Bermuda is a tiny island nation a mere 20 square miles in land mass. You’d think we’d have done everything there is to do in the three trips we’ve made there to visit family, but each time I vow to return because we didn’t get to do such and such. If you have put Bermuda on your Bucket List as we suggested in our post last week, Living in Paradise Bermuda-Style, put these 10 must-do’s on your itinerary.
Experience the Tale of 2 Cities
I’m borrowing the name of the current exhibit at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art (see below) to urge you to visit not only Hamilton, the capital, but St. George’s, the original settlement.
Hamilton was established as the capital of Bermuda in 1815 and is the hub of commerce. It’s situated on the banks of the Hamilton Harbour; all roads and shipping channels lead to Hamilton. The stunning Fairmont Hamilton Princess is home to business and tourist travelers alike.
When in Hamilton, put lunch at the Princess’
1609 Bar and Restaurant
on your itinerary to enjoy the harbor view during the day.
Hamilton is easy to tour on foot. The city was well-planned in a grid, with wide, clean streets
and beautiful buildings everywhere.
Numerous shops (A.S. Cooper, The Island Shop and The Irish Linen Shop) and restaurants dot Front Street, Queen Street and Reid Street. The Hamilton Ferry Terminal is located at the intersection of Front and Queen. The capital city is home to stunning government houses
and office buildings that look like posh hotels.
Wouldn’t you love a window office in one of these buildings?
St. George’s is situated at the northeast end of the island. Settled by Sir George Somers
in 1609 when he was enroute to Virginia to provide relief for the Jamestown colony established 2 years earlier. He deliberately steered his Sea Venture onto a reef seeking refuge from a storm. He and the ships’ survivors established the Bermuda colony before setting out for Jamestown 10 months later. It is said to be the oldest continuously settlement of the New World. Quaint Saint George is what I call it, can you see why?
The Deliverance replica (the ship Somers sailed to Jamestown)
the dunking chair on the square — punishment by dunking culprit into the ocean
St. George’s, being the oldest settlement and first capital of Bermuda, developed somewhat randomly; its streets are very narrow
and is small enough that it doesn’t take long to get your bearings and see the sights.
St. Peter’s Anglican Church is the oldest church in the Western Hemisphere
The unfinished church looks more like a ruin but is actually the unfinished replacement for St. Peter’s.
Be sure to visit The Bermuda Perfumery.
St. George’s is quite laid-back compared to the bustling Hamilton. While I was at tea, LDB enjoyed a brew at the White Horse Pub and watched the boats cruise by in St. George’s Harbour.
When the waves crash at Horseshoe Bay, I’m reminded of the films of yesteryear, when the camera panned away from the embracing lovers to the crashing waves to imply what today’s movies show full-on.
Horseshoe Bay is a public beach, although a section is cordoned off for use by guests at the Fairmont Southampton Princess. Whether you want to lounge on the beach with a picnic or climb the rocks
Horseshoe Bay is one of the most beautiful sites in all of Bermuda.
Hike the Railroad Trail
For 17 years, from 1931 to 1948, Bermuda had a passenger and freight train. No longer in use for rail transportation, (click here for a history of the railroad) the abandoned 22-mile trail makes for a fascinating alternative way to see the island.
Climb Gibbs Lighthouse
For the best view on the island, climb Gibbs Hill Lighthouse.
The lighthouse is located adjacent to the Railroad Trail, so a trail hike to the lighthouse makes a great excursion.
Plan to stay for breakfast (Sundays only), lunch or dinner at the Dining Room for a uniquely Bermudian experience.
Dine at The Waterlot Inn
Possibly the most exquisite restaurant on the island is The Waterlot Inn. We’ve eaten there on each of our trips, and I hope to return again.
A fining dining institution since 1670, the restaurant has water views, impeccable service and a menu and wine list that has something for everyone.
Ride the Ferry — Hamilton to Royal Naval Dockyards
The ferry ride is a treat if you want to see the iconic Bermudian architecture,
and fabulous yachts upclose
but The Royal Naval Dockyards have been developed a tourist stop for the cruise ships. Hop on the ferry in downtown Hamilton at the intersection of Front and Queen streets (round-trip fare on the Blue Route was $4.50). One-way trip is 30 minutes. If you have kids in tow, there is more to do like Putt Putt Golf, Dolphin Quest and glass blowing demonstrations
but don’t budget more than 30 to an hour minutes at the Dockyards before picking up the return ferry to Hamilton if you don’t have to entertain the younger set.
Visit the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art not only curates local artistic works, it seeks to repatriate and preserve art by visiting artists inspired the island’s natural wonders. Many notables, including Homer Winslow,
and John Lennon
left with their work, leaving nothing in Bermuda. Since its inception, Masterworks has collected over 1300 pieces of art by visiting artists from around the world to remain in its permanent collection.
The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ) is at the top of my list to visit on my return trip. Built in 1926 it is one of the world’s oldest aquariums. Adjacent to the aquarium is the Natural History Museum which has exhibits about Bermuda’s geological formation from volcanic activity.
Savor the Splendor
Reflecting on Bermuda’s bounty, I figured out why we haven’t done all there is to do: it’s important to leave time to savor the splendor on the island. I could spend hours bird-watching
admiring the flora
garden at The Bermuda Perfumery
gate leading to Bermuda Botanical Garden
brilliant ponciana tree
or basking on the pink sand beaches.
If you’re feeling active, be sure to build in time to snorkel, sail, golf or play tennis. So that’s why it’s important to plan your trip well. Don’t let this tiny island fool you into thinking there’s not much to it beyond the surf and sand, because after all,
big things come in small packages.
August 6, 2014