The Best of Bermuda
It’s only 22 miles long, but Bermuda fits a lot into one small island with attractions from underground caverns to its famous pink-sand beaches. The island has some of the best golf courses in the world, and world-class sport-fishing – or delve into Bermuda’s history with a visit to one of its old churches.
60 South Shore Road, Paget PG 04, Bermuda
Crashing waves serve as the soundtrack to your stay at Elbow Beach, situated on 50 lush acres along Bermuda’s rose-hued southern coast. Decorated with exposed beams, tiled floors, and neutral color schemes, the spacious cottage-style rooms are the portrait of coastal elegance—think coral-emblazoned throw pillows, wicker benches at the foot of the beds, and ocean or garden views through French doors. Polished-pebble paths lead the way to the spa, which offers treatments inspired by local ingredients, from a ginger-and-coconut scrub to a hibiscus bath. Grab a rum swizzle in the lounge, relax by the curving perimeter of the pool, or snorkel, swim, and kayak at the hotel’s private beach. You might also prefer to hit the pavement: Elbow Beach is mere minutes from the capital of Hamilton, Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse, and four 18-hole championship golf courses.
From the outside, with its whitewashed facade and louvered windows, this Anglican house of worship in the center of St. George’s is a postcard British-colonial church. Its founding dates back to the earliest months of English settlement on the island (the town of St. George’s was established by the Virginia Company in 1612), though the oldest surviving portions of the structure are from 1620. It also claims the distinction of being the oldest continuously active Protestant church in the Western Hemisphere. Inside the ancient cedar doors is an homage to Bermuda’s maritime roots: The ceiling, also carved of cedar, echoes the ribs of a ship’s hull. A portion of the cemetery designated for the burial of slaves prior to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833 is part of the island’s African Diaspora Heritage Trail.
Maritime Ln, Sandys MA 01, Bermuda
The first fortification to occupy this spot on the northern tip of Bermuda was built from wood in 1612; it was replaced just two years later by a stone structure. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this fort was rebuilt and expanded several more times over the centuries as the needs of the Royal Navy changed and its presence on Bermuda increased. The final expansion in the 19th century included the addition of military housing and new gun positions. Today the site, which sits between St. Catherine Beach and Achilles Bay, includes a dry moat, numerous stone buildings, and a museum that features antique weapons and a gallery of dioramas that trace the fort’s various iterations.
South Rd, Bermuda
On Bermuda‘s southwest coast lies one of the world’s most spectacular beaches. This horseshoe-shaped strand of pink sand is the island’s most photographed—and with good reason. (The blush hue of the sands comes from its cocktail of crushed coral, shells, and calcium carbonate.) It’s set between translucent turquoise waters and limestone cliffs, which produces an effect that’s enchanting. There is a lifeguard on duty and chair and snorkeling-gear rentals are available; there’s also a beachside café. A walking trail winds over the dunes to neighboring coves. Adjacent Baby Beach offers shallow waters ideal for snorkeling.
Lighthouse Road, St Anne's Rd, Cross Bay SN 01, Bermuda
Built in 1846, this is one of the oldest cast-iron lighthouses in the world. It was visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, shortly after her coronation. For spectacular island and sea views, trek up the 185 steps to the lighthouse’s lantern. The adjacent restaurant, the Dining Room, is open for lunch and dinner, and serves pastas, pizzas and more-substantial entrées.
16 Point Finger Road
Bermuda’s Botanical Gardens, established in 1898, sit on 36 acres in Paget Parish and are home to hundreds of flora species. There’s an impressive collection of orchids, along with hibiscus, fruit trees, and a palm garden. Site highlights include the sensory garden, the mighty Bermuda cedar trees, and the freesia flowers that (perhaps) inspired the title of John Lennon’s album Double Fantasy. Three times a week, 90-minute guided tours are offered, while entry is free every day. Located on the grounds is Camden House, an early-18th-century Georgian home that is the official residence of Bermuda’s premier (though it is currently used only for official functions).
7 Camber Road Royal Naval Dockyard BM 01, MA MA 01, Bermuda
Brilliantly hued ceramics fill the shelves of this boutique and working collective studio. Many of the items are salt-glazed, which gives stoneware a distinctive glossy sheen; all are expertly crafted by local artisans. The studio is known for its customized house plaques—many featuring family crests—as well as beautiful tableware. There are also vases and ceramic wall hangings inspired by local flora and fauna.
19 Maritime Lane, Royal Naval Dockyard MA BX, Bermuda
Rum cakes, so the story goes, were once hard biscuits that got dunked in the daily serving of black liquor provided to sailors of yore. Whatever the origin, the recipe has improved over the years, and you can taste the newer—and softer—versions soaked in island rum at the Bermuda Rum Cake Company. This “cakery,” which is housed in a historic dockyard, is a Bermudan marquee attraction. Sharing a space with a glasswork factory, the bakery allows visitors to see the classic treats prepared and packaged and also try free samples. In addition to traditional cakes with lemon and vanilla, there are ones flavored with chocolate and coconut—as well the Swizzle, dotted with apricots, cherries, pineapple, and other ingredients.
8 Crystal Caves Road, Hamilton Parish CR 04, Bermuda
Along with pink sands and green golf courses, these subterranean grottoes are among Bermuda‘s iconic sites. First discovered in 1907 by the same family who still owns them, the caverns have spectacular crystal formations, crystalline pools, and underground waterways. Guided tours of the Crystal Cave, which measures more than 1,600 feet long and more than 200 feet deep, explain the differences between stalagmites and stalactites as well as the science behind the impressive underwater formations. A visit to the adjacent Fantasy Cave, which is deeper still, is included in the ticket price.
17 Barry Rd, Bermuda
The beaches of Bermuda are justifiably famous, but this strand in St. George’s owes its fame to its awesome expanse of sea glass. Sitting under the Alexandra Battery, a fort constructed in the 1860s, the entire stretch of coast is blanketed in weathered, colorful glass pieces. The mother lode of treasures is found in an adjacent cave, which is best accessed at low tide. Among the smoky fragments of amber, green, and white glass, there are scattered remnants of pottery and the occasional blue piece. There’s even more sea glass to be found snorkeling offshore; this area too is easiest to navigate at low tide.
3 Burnaby St, Hamilton, Bermuda
For yogis, practicing while on vacation is a must-do. On Bermuda, a pretty sea view can be a bonus with every eagle, warrior, and downward-dog pose. On the west side of Hamilton, practitioners can take their poses on the water with SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard) Yoga at Lucky Elephant Wellness. The hour-long session includes pranayama (breath work) and postures performed on wide, slip-resistant boards. It’s all bookended with a paddle to and from the practice point. The only requirement is competence in swimming; for those new to stand-up paddleboarding—or yoga—the boards can be tethered for more stability. Private paddleboard lessons are also available here if you want to get more comfortable on the sea.
11 Front Street
This chic shop on Front Street in Hamilton is an assemblage of urbane-rustic goods curated by owner and style setter Nicole Golden. The housewares-heavy collection includes vintage, repurposed, and locally made items; popular offerings include bespoke throw pillows that are emblazoned with island images and nautical maps. Lighting and furniture made from reclaimed materials are another mainstay. The hip retailer is also a showcase for regional artisans like Rebecca Little who, inspired by textiles, creates delicate jewelry pieces from metal. Follow the boutique on social media for pop-up announcements.
Until 1948, a train traveled the length of Bermuda from east to west, some 22 miles. Just over 15 years later the process of converting the rail lines into a paved path for bikers and walkers began, and now 18 miles are open to the public. It is most often explored in stages, whether on bike, horse, or foot, as it winds past thick vegetation, over centuries-old bridges, and through tunnels—even hugging the coastline in some sections. A particularly pretty stretch is the two-mile route between Somerset Village and Somerset Bridge, often considered the smallest drawbridge in the world.
Birders, hikers, and all manner of nature lovers score big with a visit to this former NASA tracking station and U.S. naval base on the northeast coast of Bermuda. Despite its name, Cooper’s Island is no longer an island, having been connected to St. David’s Island via land reclamation since the 1940s. While the U.S. military has moved on, the wildlife sanctuary is still home to the base of a radar tower that tracked shuttle movements in the early days of the Space Race. Today, the 12-acre reserve is crisscrossed with paths and fringed with pristine beaches. Of particular note is Clearwater Beach, which teems with conch and turtles. Inland, a restored lake and marshland are home to crabs and seabirds. The former radar tower makes an ideal perch for bird-watching.
29 Church St, Hamilton, Bermuda
With soaring arches, stained-glass windows, and details carved from stone imported from France, Bermuda’s Anglican cathedral is a bit of Gothic grandeur in the heart of Hamilton. Scottish architect William Hay was responsible for the design and construction of the grand building. After two fires—one of them a case of arson—the edifice was officially consecrated in 1911. Climb the bell tower’s 155 stairs for panoramic views that stretch from the city to the Royal Naval Dockyard and the north shore.