Bermuda May 2012
Getting There: Amazingly enough, Bermuda is only a two-hour flight from Halifax, Toronto or New York. I flew with Air Canada since they great seat sales, if you catch them at the right time a flight from Ottawa (connection in Toronto) can be as low as 360$ Cdn return.
Getting Around: The bus system is good, and there are plenty of ferries to bring you to the far points of the island. Each time I visit however, I prefer to go the popular route and rent a scooter. You can either get a single or double (double is easier if you’re traveling with someone). My favourite place to rent from is Smatt’s (located beside the Fairmont Princess in Hamilton, or Tucker’s Point Resort). The roads are narrow (watch out the those buses!) and full of round-abouts, but somewhat easy to navigate with there’s three main roads (Northshore, Middle and South Rd). Funny enough, I still managed to get turned around. Don’t worry, the rental scooters have a different colour license plate (so everyone knows you’re a tourist) and Bermudians are super helpful when it comes to helping you find your way.
Accommodations: Honestly I stay with family every time I visit so I can’t really comment of which accommodations are best.
Food: Can be pricey if you’re not careful. It’s a small island after all and most everything is imported. The best seafood chowder can be found at The Pickled Onion. Savor deliciously fresh local sea fare (rockfish and are the best!) at the Hog and Penny. Health nuts can grab a smoothie at the popular Juice ‘N Bean. Certainly drinks, like ordering a “dark and stormy” (Bermuda’s own Gosling’s rum and ginger beer) and a rum swizzle are musts. The saying goes “swizzle inn, swagger out” so be prepared for it to be stronger than you imagined.
Fitness: Stick to the beach. You’ll see a good number of people running/walking/cycling along the roads (there’s a lack of walkways) but I don’t recommend it.
Temperature: The weather remains almost the same at night as it is during the day. A light sweater is great for when you’re driving the scooter and an umbrella for the odd rainy days (and it give you a shady break at the beach).
Money: Everything is in the US dollar, with every credit card accepted.
Shopping: Hamilton (the capital) has a good number of shops, along with St-Georges and the Dockyards (very touristy). Purchased that are unique to Bermuda are Horton’s rum cakes, Lili Bermuda perfume and Gosling’s rum.
- Reef and Wreck Diving: There are plenty of dive centers on the island. My personal preference is Terry at Tucker’s Point Dive and Watersports Centre. They’re friendly, experienced, knowledgeable and fun! They take out small groups of divers, and you never feel rushed (a bonus for an inexperienced diver like myself!). Safety and fun are paramount, and it’s all about making it the best experience for the diver.
- Beaches: Horseshoe Bay is popular, but I stuck to Elbow Beach. It wasn’t overcrowded and the beach was beautiful. Tobacco Bay in St-Georges is the perfect place to swim and snorkel. They have snorkel rentals, restaurant, lounge chairs (rental), and washrooms on site.
- Caves: Crystal Caves is geared towards tourists. I’ve never been, and apparently there are lesser-known caves on the island that are just as great to explore but I never did find them!
- Dolphin: Dolphin Quest is located at the Royal Navy Dockyard (West point of the island).
- Forts: The old British forts are located on the west end (Royal Navy Dockyard) and east end (Martello Tower, Gates Fort and Fort St-Catherine). The Dockyards are the most extensive with great displays.
- Banyan Trees: Heading west on South Rd, just past Paget Parish there’s and overgrown entrance into “Southvale”. I’m actually not certain if this is public or private property. It is however a magically and wonderful display of banyan trees.