Beautiful Bermuda is a convenient 2.5 hour flight from Atlanta, making it the perfect destination for a quick getaway from almost anywhere in the Southeast. Convenience of course is merely the start – Bermuda is at the top of our list for a multitude of reasons and needs to be on yours as well. With glittering peach-colored beaches, cerulean waters so bright they’re nearly neon, fresh seafood and some of the most hospitable people around, don’t wait for a honeymoon or retirement to heed the island’s call. If you can swing a longer weekend, Bermuda is the perfect destination, and we’ve got the highlights you can’t miss while you’re there.
Once you land in Bermuda, head immediately to any beach on the island. You don’t have to look far – around every curve are breathtaking stretches of shoreline. Beach enthusiasts, this is the place for you. The entire island is covered with serene, sandy spaces perfect for snorkeling, picnicking or working on a golden glow. We have a few of our favorites, some of the pinkest and most beloved by locals and tourists alike. But don’t let our chosen few limit you – there are what feels like hundreds (and every local has a different favorite, so don’t be afraid to stop and ask for a recommendation).
Some of the most renowned beaches are found on the southern shore of the island. Of those, Jobson’s Cove was above and beyond a favorite spot. Brilliantly hued Parrotfish nibble along the rocky outcroppings and are visible from yards away, and a winding stairway worn into the limestone cliffside leads to a spectacular view. Nearby, Horseshoe Beach provides visitors with one of the best spots on Bermuda to experience the pink sands, a feature credited to the microscopic red foraminifera that proliferate the surrounding coral reefs. As they die, their shells are broken down by waves and washed ashore. Upon closer examination of a handful of sand, you can see the tiny shell fragments that color the beach – and dusk brings out the peachy shade even more. If you find yourself migrating back and forth from Horseshoe to Jobson’s to Warwick Long Bay, and don’t manage to gravitate beyond this point, we don’t blame you. It’s hard to imagine moving on to any other cove or attraction once the magnetic blue waters pull you in.
However impossible to imagine, the north shore’s beaches are just as stunning. Tobacco Bay’s swimming pool-like shape proves to be snorkeling perfection, and Building Bay provides a bevy of frosted and glittering sea glass ripe for collection.
THE ULTIMATE JOYRIDE
When you need a rest from the sun, hop on a moped and ride the length of the island at least once. Nothing will get you better oriented to Bermuda’s nine parishes than getting comfortable on a moped. If you can bear to go light on the rum, you won’t need to worry about taxis, and Bermuda’s mix of island breeze (salty, floral, with a whisper of bike fuel) simply can’t be beat. Local Bermudians are also very forgiving and can easily identify tourists by the white helmets that gently suggest to surrounding motorists that they pass on by once the chance arises. The moped’s size and ease navigating the winding roads gives visitors instant mobility, unlocking every corner of Bermuda you could want to explore.
Isolated islands typically don’t bring to mind a diverse culinary wonderland. Resorts often peddle hollandaise-laden buffet fare, and many islands import a vast portion of food served there. However, Bermuda defies these expectations of being underwhelmed with some unique local dishes that demonstrate influences of many cultures that have influenced the island’s culinary history.
Of course, close proximity to the ocean (or being located in the middle of one), insures one island staple that is fresh as can be — the seafood, and a few of our favorite dishes are centered around exactly that. For starters, don’t leave the island without sampling a cup of Bermudian fish chowder, which more closely resembles a gumbo made with a roux than the creamier varieties of chowder served along the east coast. Dark, peppery, studded with bits of fish and stewed till the flavors are just right, the chowder is often served with a splash of inescapable black rum and pepper-infused sherry. It’s a potent mix, and everyone seems to believe theirs is best. Another popular dish (that we sought out more than once) is the ubiquitous fish sandwich. Served all over the island, the combo of slaw and flaky white fish is so satisfying after a day in the sun. The Swizzle Inn, a lovable tourist institution famed for its potent rum swizzles, serves one of our favorites, a blackened, catch-of-the-day version with fresh toppings and creamy tartar. For a foodie adventure, we challenge you to track down the nearly impossible to find Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy, which serves the locals’ go-to, a fried-fish sandwich served on raisin bread. Finally, keep your eyes peeled when perusing menus at any spot for local spiny lobster and rockfish – both are not-to-miss delicacies.
While many on vacation might gravitate towards casual eateries in between dips in the ocean, there are several spots on the island with elevated fare. A particularly memorable meal was dinner at The Dining Room, housed in Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, which is noteworthy not only for the carpaccio, but for the stunning views in every direction. Without question, dine during sunset. No matter whether you choose to dine upscale or beachside, those dreaming of unwinding on their vacation with beachy rum drinks, fear not. A dark and stormy is always minutes away. Sweet, dark, Goslings Black-Seal rum floats atop even sweeter ginger beer, and cut with a lime they go down so smooth, one after the other. Another Bermudian cocktail delicacy, the Rum Swizzle, is deceptively sweet (but packs a punch). In this concoction, several varieties of rums mingle with fruit juices, bitters and more to create a most potent punch. Needless to say, this tiny island will keep you well fed and watered during your stay.
HISTORIC ST. GEORGE
A trip to Bermuda isn’t complete without traveling to the historical epicenter, St. George’s parish. History buffs can view a replica of Deliverance, one of the ships sailed to Jamestown after being stranded on Bermuda’s shores (it’s shockingly tiny and hard to imagine being seaworthy), and several churches that date back to the colonial era. Jewel-like, colorful, plaster-covered churches adorn every parish, but St. Peter’s Church in St. George is a real treasure. Its graveyard is also stunning, each tombstone and headstone emblazoned with each of the departed’s identity as well as causes of death, making for a delightfully morbid adventure back in time. From there, explore the little alleyways coursing through St. George’s. Though hardly a car’s width, they provide the perfect setting for an afternoon stroll.
While the beaches keep us dreaming of the day we can return, there are still plenty of sights to see all over the island if you look a little more inland. The porous limestone of Bermuda’s foundation has led to both the dramatic seascapes and stunning underground caverns. Most notably, The Crystal & Fantasy Caves‘ dazzling aquamarine pools and stalactites leave visitors in awe. Depending on how you budget your time on the island, a visit to the Cathedral Cave in Hamilton Parish can be a quicker visit but still provide a glimpse of subterranean splendor — and you can even take a dip.
If underground exploration doesn’t appeal, there are still other ways to escape the heat. A stroll through the abandoned Southlands Estate property under the shade of the banyan trees offers an otherworldly respite, or take a swim in the ethereal Blue Grotto. For admirers of art, The Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art features artists depictions of Bermuda, with works by anyone from Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keefe, to contemporary artists known locally or those simply passing through.
WHEN TO GO
The short answer is anytime — Bermuda is perfect and everyone needs to visit. However, choosing what time of year you travel to Bermuda can yield drastically different (yet equally trip-worthy) results. Like many island destinations, there is definitely a high season, and cruise ships make the most of these sunny days between May and October. This is not to say summer isn’t a festive time to visit, but the beaches will definitely be more populated. The shoulder seasons, though with more temperate ocean temperatures, have the benefit of feeling as if the island is yours. Coves and inlets normally covered in tourists remain empty – so if you can bear cooler waters in exchange for solitude, this might be the perfect time to go.
When you’re ready to start planning your Bermuda escape, visit gotobermuda.com.
See where else we’ve been — check out the SB Travel archives!