With world renowned beaches and iconic pink sand, Bermuda is a tropical haven on the ‘must visit’ list of most travelers. Surprisingly, this small island is actually an independent British territory, but with its ideal location, Bermuda is a unique mix of British and Caribbean culture. This summer I found myself on a whirlwind trip to Bermuda, visiting for a short 3 days. Having so little time to pack in as much as possible allowed me to nail down the top 10 things to do while visiting. Whether you’re the sun-soaking and beach-hopping kind or an adventure-seeker, Bermuda has enough to see and do to fill your itinerary.
Don’t stay at a hotel
To really be immersed into the island culture of Bermuda, there’s no better way than to stay in a private, pastel-colored home. Here you can enjoy the comforts of an island home – more secluded, more affordable (hotels in Bermuda are notoriously expensive) and more authentic. Try Airbnb or Bermudarentals.com to find the perfect place.
Rent a scooter at Oleander's
Covering the 22-mile length of the island in a day is possible with the right tools and scooters are the way. You’ll don the recognizable white helmet which locals associate with tourists, and drivers are very respectful when sharing the narrow, winding roads. Take note that the incessant honking probably doesn’t have to do with you. With a population of 65,000, everybody knows everybody, and it’s common practice to honk when spotting a familiar face.
The capital city, Hamilton, acts as Bermuda’s ‘downtown’ center. Lined with multi-colored buildings in pastel hues, the colonial history of the island is palpable here. Full of botanical-themed boutique stores, Hamilton has the sweetest shopping Bermuda has to offer. If you are here on a summer evening don’t miss Harbour Nights, a bustling market on Front Street where local shop owners showcase their artisanal products, and buskers narrate the scene with lively music. Hungry? Try the Lobster Pot for a fresh, seafood lunch and Mad Hatters for a fun, fusion dinner.
Take a raincheck at the aquarium
Flash storms are a regular occurrence in Bermuda but they don’t last long. Often they are a welcome reason to get out of the heat and do something indoors. The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ) offers the opportunity to not only view the exquisitely diverse marine life of Bermuda (over 200 species in the aquarium alone), but also walk through the seven-acre zoo and gain close proximity with some friendly animals. The museum contains fascinating insights into the conservation efforts of the zoo, as well as history of the aquarium which, established in 1926, is one of the oldest in the world.
Drink rum at the Swizzle Inn
If you are new to Bermuda, that likely means you are new to experiencing rum swizzle. There’s a reason this restaurant’s catchphrase is ‘Swizzle In, Stagger Out’. Rum swizzle is a heavenly, full bodied, tropical concoction that is heavy on the booze in the most discrete way possible. A mix of white and dark rum, pineapple and orange juice, bitters and fruit liquors, this drink is a metaphor for the vibrant life and culture of Bermuda. It’s delicious, it’s dangerous… order lots of it!
Cool off with homemade ice-cream at Bailey’s
If you’re visiting the Swizzle Inn on Blue Hole Hill, skip dessert there and hop across the street to Bailey’s Ice Cream. Mint green in color, this family-owned ice creamery serves some seriously delicious homemade scoops in a variety of flavors. After soaking in the sun or getting ‘swizzled’, there’s nothing more refreshing than a cold, homemade ice cream. Try the famous Bermuda banana or rum raisin, or, if you’re feeling indulgent, a hot fudge sundae.
Bermuda is decorated with coral-pink sand beaches, each offering a unique experience of its own. Elbow Beach is the longest and deepest beach of this island; owned by the Elbow Beach resort it is a hotspot for tourists. Horseshoe Bay, another beach frequently visited by tourists, offers sweeping views of the Bermuda oceanfront if you are brave enough to climb the cavernous, volcanic rocks. If you are looking for less populated beaches, try John Smith’s Bay in Paget, or Clearwater beach in St. David’s island, connected by The Causeway bridge.
Eat and dance like a local at King Henry the VIII
This 40-year-old restaurant in Southampton offers a full stack of choices from traditional dinner fare to exceptionally fresh sushi. Widely unknown to tourists visiting Bermuda, this is a local hotspot on weekends where a live band plays crowd favorites all night long. It is not uncommon for people to abandon their dinners on a Saturday night to hit the dance floor positioned by the band. King Henry’s is a fun and lively venue for people of all ages to enjoy a night out.
Hike the railway trail
Prior to the 1940s railway trains were used by commuters, schoolchildren and visitors alike to get across Bermuda. The railway line took a scenic route across the coastline, but was eventually closed down because it was no longer necessary. The railway track still remains and is now an official trail line for people wishing to walk through and experience the lush landscape natural to Bermuda. Of the 22 miles of railway initially used by trains, 18 remain available to walk.
Escape the Heat in the Crystal Caves
Duck out of the sweltering heat and humidity into one of Bermuda’s most hidden gems for cooling off – the Crystal Caves. Eighty steep steps down takes you 63 meters below ground level to the staggering formations of stalactites and stalagmites meeting electric blue pools of water. The ceiling of these caves is dripping with these formations like nature’s chandelier. Estimated to have formed over 30 million years, these caves are a truly astonishing sight.