Pink sand beaches, pastel buildings, charming historic towns — Bermuda offers 21 square miles of vacation perfection. Three diverse regions, each delivering their own blend of character and culture, make up this picturesque destination: From the cosmopolitan city of Hamilton in the center to the Town of St. George to the east to the Royal Naval Dockyard to the west, there is something exciting to discover at every turn. Even better? Part of the beauty of Bermuda (beyond its natural wonders) is the ease of getting there. The island is situated 650 miles from Cape Hatteras, N.C. and is just a 90-minute non-stop hop from New York City, making it ideal for spending a Summer Friday as well as the weekend. Here’s how to make the most of a few days there.
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Savor the Surf and Sand
One of the biggest draws of Bermuda is its beautiful beaches. Set on the South Shore, Horseshoe Bay Beach fills Instagram feeds on the regular, and for good reason. Rimmed by dramatic rock formations, this horseshoe-shaped enclave showcases a dreamy stretch of pink sand and cerulean waters. Tucked amid jagged rock cliffs, Jobson’s Cove is a scenic and secluded spot to park your towel for the day and take a dip in the serene lagoon. Near Hamilton, Elbow Beach and its curved shoreline offer calm, clear waters with coral reefs and glimpses of a shipwreck below.
Stay in Style
From luxe oceanfront resorts to quiet cottages, you’ll find a number of inviting places to call home away from home. Several hotels, like the Royal Palms and Rosewood Bermuda, offer a free night when you book this summer. Located on a 30-acre peninsula, Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa near the Royal Naval Dockyard offers high-end cottage-style living and four private beaches. For a more intimate boutique-hotel experience, opt for the Victorian-era Royal Palms Hotel in the city of Hamilton. Set amid Tucker’s Point Club golf community, Rosewood Bermuda has a members-only club feel with its private pink-sand beach. For a quaint escape in a historic setting, check into Fourways Inn & Cottage Colony in Paget, once a private estate built in 1727.
Discover the World Underwater
Home to more than 300 sunken ships (more per square mile than anywhere else in the world), Bermuda is the shipwreck capital of the Atlantic Ocean. Divers will discover such treasures as the Cristóbal Colón, a 499-foot-long Spanish luxury liner and the largest known shipwreck on the island, spanning 100,000 square feet along the north shore reef. Snorkelers adore the clear waters of Tobacco Bay in the Town of St. George, where swimming among blue parrotfish, grouper and blue walruses is guaranteed.
Set Out to Site Sea
Cue up your yacht rock: While there’s a lot to look at under the depths, exploring the islands atop the sea is equally thrilling. Bermuda’s glass-like waters and winds make for ideal sailing conditions. Catch the wind along the Great Sound, which played host to the 35th America’s Cup, or ride off into the horizon in the vast Atlantic Ocean. Charter a private boat with Sail Bermuda or ride with Winsome’s Famous Homes & Hideaways Cruise for a tour of some of the island’s most beautiful colonial homes. Bermuda Reef Explorer gives you a view of worlds above and below via glass bottom boat. For the ultimate in romantic relaxation, hop on a sunset cruise to enjoy a cocktail under the stunning sky.
One of Bermuda’s best-kept secrets is Crystal Caves, a staggering system of million-year-old subterranean caves with limestone icicles, calcite mineral deposits that resemble frozen waterfalls, and walls that sparkle from minerals. Beneath the Grotto Bay Beach Resort are two underground grottos: Prospero’s Cave and Cathedral Cave, offering awe-inspiring rock formations amid turquoise waters. For major relaxation, enjoy a massage in the mystical stalactite-filled world of Grotto Bay’s Natura Spa, situated inside the 500,000-year-old Prospero’s Cave.
Wine and Dine
With its Caribbean, British, African, Portuguese and Native American roots, Bermuda’s cuisine is a multi-flavored melting pot featuring casual beachfront bites and five-star dining. You haven’t fully arrived until you’ve tried the flash-fried fresh snapper sandwich at Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy near the city of Hamilton. Naturally, fresh fish and seafood are a mainstay here, and many restaurants have relationships with local fisherman. One table to book: Marcus, serving fine Caribbean and Bermudian fare by chef Marcus Samuelsson with a view of Hamilton Harbor. And don’t miss the award-winning Ascots Restaurant with its mix of international cuisines. (Tip: Order the signature oven-roasted and panko-crusted Barbary duck.)
Get in Touch with Nature
Beauty abounds in Bermuda, both in the water and in the wild. Explore woods and beaches punctuated by trails and wildlife, including giant land crabs at Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve on the southeast point of the island. In the springtime, if you’re lucky, you might spot a whale from the Wildlife Observation Tower. Known by locals as Tom Moore’s Jungle, named for the Irish poet who wrote many of his most famous works here, Walsingham Nature Reserve provides 12 acres of verdant forest trails, mangrove ponds, natural swimming grottos and the famed Crystal Caves. Replete with wildflower meadows and walking trails, the Bermuda Arboretum is a lush 22-acre park that doubles as a bird habitat.
Go Back in Time
Founded in 1609 by shipwrecked British sailors, Bermuda has a storied past. The Royal Naval Dockyard, a fortress turned bustling town, houses the National Museum of Bermuda. Here, you’ll see treasures taken from shipwrecks, cannons, small watercrafts and artwork. In Southampton Parish, climb the 185-step spiral staircase of Gibbs’ Hill Lighthouse, built in 1846, to savor one of the best views on the island. It’s one of only two cast-iron lighthouses in the world still standing. Head over to the historic Town of St. George, a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded in 1612, and wind your way along the narrow cobbled streets to admire the colonial architecture.
Sharpen Your Swing
Thanks to its near-perfect weather and scenic vistas, Bermuda has more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in the world. Port Royal’s public golf course hosted the PGA Grand Slam for seven consecutive years and affords 6,842 yards of green with 18 championship holes. Port Royal is excited to host the Bermuda Championship – The PGA Tour’s first official annual event here – Oct. 31 to Nov. 19, 2019. Home of the Grey Goose World Par 3 Championships, Turtle Hill Golf Club features 18 challenging holes and killer views of the Atlantic Ocean, Tucker’s Town and the Castle Islands. Swing in the footsteps of Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Mid Ocean Club Golf Course, where the rolling greens are situated on a cliff overlooking the water.
Shop Like a Local
From crafts to high-end resort fashions, shopping comes easy here. Stroll the stylish waterfront shops in Hamilton, where you’ll find A.S. Cooper & Sons Limited department store, which has sold fine fashions and homewares since 1897, or hit TABS for those eponymous Bermuda shorts in every color. Eclectic Urban Cottage on Front Street is a must for edgy fashion and decor like reclaimed road signs, and The Clocktower Mall at the Royal Naval Dockyard features more than 20 shops with authentic Bermuda clothing, crafts and souvenirs. In St. George’s, Lili Bermuda perfumery has sold fragrances made from the island’s flowers since 1928. You can take a free tour to learn how the perfumes are crafted or bring a bottle home for a sweet-smelling souvenir.