The 35th America’s Cup has officially arrived in Bermuda—for an entire month of events and, of course, high-speed sailing on the mid-Atlantic island’s Great Sound. Thousands of spectators are expected to visit Bermuda’s shores this month, but what’s the best way to experience the greatest race on water? Get yourself to Bermuda, for starters. With nonstop, two-hour flights from several East Coast gateways, this pink-sand paradise is poised for the sailing spotlight.
Arrive in Style
The easiest way to arrive at the America’s Cup village is via a 15-minute ferry from the city of Hamilton that runs directly to its main entrance (ferries depart Hamilton from 10:45 a.m. then make several returns from 4:30 p.m. onward; $5). If you’d prefer to drive yourself, then rent a scooter—locally called a bike—since car rentals are not permitted in Bermuda. With locations across the island, Oleander is a good place to start, as is Smatts Cycle Livery with offices near hotels in Hamilton, Southampton, and Tuckers Town. Just remember: Stay on the left-hand side of the road.
One of the reasons Bermuda was chosen to host the America’s Cup is because the racecourse provides a world-class spectator experience. So where should you watch the races? High rollers can wine and dine at Club AC, where tickets start from $600 and the sterling silver Auld Mug is often on display; partygoers should check out the Dark ’n’ Stormy bar, a Gosling’s rum-infused sports bar with several high-definition TVs; and fans wanting a ballpark-style experience can buy seats in the grandstands where beer vendors roam the steps. Tip: Want a premium viewing experience without a high-end price tag? Buy a general admission ticket (from $20) and head to the Mouton Cadet tent, where a $55 bottle of wine will buy you access to its open-air viewing platform—the same view as the ritzy Club AC.
Grab Some Grub
If you want a taste of Bermuda, arrive the village hungry—you’ll have plenty of local cuisine to choose from. At Rosa’s, try its award-winning fish sandwich, a fried snapper filet with the works that won the Best Bermuda Fish Sandwich competition in 2015; eat brisket, pulled pork, and other southern barbecue staples at Smokin’ Barrel; try island-inspired single serving pies, like the Gombey pie with lobster, shrimp, and scallops at the Bermuda Pie Company; sample fresh fruit smoothies and hearty salads with locally grown greens at Devil’s Isle; and dig into wood-fired pizzas with all the toppings at J&B pizza (the Chingas, a classic cheese pizza, is named after a Bermudian slang expression of delight).
Think Before You Drink
You can’t go very far in Bermuda without finding a bar that serves a Dark ’n’ Stormy, the island’s national drink made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum and spicy ginger beer. Fortunately, the America’s Cup took a cue from its host nation; the village is home to bars galore. Sip fine champagne at the Moet & Chandon tent, where a bottle of bubbly will also give you access to its race viewing deck—indeed the same view granted to grandstand patrons; sample crisp rosés and sauvignon blanc blends at the Mouton Cadet tent, where you can also play bocce in its shaded sand pit; or grab a mixed drink, draft beer, and, yes, a Dark ’n’ Stormy at the Docksider’s tent next to the main stage. Tip: Don’t forget a reusable water bottle to refill at the free water stations; single-use bottles are banned from the village.
All in the Family
Got little ones in tow? Then head directly to the Orbis Kids Zone, a child-friendly mini-village perfect for kids ages three and up. At the Endeavour Education Station, kids can enjoy hands-on activities in several “STEAM Through Sailing” learning stations covering sustainability, health and nutrition, technology and innovation, and science (think virtual reality goggles, balance boards, and more). There’s also a sailing-inspired playground that helps children develop coordination through a range of obstacles that require them to use balance to play (like rolling beams or rocking on wooden catamarans). When thirst calls, line up for a fresh-squeezed lemonade at Ashley’s Lemonade, a beloved local favorite served up by young Bermudian entrepreneur Ashley Stephens.
Shop Till You Drop
The official America’s Cup Superstore is packed with everything and anything a sailing enthusiast could ever don, including AC-branded Sperry topsiders, colorful Bermuda shorts from TABS, and team-branded gear galore. Problem is, it’s packed with pre- and post-race shoppers, which makes finding the right apparel a chore and waiting in line to purchase it a bore. Tip: For effortless shopping, visit the store between 2-4 p.m., typically when America’s Cup teams are racing on the water. You may miss a few minutes of high-speed action, but you’ll have the store all to yourself.
Float Your Boat
For those who want to see the sailing action up close and personal, hop aboard an official America’s Cup spectator boat. There are 18 in the fleet, from 125-passenger party boats to intimate 20-person motor cruisers, so there will be lots of opportunities to get on the water—just be sure to book your tickets in advance because spectator boats tend to sell out quickly. You can’t bring food or drinks, but vessels will have cash bars plus snacks for sale aboard every cruise.
Paint the Town
Aside from a handful of days when it’s open past dusk, the America’s Cup village closes at 5:30 p.m. every day, which means you’ll need somewhere to go when the sun goes down. Start your pub crawl in the city of Hamilton, where you’ll find the majority of Bermuda’s bars and restaurants. At RED you’ll sip handcrafted cocktails and high-end martinis on its chic, Front Street balcony; at the Pickled Onion, dance to live DJs on Friday and Saturday nights; with 22 high-def TVs, you can watch the big game, or any game for that matter, at Flanagan’s Outback Sports Bar; or belly up to the handsome granite bar at Port O’ Call, where Bermuda’s power brokers often convene for pre-dinner drinks. Care to venture out of Hamilton? Then head to the Rum Cellar, an intimate cocktail lounge at the Fairmont Southampton where you can canoodle on low-slung couches from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. nightly.