The common misconception is that Bermuda lies in the Caribbean. But this cluster of islands is less than 700 miles off the coast of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean. Bermuda is a short, three-hour flight from several travel hubs on the eastern coast of the U.S. It is a self-governing, British Overseas Territory that offers a subtropical climate with pleasant, mid-60s temperatures in the winter, and mid-80s in the summer. Bermuda has no rainy season, which allows for a wide variety of things to do throughout every season.
Bermuda has three regions, the West End, Central Bermuda, and the East End. The capital city of Hamilton is a colorful, lively harbor city in Central Bermuda. In the summer months, head to the city’s main thoroughfare, Front Street, and join in on the festive Wednesday night weekly street party, Harbour Nights. Between 7 and 10 p.m., officials shut down Front Street and stop all vehicle traffic. This allows visitors to explore the artisan shops and eateries, chow down on street food, take in the cultural performances, dance, and mingle with fellow travelers and locals alike.
The turquoise-blue waters are a haven for water sports enthusiasts in Bermuda, with tons of options available for jet skiing, snorkeling, paddleboarding, and more. But one of the newer water-sport sensations in Bermuda is flyboarding, which has developed into a competitive sport in recent years. It starts with strapping boots with jet nozzles to your feet. A long hose attaches to a jet ski. Water pumps through the hose to the jet nozzles, which propel the rider up into the air using the thrust of the water jets. Riders can fly, perform acrobatic moves, or dive in and out of the water dolphin-style. Visit Coconut Rockets on the West End of the island, the first flyboarding outfit in Bermuda, to try out this fast-growing sport for yourself.
From 1809 until 1951, the Royal Navy Dockyard served as a military port for England. Today, the stone buildings and wharves instead house art galleries, shops, craft markets, restaurants, and other entertainment options. The Dockyard’s National Museum of Bermuda Military will fascinate history with its displays of 500 years-worth of maritime artifacts. The museum is a treasury full of the historic and cultural stories of Bermuda, including its role in trans-Atlantic slavery and as a penal colony for English and Irish convicts. The Dolphin Quest is a large sanctuary outside of the Dockyard walls, where visitors can touch or swim with the dolphins.
A haven for wildlife and an important rocky shore habitat, the Spittal Pond Nature Reserve near Smith’s Parish is one of the natural wonders of Bermuda. Enjoy 64-acres of a diverse landscape, featuring an array of bird species and plant life. But the most interesting area of this reserve is the unique geological rock formation, “The Checkerboard.” Over time, weather and water eroded cracks and joints into this large, flat slab of limestone, leaving behind a rare geological formation which takes on the appearance of a checkerboard. Clearly marked hiking trails make for a pleasant hike through the reserve. Leashed pets are welcome.
There are natural wonders, far below the surface, that earn a place on the list of top things to do in Bermuda. The Crystal Cave and the Fantasy Cave are underground geological attractions in Hamilton Parish. These caves are popular tourist destinations, but the unique rock formations, underground pools, and rare chandelier clusters are ideal for both amateur and professional spelunkers. Certified cave guides offer tours of one or both of the caves, which maintain a cool 50-degree temperature year round. Try one of the evening lantern tours offered during the summer months.
Travel experts rank this famous beach as one of the top 20 beaches in the world. The picturesque shoreline at Horseshoe Bay Beach is also one of the most photographed. The soft, pink sand, and clear blue water are inviting and worth the visit. Try visiting in the early mornings to avoid crowds between May and October, the height of tourist season. Stroll down to Horseshoe Bay’s second beach, Port Royal Cove. Families enjoy this area because of its calm, shallow waters. A large rock formation separates the two beaches. Feeling adventurous? Climb to the top of the formation for a panoramic view of the area.
Don’t expect to find a fast-food franchise in Bermuda. The “Prohibited Restaurant Act” forbids foreign fast-food chains on the island. Officials allow only one KFC to continue operation because it opened before the law was in place. But with all the delicious local delicacies across the island, who needs fast food? Bermuda’s international-style cuisine offers Caribbean, British, West African, Native American, and Portuguese influences. The codfish breakfast, featuring boiled or steamed salt cod, onions, boiled potatoes, sliced bananas, and a boiled egg, is a Sunday morning staple. Don’t miss the famous fish sandwich at Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy in Hamilton. For more elegant fare, visit the award-winning Waterlot Inn, a dockside steakhouse in Southampton.
Just a short distance from St. George is the public Tobacco Bay Beach. Visitors will discover a delightful beach, with limestone rock formations, and shallow, crystal blue waters perfect for snorkeling, kayaking, or paddleboarding. The rocks offer a haven for the local marine life, including blue parrotfish, angelfish, sergeant majors, and more. After a day in the sun, head over to the nearby, family-friendly restaurant, or grab a cocktail. Or, attend Tobacco Bay’s Bonfire and Bohemia, a beach party featuring live music every evening during the summer months.
The perfume tradition in St. George’s Parish dates back to 1928. Today, master-perfumer Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone carries on the tradition, creating Bermuda-inspired fragrances. The Bermuda Perfumery is housed in a historic building, Stewart Hall. Visitors can tour the perfumery and learn about the process of creating, bottling, and aging perfumes. Sign up for a workshop, and work with Isabelle to create your own signature scent. Afterward, enjoy a pastry, scone, or cake and traditional tea at Sweet P’s High Tea, also in Stewart Hall.
The calm waters surrounding Bermuda are perfect for sailors and those that love cruising across the ocean. From March through July each year, Bermuda hosts several sailing and yachting events, including the historic Newport Bermuda Race. Visitors can explore the island on one of the many sightseeing cruises available. The sunset cruises are an option for those seeking romantic ambiance. Glass-bottomed catamarans offer unique and thrilling views of marine life, coral reefs, and shipwreck sites. Local sailing companies also offer lessons for those seeking more than just a relaxing boat ride.