Photo courtesy of Bermuda Race Weekend
Try the Bermuda Triangle Challenge
Need motivation to exercise? Plan a trip to Bermuda during the island’s annual Marathon Weekend. More than 850 runners from around the world speed past the island’s best vistas on courses that range from easy to hard-core. Serious racers attempt the Bermuda Triangle Challenge: three races (a one-miler, a 10K, and a marathon) over three days.
By Jen Murphy, AFAR Contributor
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Clear Water and Colorful Coral Reefs
Bermuda’s crystal clear water, warm waves, and abundant reef life make it a prime spot for snorkeling. Parrot fish and clown fish can be seen quite close to shore at Tobacco Bay, a popular spot in St. George’s that has calm water and natural rock formations. Many beaches have on-site, or nearby, equipment sales and rentals, including Warwick Long Bay. Tiny coves and nearby reefs make Southampton’s Church Bay a popular spot to snorkel. Horseshoe Bay Beach has large reefs to spend hours exploring hidden holes and finding fish and other sea life.
Seek out the Sun
Whether it’s a romantic stroll on the beach or a peaceful start to a fun-filled day, watching the sun sink below the surface or rise into the sky can be the highlight of any traveler’s trip and photo album. Bermuda’s jagged boulders, graceful palms and sapphire water set the stage for picture perfect sol searches. The south shore beaches of Elbow Beach, Church Bay, and Warwick Long Bay are great spots to catch a sunset, as are Black Bay Beach and Somerset Long Bay. Tobacco Bay Beach, Clearwater Beach, and Fort St. Catherine Beach are prime sunrise scenes.
Bermuda by Boat
The way of the water gives a different perspective to island life. Drift across the sapphire surface in a canoe or kayak, take a glass bottom boat tour, or rent a small craft to explore and picnic on remote islands. Charter cruises allow travelers to sit back and enjoy a leisurely cruise across the water while feeding schools of fish, learning about island history, or sipping wine by sunset. As stars twinkle overhead, underwater lights illuminate the water for a peek into the world beneath on night time glass bottom boat tours. Destiny Water Tours and Aquatic Bermuda are just a couple of the boat charter and rental companies in Bermuda.
Moongates and Memories
Between architectural icons, cliffs and coastlines, and historic attractions, Bermuda has more than enough picture perfect scenes to keep your Canon, Nikon, or iPhone clicking for hours. Moongates are the horseshoe-shaped formations found in gardens and entryways around the island. Snap a shot of yourself catching a kiss beneath these limestone arches. Capture more memories of a Bermuda honeymoon, anniversary, or romantic rendezvous high atop Fort St. Catherine. The bird cage, at Front and Queen streets in Hamilton, is another piece of iconic island architecture that deserves to be downloaded. Designed in the 1950s to provide protection for officers directing traffic, it is now more of a tourist attraction. Officers are often happy to pose for pictures.
Zip Around on a Scooter for Two
Because of its small size, there is no car rental in Bermuda. Residents are even restricted to one vehicle per household. One of the best ways to see the island is by scooter. As the scent of fragrant flowers follows you across the coast, down narrow lanes, and through wooded trails, you’ll pick up the taste of salty sea breezes, experience local neighborhoods, and discover off-the-beaten-path corners of the island. Pack a picnic and dine cliffside for sweeping views of the coastline. Stop off at roadside stands where local farmers sell fruits and vegetables. Remember to drive on the left.
Birdwatching by the Beach
With turtles, fragrant foliage, and native and endemic birds such as the Bermuda longtail, Eastern bluebird, and green heron, Bermuda beaches offer much more than what’s seen on the surface. Ponds made from groups of shallow rocks in protected coves are the perfect place to find turtles and other small marine animals. Bird sanctuaries border the beautiful beaches that face Castle Harbour and the South Shore, and graceful, white Bermuda longtails can be seen at Astwood Cove. The cedar trees, shrubs, and cliffs of Warwick Long Bay provide home and vegetation to a variety of bird life. Spittal Pond Nature Reserve has herons, ducks, and terns as well as natural steps carved into a rocky cliff. The view from the top offers hours of wave watching.
Savor the Tastes of the Islands
From fresh seafood, prime rib, and pasta to shepherd’s pie and signature spirits, Bermuda offers a taste of the tropics blended with a traditional British accent. Grilled seafood, paninis and wraps, ribs and lamb chops, and an extensive wine list make Mickey’s Bistro, right on the beach at Elbow Beach, the perfect place for lunch or dinner. Fresh seafood, Jamaican-inspired dishes, and cliffside dining with floor to ceiling sea views have put The Reefs Resort and Club and the Pompano Beach Club on Conde Nast’s list of“35 best island resorts for food.” Mixed with fresh fish, rum, and sherry pepper sauce, fish chowder is a staple of the island. Be sure to sample a Dark ‘n Stormy, created by blending Gosling’s rum with Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer.
While pink sand and tropical tones give a sense of relaxation and serenity, Bermuda’s beaches are not lacking in the way of adventurous watersports and fun-filled activities. Soar high above the beaches and reefs on a parasail, explore hidden caves and lagoons by kayak, or take a jet-ski tour to encounter marine animals and the watery wonders of an 1800s shipwreck. St. George’s Parasail Watersports operates in the Great Sound and Castle Harbour, giving single and double riders a unique view of turquoise water and coral reefs from high above the island. Skyrider Bermuda, found at the Royal Naval Dockyard, has a sit-down chair that launches from the deck of the boat, giving scenery seekers the best possible views of the Great Sound and north shore.
Go Beyond the Well-Known Beaches
Whether water wanderers are into swimming, snorkeling, or just strolling along the sand, nothing is better than discovering that you have a pristine stretch of coastline all to yourself. Bermuda has many beautiful and off-the-beaten path plots of sand and surf that are worth the extra effort to find. A field and rocky path leads to Whale Bay Beach, where sun worshippers can lounge with only the sound of crashing waves in the background. Chaplin Bay is another often overlooked oasis (in fact, it can disappear completely during high tide). It has a sheltered cove for those that want to get away from it all. Warwick Long Bay, named on the list of the World’s 100 Best Beaches by CNN, has a park surrounding it that leads to some small, remote beaches.
Dive Beneath the Surface
SCUBA fans will flip for Bermuda’s crystal clear waters, coral reefs, shipwrecks, and underwater caves. Many resorts and dive shops around the island offer tours, equipment rentals, and courses, including PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) level instruction. With water depths of 25 to 80 feet, both novice and experienced divers can seek adventure and challenge in Bermuda. The south shore reefs have caves, holes, and multicolored fish while the reefs and wrecks on the east end offer a variety of exploration possibilities. Luxury liners, schooners, steamer ships, and a Civil War paddlewheel steamer are just a few of the wrecks in Bermuda’s waters.
Stroll Through Gardens and Galleries
Art and nature go hand-in-hand in Bermuda’s tranquil atmosphere. The color and fragrance of formal gardens, mini plots, and public parks provides an escape from the heat of the day, or makes a romantic walk on a moonlit night. Colorful hibiscus, sweet-smelling lilies, banyan trees, and orchids thrive at the Bermuda Botanical Garden and the Bermuda Perfumery and Gardens. The Bermuda National Gallery is home to Bermuda’s national art collection, which includes African, Bermudian, and European paintings, decorative items, and textiles. The Windjammer Gallery features artistic renderings by Bermuda sculptors, painters, and textile artists.
Cozy Coves and Secluded Sand
Whether it’s snuggling upon pink sand, relaxing in a cozy cove, or a picnicking by the bay, couples can find several secluded strips of sand if they know where to look. Chaplin and Stonehole Beach are both small, and almost disappear at high tide. They have big, rugged rocks, but if relaxing is on the agenda, just sit back and listen to the waves crashing on the shore. A popular spot for weddings, Astwood Cove’s rocky shoreline, rugged cliffs, and steep pathway provide seclusion (and breathtaking photos), while its crashing waves make natural background music. With its sheltered swimming area, gentle waves, and remote location, Jobson’s Cove is a secret hideaway for romantics to sunbathe in privacy.
Exchange Vows on a Path of Pink Sand
Whether in a garden among tropical flowers, on the beach with waves crashing in the background, or high atop a hill overlooking coral reefs and beautiful blue water, a destination beach wedding in Bermuda is a date to remember. Many resorts have on-site wedding consultants that can plan the perfect day or evening wedding. Arrive at the reception in a horse-drawn carriage, a Bermuda tradition. Bermuda receptions range from four star dining and ballroom dancing to garden settings beneath the stars and sparkling soirees in crystal caves. Be sure to share a kiss beneath a moongate. These horseshoe-shaped arches found around the island are believed to bring a long and happy life to those who kiss beneath it.
Achieve Bliss on the Beach
From ashtanga to vinyasa and every asana and savasana in between, where better to renew your spiritual side while rejuvenating your physical side than on a setting in the sand? Salute the rising sun while holding a perfect warrior pose at a yoga session on the beach. Several Bermuda resorts offer sunrise yoga sessions on the beach, including the Fairmont Southampton, the Cambridge Beaches Resort and Spa, and The Reefs. Locals and visitors can experience the vast array of yoga teachings and styles at the Bermuda Yoga Festival, which features local and international yogis.
Adventurous activities and exciting encounters keep kids entertained. Kayak, stand-up paddleboard, and jet-ski rentals are just a few of the fun ways to spend family time in Bermuda. Practice that rowing arm by swishing through the water on a stand-up paddleboard or a kayak. In addition to kayak rentals, Somerset Bridge Watersports offers guided jet-ski tours where travelers can explore quiet coves, glide over crystal clear water, ride around the tip of the Bermuda triangle, and sail under the world’s smallest drawbridge, Somerset Bridge. Fantasea Diving and Watersports gives ecological guided kayak tours of Bermuda’s waters for ages six and up.
Swim with the Fish
Spend the day making friends with fish and discovering sunken treasures of all shapes and sizes. Offshore reefs provide protection from strong waves while gear rental shops, shallow water, and underwater surprises make snorkeling a snap on Bermuda beaches. Snorkel Park Beach, located at the Royal Naval Dockyard, has a white sand beach and snorkel gear rental. A sunken cannon and lots of friendly fish make this a prime spot for the smallest of snorkel fans. Located inside a national park, Clarence Cove has a sheltered bay protected by a reef. Church Bay’s reefs are easy to reach, and there are lots of hidden nooks for exploring. Underwater columns make Tobacco Bay a fun snorkel spot.