BERMUDA: Pink Paradise
It is difficult to find a better way to spend your next vacation! Some of the most beautiful blue waters in the world surround Bermuda. The contrast of the pink sand beaches and rugged rocky coast paints a truly dazzling picture. Scuba divers can explore numerous wrecks and coral reefs in relatively shallow water (9–12m in depth) with virtually unlimited visibility. Many nearby reefs are readily accessible from shore by snorkellers, especially at Church Bay. Bermudians are known the world over for their warm hospitality. In addition to its beaches, there are a number of sightseeing attractions. Historic St George’s is a designated World Heritage Site.
BERMUDABERMUDA is a self-governing British overseas territory in the Atlantic Ocean north of the Caribbean, off the coast of North America east of North Carolina. It is one of the last remains of the once vast British colonial empire in North America. Hamilton is the capital, and only city. Bermuda is divided into various “parishes,” in which there are some localities called “villages,” such as Flatts Village, Tucker’s Town and Somerset Village. Despite its location well north of the Caribbean, Bermuda became an associate member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in 2003. Bermuda was discovered in 1505 by Spanish navigator Juan de Bermúdez who claimed to only find the island inhabited with pigs. Unoccupied, the island was settled by England in 1609, making it the oldest and most populous remaining British overseas territory. Its first capital, St George’s, was established in 1612 and is the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the Americas.
GeographyAlthough usually referred to in the singular, the territory of Bermuda consists of 181 islands, with a total area of 53.3km2. The largest island, Main Island, is sometimes itself called Bermuda. Despite its small land mass, there has been a tendency for place names to be repeated; there are, for example, two islands named Long Island, and St George’s Town is located on St George’s Island within St George’s Parish (each known as St George’s). The islands have ample rainfall, but no rivers or freshwater lakes. As a result drinking water is collected on the roofs of all buildings (by law) and in special catchment areas, and stored in tanks under the ground for each home or property. Each dwelling usually has at least one of these tanks forming part of its foundation.
ClimateBermuda has a remarkably mild subtropical climate that seldom allows extremes of either heat or cold. That makes it possible for most outdoor recreation in any month of the year — tennis and golf clubs for example are open year-round. Beaches remain open as well, but during the winter months the water temperature is not necessarily intended for the warm-blooded. Rainfall is spread fairly evenly throughout the year, averaging a little more than four inches a month. During the summer months, hurricanes occasionally pay Bermuda a visit. Bermuda is like a ship at sea in many ways, and the sunsets and sunrises are as beautiful as can be found on the ocean. The best time to visit Bermuda is from Spring through to Autumn. Bermuda’s humid subtropical climate is warmed by the nearby Gulf Stream. The mid-August temperatures rarely exceed 30°C. Winters are mild, with average daytime temperatures in January and February around 20°C, although cold fronts bring Arctic air masses that can result in rapid temperature drops. Atlantic winter storms, often associated with these cold fronts, can produce powerful, gusting winds and heavy rain.
Pink Sandy BeachesBermuda offers an array of exquisite beaches of pink sand and turquoise water. South Shore features the most beaches and the most photographed, with Warwick Park, Warwick Long Bay, and Horseshoe Bay comprising. There are dozens of coves and bays along the way offering protected swimming and snorkeling, and trails to explore adding to the ambiance. The mile-long Elbow Beach and John Smith’s Bay are favorites of locals and visitors alike. There are numerous small beaches, such as Parson’s Bay, Black Bay and Mangrove Bay throughout the parish of Sandy’s. Pembroke Parish features Clarence Cove, two smaller beaches at Admiralty House Park and Deep Bay, which is not easily accessible and known mainly to the locals. But no matter which you choose, Bermuda’s beaches are pink, private and pristine and guaranteed to provide a memorable experience.
- John Smith’s Bay: Off the beaten track in Smith’s parish, this popular locals’ beach is a little less crowded than the South Shore destinations but still boasts soft sand and great swimming and snorkelling. The Harrington Hundreds grocery store is just a few minutes away by moped if you want to make your own picnic.
- Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve: A tiny peninsula on the eastern edge of the island, only recently opened to the public, Cooper’s Island is actually a series of small coves connected by almost a mile of walking trails. The larger, but less picturesque (it’s all relative) Clearwater Beach is right next door.
- West Whale Bay: Named for the humpback whales that migrate past Bermuda in April and May each year, this is as good a place for whale watching as anywhere on the island. The grassy cliff-top that borders this Southampton beach is a great spot for a picnic.
- Snorkel Park: A great beach for families, out west in vibrant Dockyard. There are inflatables for the kids to rent, great snorkelling for dad and beach loungers for mum.
- Warwick Long Bay: To truly grasp the beauty of Bermuda’s South Shore, walk the length of Warwick Long Bay and clamber across the rocks, or take a detour over the sand dunes to Jobson Cove and Chaplin Bay.
- Shelly Bay: A parents’ dream beach, Shelly Bay boasts warm, shallow water, a soft sandy bottom and backs on to a playground and sports field. A favourite for kids and novice swimmers.
- Church Bay: Swim with shoals of brightly coloured parrot fish among the pristine coral reef that pierces the water just yards from shore at this small South Shore bay, widely revered as Bermuda’s best beach for snorkellers.
- Elbow Beach: A half-mile of white sand boasting stunning views of the Atlantic, Elbow Beach, in Warwick, is a playground for joggers, kiteboarders, beach volleyball players and SCUBA divers. There’s even a shipwreck within swimming distance of shore. You can join in the fun or just hire a deckchair and sit back and watch.
- Tobacco Bay: Famous for its stunning volcanic rock formations – natural sculptures that emerge from the glassy water, this picturesque, sheltered cove is also a snorkellers’ dream. The short walk from the old town of St. George is well worth it.
- Horseshoe Bay: A crescent of soft, pink sand, lapped by clear blue water, fringed by sand dunes and bordered with sandstone cliffs, garnished with swaying palms – Horseshoe, in Southampton Parish, is the Mecca of the island’s beaches and a must for every Bermuda visitor.
Diving & WatersportsExplore the depths of Bermuda’s waters, wrecks and reefs with scuba and snorkeling companies, or a unique helmet dive. If you do not want to get wet, there are plenty of glass bottom boats! Kayak through ‘Paradise Lake’ in the middle of the Great Sound, or join a jet ski tour and see the island from the wild side. Windsurfing, parasailing and water skiing are also available!
Main Sightseeing AttractionsThere is surprisingly large number of excellent sightseeing places in this tiny island:
- Town of St. George. A scenic UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest, continually inhabited British settlement in the New World. It boasts small winding streets with typical British Colonial architecture with fountains, gardens and squares, cobbled streets and plazas.
- Bermuda Maritime Museum, Pender Rd., Royal Naval Dockyard, Phone: 441-234-1418. Take 1/2 a day to go to the Royal Naval Dockyard. After the loss of its naval bases during the American Revolutionary War, the British Royal Navy relocated the headquarters of its Atlantic Fleet here from 1812 to 1957. The old limestone storage buildings, keep and fortress have been wisely redeveloped by the Bermuda Government into a tourist attraction and shopping centre.
- Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo, 40 North Shore Road, Flatts Village, Phone: (441) 293-2727. Daily 9AM-5PM (last admission 4PM). Centerpieced by a 140,000 gallon replica coral reef, this one of Bermuda’s main attractions. Over three hundred birds, reptiles and mammals and 200 species of fish. Adults $10, Seniors $5, ages 5 to 12 $5.
- Crystal and Fantasy Caves, Wilkinson Avenue, Bailey’s Bay, Phone: 441-293-0640. Daily 9:30AM-4:30PM (last admission 4:00). Two quite different caves to see.
- Spittal Pond (note: This was heavily damaged by Hurricane Fabian in 2003 and the process of fixing the trails and trees is still ongoing.)
- Devil’s Hole Aquarium, Harrington Sound Road, Hamilton, 441-293-2727. Small but fun. “Fish” for reef fish and turtles with bait, but no hooks. Daily 9:30AM-4:30PM. Adult $5, ages 5-12 $3, under 5 $.50.
- Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, 40 Crow Lane, East Broadway, Pembroke, just outside of Hamilton, Phone: 441-297-7219.
- Bermuda National Trust Museum known as the Globe Hotel.
- Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, St Anne’s Road, Southampton. One of the oldest cast iron structures in the world. First lit on May 1st 1846. You can climb its 180 steps to the observation deck surrounding the lamp, which offers spectacular views of the island and the waters around. There is a Tea Room at its base offering drinks and light fare.
Bermuda FortsBermuda has many examples of large fortifications and smaller batteries spread throughout the island which were built between 1612 after first settlement and manned until 1957. For its small size the island had approximately 100 fortifications built. Many have been restored, primarily the larger ones, and are open to the public with dioramas and displays. Many have their original cannons in place. Some lie on outlying islands and islets and can only be accessed via boat, or have been incorporated into private properties and resorts. Some of those which can be accessed are:
- Fort St. Catherine , St. George Parish north (has displays and dioramas and replica Crown Jewels)
- Gates Fort, St. George Parish east (guarding Town Cut channel entrance)
- Alexandra Battery, St. George Parish east
- Fort George, St. George Parish (overlooking the Town of St. George)
- St. David’s Battery, St. George Parish east
- Martello Tower / Ferry Island Fort, St. George Parish west (at Ferry Reach)
- King’s Castle / Devonshire Redoubt / Landward Fort, St. George Parish south (on Castle Island, accessed via boat)
- Fort Hamilton, Pembroke Parish (overlooking the City of Hamilton)
- Whale Bay Battery, Southampton Parish west.
- Fort Scaur, Sandys Parish (overlooking the waters of the Great Sound)
- The Keep at the Dockyard, Sandys Parish (within the Maritime Museum)
GolfBermuda has many golf courses and driving ranges spread out along its length.
- St. George Golf Course, St. George Parish, north of the Town of St. George.
- Tuckers Point Golf Course / Mid Ocean Golf Course, St. George Parish, near Tucker’s Town.
- Ocean View Golf Course, Devonshire Parish on northern shore.
- Horizons Golf Course, Paget Parish south-west. (9 holes)
- Belmont Hills Golf Course, Warwick Parish east.
- Riddell’s Bay Golf and Country Club, Warwick Parish west.
- Fairmount Southampton Princess Golf Course, Southampton Parish east.
- Port Royal Golf Course, Southampton Parish west.
- Bermuda Golf Academy and Driving Range, Southampton Parish west.