Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit the island of Bermuda. Often referred to as “The Jewel of the Atlantic,” Bermuda may be much closer than you think. because it can be reached in about two hours from most airports on the East Coast. Many people mistakenly think that Bermuda is part of the Caribbean, but in fact it is only 650 miles from the coast of North Carolina! Because there are so many amazing things about this island, it is the perfect destination for everyone. The island’s small size allows you to see the sights and then have plenty of time for relaxation. The weather here couldn’t be more perfect. Summer temperatures range from 75-85 degrees and in the winter, temperatures average 70 degrees. Because the island never really sees extreme hot or cold, a visit here will be pleasant at any time; however, the high season is considered April-September.
Bermuda has only three main areas- the largest being Hamilton, the capital. The island’s international airport is located here and the flights are plentiful. This city is the hub and business center of the island, but it also has many historical buildings and churches. This is an easy town to explore by foot or bicycle. Make sure you see the pastel buildings on Front Street and the “bird cage” on Queen Street where the constables direct traffic wearing their Bermuda shorts. In fact, it is very common to see residents and businessmen wearing the famous shorts of Bermuda.
The original capital, St. George, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. This small, quaint town is where Bermuda began. Most historians believe that was sometime near 1609 when an English ship, taking supplies to the colony of Jamestown, wrecked on the reefs near the east end of this town. The passengers survived and remained, making them Bermuda’s first settlers. St. George was the capital of Bermuda for more than 200 years, but today it attracts visitors from all over the world who want to see the picturesque pastel cottages, quaint lanes and alleyways, and its wealth of architecture. If you want a true feel for the culture of Bermuda, this is the place to visit. During the summer months, actors roam the streets dressed in colonial period costumes.
If you arrive in Bermuda by cruise ship, you are likely to port at the Royal Naval Dockyard. The dockyard is the oldest British Naval facility outside of the United Kingdom. When you visit today, history is all around you. You will see old stone buildings, wharves, and fortifications and you will truly feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The Clock Tower Mall is a “must see.” This 19th century building houses Bermudian boutiques and souvenirs. There is also a Bermuda Rum Cake Factory and Glass Blowing Shop. Shopping here is not inexpensive, but it is duty free.
Perhaps you know that Bermuda is famous for its pink sand beaches and turquoise water. The size of the island allows you to see water from almost anywhere you go. It is also home to many championship golf courses. One very unique sight is the 500,000 year old Crystal Caves. You can tour these limestone caves and see amazing stalactites and stalagmites. These caves were documented as far back as 1623 by Captain John Smith. Other places of interest are the Bermuda Aquarium and the National History Museum and Zoo. The 140,000 gallon tank in this facility gives you a view of the island’s coral reefs and the marine life that can be found here. Divers and snorkelers come to the island to explore coral reefs and the dozens of historic shipwrecks.
Personally, my favorite part of Bermuda is the famous Horseshoe Bay Beach. This is the island’s most popular pink sand beach and does tend to attract large crowds. However, the beach is large and you can always find space away from the crowds. You will have everything you need at this beach to enjoy a fun filled day. There is a snack bar, changing room with showers, clean restrooms, and beach chair and umbrella rentals. It also has a lifeguard on duty. The water is calm, clear, and perfectly blue. The beach is free to the public and is open from sunrise until sunset.
Over the years, the Island of Bermuda has won several awards. It was voted Best Island in the Caribbean/Atlantic for the 17th time last year by the readers of Conde Nast Magazine. Trip Advisor ranked Bermuda 4th out of 25 destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico based on its natural beauty and modern conveniences. So the next time you’re dreaming of a beautiful tropical island, try Bermuda. You won’t be disappointed.