangements through your cruise line.
  • Birdwatching, especially during the fall migration, is said to be highly rewarding. A bit of trivia: Bermudians’ insider term for tourists is “longtails,” after the long-tailed tropic birds that arrive on the island every April and leave again in fall.
  • Whale watching season takes place in winter to early spring, with March and April as the peak viewing months. 

Bermuda Craft Market

Hand-painted giftware at the Bermuda Craft Market.
Courtesy of Bermuda Craft MarketHand-painted giftware at the Bermuda Craft Market.

The Bermuda Craft Market (4 Freeport Road, Royal Navy Dockyard, Sandys) has the largest locally made selection of artisan crafts and products under one roof. Items are handmade with natural materials from Bermuda such as cedar, ceramics, glass, wool, wire and banana leaves. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or one-of-a-kind collectable. The handmade artisan items for sale include candles, decorative paintings, jewelry, gems, sculptures and dolls.

Swizzle Inn

The Swizzle Inn (3 Blue Hole Hill in the north) is Bermuda’s oldest and most famous pub and restaurant. Established in 1932, it gets its name from Bermuda’s national drink, which is made up on a potent concoction of rum and fruit juices. Though it has expanded its patios over time, the pub area goes unchanged with its graffiti and business card covered walls and rustic furniture.

Spelunking

Bermuda has one of the most extensive limestone cavern systems in the world, and recreational spelunking has become increasingly popular. Several caverns have been developed as “show caves,” the most visited of which is Crystal Caverns.

Family-friendly options

Besides beaches and museums(the National Museum of Bermuda is a good choice), Bermuda has a topnotch aquarium, a Dolphin Quest attraction and playgrounds where your kids can interact with the locals.

YOLO (You only live once!)

Gather up your family members and newfound cruise-ship buddies and charter a yacht for a day (or even half-day) to visit serene spots where you can swim, snorkel and feed your soul to your heart’s content.

An aerial view of Peel Rock Cove, a great getaway in Warwick Camp, Bermuda.
Bermuda Department of Tourism An aerial view of Peel Rock Cove, a great getaway in Warwick Camp, Bermuda.

Don’t miss

  • Be sure to sample a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, the national drink made with a two-to-one mixture of carbonated ginger beer and Gosling’s Black Seal Rum.
  • Harbour Nights in Hamilton. On Wednesday nights in summer, Front Street is closed to traffic and taken over by a street festival featuring live music, vendors, artists and only-in-Bermuda Gombey dancers.

Best bets for dining

  • If money is no object and you don’t mind a jacket-and-tie dress code, enjoy graceful and elegant dining at venues such as the restaurant at Fourways Inn in St. George’s; Tom Moore’s Tavern at Walsingham Bay; or Ascot’s in Hamilton.
  • Like to eat where the locals do? Take a taxi to Black Horse Tavern on rural St. David’s Island, where conch stew is a specialty. Polaris at the Carriage House, next to the harbor in St. George’s, is another good bet for fish chowder and other local cuisine. Coconuts restaurant at the Reefs Resort & Club is one of a few in Bermuda that is directly on the beach. Torch lighting adds a romantic touch at night.
  • On a budget? Nothing in Bermuda is cheap by American standards, but there are ways to spend less rather than more. Look for food trucks, vans or carts serving the local work force (DeGraff’s Lunch Wagon, operating out of a white truck parked behind City Hall in Hamilton; and Jor-Jays, operating along Front Street, are popular choices). Or, tuck into casual places such as the Lobster Pot or Hog Penny in Hamilton, the Frog & Onion at the Royal Naval Dockyard or any of many ethnic restaurants (primarily Indian and Chinese) found throughout the islands.
Port Royal Golf Course in Southhampton, Bermuda.
Bermuda Tourism BoardPort Royal Golf Course in Southhampton, Bermuda.

Best time to go

Bermuda’s climate is semi-tropical and can be chilly in winter.

High season for cruise ships is June-August, although the tourist season in general runs from April to mid-November.

Low season: December to March.

Hurricane season: There’s no rainy season — but there is a hurricane season, with the occasional big blow occurring between June and November. In October 2014, for example, Hurricane Gonzalo hit the island, and while there were downed trees and power lines along with other damage, it was by no means catastrophic. As Premier Michael Dunkley put it, "We came out of this storm much better than we expected." 

Inside tip

Don’t strut off the ship dressed for the beach—or for mowing the lawn. Bermuda is a conservative and dressy place, and locals appreciate it when tourists respect their conventions. Most Bermudian women wouldn’t be caught dead wearing shorts away from home or the beach. Un-tucked shirttails are regarded as signs of sloth, and dress codes are in place at country clubs and most high-end restaurants.

Fun facts

  • Bermuda is named after the first European to discover the islands, Spanish sea captain Juan de Bermúdez, in 1503.
  • Bermuda has more golf courses per square mile than any other place in the world.
  • When the Sea Venture sank off Bermuda in 1609, among the stranded passengers was John Rolfe, who would worm his way into American history by marrying Pocahantas
  • Visitors to Bermuda inevitably are taken aback at their first sight of businessmen wearing knee socks and shorts — often in bright colors — with suit jackets, ties and spit-shined loafers. But no, it’s not a nation of Boy Scouts. The story goes that Bermuda shorts were inspired by British colonial soldiers in India who cut off the bottoms of their trousers to make them more comfortable. Naval officers in Bermuda soon adopted them, and by the 1950s they’d become everyday attire for men (women wear them, too, tailored to knee-length). Shop for the real deal at the English Sports Shop in Hamilton.
  • Bermuda has no lakes, rivers or other permanent sources of fresh water, and the only source of fresh water in Bermuda is rainfall. So, by law, every rooftop in Bermuda is made of slate and cement and painted white to protect against gale-force winds, reflect the sun and funnel rainwater.
  • Bermuda sits in a warm-water eddy of the Gulf Stream known as the Sargasso Sea, and its coral reefs, a major attraction, are the northernmost in the world. They’re also among the world’s most treacherous, and are literally littered with shipwrecks (Bermuda Triangle, anyone?). The most famous crackup was the 1609 wreck of the Sea Venture, one in a caravan of nine ships bearing colonists from England to Jamestown Colony in Virginia. Among the stranded passengers was John Rolfe, who later married the Indian maiden Pocahantas. The castaways spent a year building two new ships, Patience and Deliverance, to complete their journey to America.
Businessmen in Hamilton, Bermuda, wearing — yes — Bermuda shorts.
Bermuda Tourism BoardBusinessmen in Hamilton, Bermuda, wearing — yes — Bermuda shorts.

When you arrive

Docking information

Bermuda is an unusual cruise destination in that most ships stay three to five nights and don’t call anywhere else en route to and from their home ports in New York, Boston or Baltimore. Repositioning cruises are the exception, stopping for just a day or two. A very few itineraries feature Bermuda as a wing stop on Caribbean itineraries.

  • King’s Wharf and the new Heritage Wharf are where the megaships dock. Passengers debark directly into the bustling Royal Navy Dockyards, a 25-acre complex harboring many attractions.
  • St. George’s, Bermuda’s oldest settlement, handles a few small to medium-size cruise vessels. Ships anchor at Penno’s Wharf, just a few minutes’ walk from the center of town.
  • Hamilton is the island’s shopping and sightseeing capital, as well as its political center. As in St. George’s, only small to medium-size ships can be accommodated. Passengers walk off their ships directly into the middle of the action on Front Street.

Getting around

Bermuda restricts the number of vehicles allowed on the island, and rental cars are not permitted. Taxis, ferries and buses are plentiful and efficient, and bicycles and mopeds are available for rent.

Need to know

Two orange-colored ibis at Elbow Beach, Bermuda.
Wendy Piersall / Creative Commons BYTwo orange-colored ibis at Elbow Beach, Bermuda.

Documents needed: U.S. citizens need a passport.

Language: English, with an accent carrying traces of Britain, the West Indies and the American South.

Currency: The Bermudian dollar, pegged on par with the American dollar.

Safety: Bermuda is a safe, upscale destination where laws are strictly enforced. Cruise passengers have been arrested and fined for bringing even small amounts of pot with them, so don't do it. As in all foreign places, be aware of your surroundings and take precautions when using ATMs and leaving bars, especially late at night.

ShoreFox contributed to this guide.

Your take

How about you? Have you been to Bermuda, or planning to go? I'd love to hear about your experience.  

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Janet Fullwood
Janet Fullwood is an editor, writer and photographer-at-large specializing in travel and hospitality topics.

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Overheard

“You go to heaven if you want — I'd rather stay here in Bermuda.” So gushed Mark Twain in the 19th century, and Bermuda’s promise of sun and sea still lures vacationers to its shores.

Lonely Planet

“Residents cherish local traditions in the first and oldest offshore British colony — from pink houses to yacht clubs to Bermuda shorts — while enjoying the present with epicurean cuisine, chic shops, and picture-postcard weather.”

National Geographic Traveler

“Bermuda has more golf courses than any other country, pink sand beaches, and is like stepping back into England in the Fifties.”

London Telegraph

“Join the nature guides of new ecotourism company Hidden Gems of Bermuda to explore secret caves and snorkel coral reefs. Back in Hamilton, browse the smart selection of frilled silk tunics and Helen Ficalora jewelry at Atelerie.”

Travel + Leisure magazine

“Few places in the world boast the charm of Bermuda's curvaceous, colorful shoreline.”

Fodor’s Travel

Need motivation to exercise? Plan a trip to Bermuda during the island's annual Marathon Weekend. More than 850 runners from  around the world speed past the island's best vistas on courses that range from easy to hard-core. Serious racers attempt the Bermuda Triangle Challenge: three races (a one-miler, a 10K, and a marathon) over three days.

Afar magazine

“Pink sand and clear blue water with surrounding limestone rocks makes Horseshoe Bay one of Bermuda's most famous beaches and a must-see on every visitor's list. If you're a snorkeler, you'll love exploring the large reefs that team with a variety of colorful fish and interesting underwater sea life. ...Horseshoe Bay Beach is about a 30-minute ride from the port, and is known as the most-photographed beach in Bermuda.”

Porthole magazine

 

 

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