By Rosalind Cummings-Yeates
Famous for blush-colored beaches and colorful signature shorts, Bermuda combines a genteel atmosphere with a staggeringly lovely landscape. Filled with high-end resorts, historic landmarks and water sports galore, Bermuda satisfies every kind of traveler. As a British overseas territory located in the Atlantic Ocean and not the Caribbean, this 21-mile-long island packs a lot of surprises in a small area.
North American Milestone
Step into the cobblestone streets of St. George, Bermuda’s first capital. It was founded in 1612 and is the oldest continually inhabited English settlement in the New World. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the town overflows with limestone cottages, picturesque alleyways with names like Shinbone Alley and Petticoat Lane. For panoramic views, climb up to Fort St. Catherine, which rises above pink sand beaches. While you’re on the east end of the island, don’t miss the Crystal Caves. Head underground and stroll across pathways on floating pontoons to glimpse underground pools and glistening stalactites as well as other crystal formations.
This island is covered with pretty beaches. However, dipping your toes into the quintessential Bermuda beach at Horseshoe Bay, a stretch of pristine rosy sand framed by turquoise waves and scenic cliffs, is a must. If you’re interested in more action-packed excursions, kiteboarding at Horsehoe Bay Beach or Elbow Beach is an option from December through May. For a memorable mix of beach and forest, check out Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve on the island’s southeastern tip. The 12-acre reserve offers walking trails through a salt marsh and a forest of ancient Bermuda cedar trees as well as the secluded beaches of Clearwater and Turtle Bay. Snorkeling, turtle spotting and seabird watching are a few of the beach activities on Cooper’s Island. For divers, Bermuda is home to more shipwrecks per square mile than any place in the world. Float down from the island’s south shore and glimpse a few of the island’s 300 -odd wrecks, including a 225-foot side paddlewheel steamer that sank in 1864, the Mary Celestia. North of the island, you’ll find the Constellation, a 192-foot American schooner that sank during World War II.
The Brit Buzz
Bermuda’s British heritage is displayed all over the island, from the crimson phone booths lined up in the dockyard to the classic Bermuda shorts worn by locals, which originated from British military uniforms for warm climates. For a real taste of the culture, try an afternoon tea service. The Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, a luxury property overlooking Hamilton Harbor. It boasts Bermuda’s only celebrity chef restaurant, Marcus by Marcus Samuelsson, and serves up a truly royal experience at the Crown & Anchor restaurant. The tea service offers fresh sandwiches and pastries inspired by British royals and three-foot-high silver trays supplying pots of English tea in signature china. There’s even a kids’ menu with peanut butter sandwiches.
For a Bermudan take on tea, visit Rosewood Bermuda, an opulent and sprawling hotel with English manor decor. The sandwich selection includes local beetroot and goat cheese and the sweets feature strawberry tarts, passion fruit meringue pies and Bermuda loquat jam for the fresh scones. There are also cricket matches to enjoy from May through September and leisurely bike rides around the candy-colored buildings of the capital Hamilton (on the left side of the road), since the island does not allow visitors to rent conventional cars.