Photo by Danielle Walsh
The beach at Tobacco Bay, Bermuda
Here are a few reasons to check out the tiny isle.
Bermuda has been thrust into the international spotlight this year, acting as the host for America’s Cup 35. In case you missed it, the event was a star-studded, champagne-soaked affair (if a crowded one), and the defending champions, Team Oracle USA, lost the title to Team Emirates New Zealand. Bermuda’s Great Sound made the perfect stage for this action to unfold, and the fact that the tiny island was chosen to hold such a major event brought great pride to many Bermudians.
But the America’s Cup is over. And guess what? You should still go to Bermuda, land of endless stretches of beach, charming villages, and locals with the best laid-back vibe. Here are only a few reasons—and not all of them include a pink-sand beach.
Bermuda is an incredible diving destination
While making your descent into Bermuda, you can see its gorgeous ice-blue web of reefs from your plane window. No wonder it’s often referred to as the “shipwreck capital of the world”—the island’s waters are full of hazards for seafaring vessels. In fact, Bermuda’s human history began with a shipwreck. The Sea Venture, a ship carrying supplies to the struggling Jamestown colony, was separated from the rest of its rescue fleet in a storm and ran aground on the then-uninhabited island. Its crew and passengers were wrecked on Bermuda for 10 months while they built two new ships from the wreck and the island’s natural resources. Yet they found the place inhabitable enough to claim it as an English territory.
While the Sea Venture remains one of the most famous shipwrecks of the island, there are plenty more—many of which make excellent diving experiences. Combined with Bermuda’s clear waters, the island is a diver’s dream.
The island is home to one of the world’s few real perfumeries
We profiled The Bermuda Perfumery several months ago and got to visit this historic shop on our AFAR Experiences Bermuda trip in late April to see (and smell) it for ourselves. The building itself is worth the visit—historic Stewart Hall is one of the largest 18th-century houses in St. George’s, Bermuda’s charming colonial town to the northeast. When visiting, make sure to chat with perfumer Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone. In our profile on the perfumery, Ramsay-Brackstone explains that most perfume lines are created by major corporations—even famous designer perfumes. Here, you can take a class from the master herself and mix a scent that’s perfect for you. Or browse the selection of Bermuda-inspired scents—one of which was inspired by a shipwreck.
Its history is fascinating
In regard to St. George’s, there’s plenty of history to discover while winding down its narrow streets. In the daytime, the bright sunshine and sherbet-colored buildings give a cheerful vibe, but come nightfall, things start to feel a little spooky. The best way to learn about it? A tour called Haunted History. Local Kristen White started these tours to teach visitors and Bermuda residents alike about the island’s history in a unique and fun way. Part educational, part street performance, Haunted History introduces its audience to the ghosts of famous Bermudians—played by actors, of course.
You can view an impressive private art collection—in a hotel
Actually, impressive is a gross understatement. The Hamilton Princess Bermuda houses a private art collection that rivals that of many modern art museums. Stroll into the lobby and you’ll be greeted by pieces by some of the most well-known artists of the 20th and 21st centuries: Andy Warhol, Banksy, Murakami, Kusama, and more. If you’re staying in the hotel in a Fairmont Gold room, you’ll see even more impressive art up close in the Fairmont Gold lounge.
There’s a beach for everyone
Prefer a lively local scene with easy snorkeling and a delicious restaurant perched a few steps away? Head to Tobacco Bay. Would you rather trade sand for rocks and go leaping into the sea? Cliff jumping is a Bermudian favorite. If you’re staying at the Hamilton Princess, catch its hot-pink shuttle to its beach club, where ocean hammocks, complimentary kayaks and paddleboards, and attentive service will make you never want to return home. With 75 miles of coastline, you pretty much can’t miss the island’s famous beaches. And yes—there really is pink sand!
OK, it’s not changing that much. But a spate of development and a few transportation tweaks mean that the island is modernizing—slightly. Some new luxury hotels are popping up on the island, the most recent being The Loren, a stunning property perched right on a pink-sand beach with spacious, ocean-facing rooms and excellent food. Another change? You can now rent tiny cars—if you stay at the Hamilton Princess. The electric micro-vehicles, called Twizys, are the alternative to renting a moped (you can’t rent a regular car in Bermuda).
And while things change, others stay the same—the unique white-roofed homes, the incredible warmth of the locals, and that feeling of time moving at a more forgiving pace, which some might call “island time.” And that comforting sameness is another great reason to go to Bermuda over and over again.
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