OUR FAV TO DO
Beaches: Bermuda has several beaches all around the island. In my opinion, the best stretch of beaches is on the South side from East Whale Bay to Astwood Cove. This area covers about seven beaches each offering something unique such as pink sands, perfect snorkeling coves, amazing swimming and cliff views. Pick one end to start at and arrive right before sunrise, spend the morning hiking from one end to the other. Stop along the way and climb the cliffs and rocks. The little coves and high views all along the shore are amazing. If you don’t want to walk the shoreline and rocks, there are hiking trails next to the beaches that provide breathtaking views as well. My favorite was Jobson’s Cove. The water was calm, perfect for snorkeling and the high rocks protecting the cove were great for climbing and exploring.
Best Views: In downtown Hamilton on Church Street off of Cedar Ave. The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity contains a wonderful 159 step tower. The spiral climb to the top costs $3. There are two areas to rest between the 1st and 159th step. At the top, you can see all of Hamilton, Fort Hamilton, the Royal Navy Dockyards and the Gibbs’ Hill Lighthouse. During the busy season, keep in mind the tower steps are very narrow and it can be crowded and busy. We were there in February and were the only ones in the entire church – loved it.
Gibbs’ Hill Lighthouse is located on Lighthouse Rd in the Southampton Parish. The lighthouse is closed due to construction until March 2014, but the view on the hill is still breathtaking. Be sure to save time to eat at the Dining Room connected to the lighthouse. Quite possibly the best restaurant on the island. The party next to us were locals who not only ordered a meal each to eat while there but each ordered two meals to go because they loved the food so much.
Free Tours: Check with your hotel or the visitor’s bureau for a list of the free tours around the island. There are several tours offered daily throughout the island; you just need to provide your own transportation.
We didn’t have a bad meal in Bermuda. Every meal we had was mouth watering delish! My favorite restaurant hands down were the Dining Room at the Gibbs’ Lighthouse in Southampton. If I could get past the cole slaw, I would love to tell you about my eye rolling, OMG, no way chocolate torte birthday cake, but back to the cole slaw…it was Amazing. It was made with lettuce instead of cabbage (I love cabbage over lettuce anytime, except this time) and smothered with a savory, sweet, creamy sauce. I am telling you; I am dreaming about this cole slaw. Go there and ask for Manandar, he was an excellent waiter!
Then there is Jasmine’s located inside the Fairmont Southampton. Expensive, but I have to say pretty darn close to worth the price. Get the Trio of Dips. A superb garlic hummus, artichoke dip, and melted cheese queso served with pita bread, potato chips, and a crunchy flatbread. The sliders and the pizza weren’t too bad either. Ask for Tinashe he was delightful.
If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, try Cafe Cairo in Hamilton. The food is a mix of Moroccan and Egyptian and splendid. It also turns into a nightclub with a DJ around 10 pm.
Two of the famous dishes in Bermuda are Fish Chowder and Cod Fish. I am not a huge fish fan, so I wasn’t able to bring myself to try the codfish. However, I did try the fish chowder at St. George’s Wahoo’s Waterside Bistro. Read about that adventure here.
Taxi Service Taking a taxi is expensive. It is just the way it is on the island. The speed limit is about 20 miles per hour, so it takes a bit of time to get from point A to point B. Be patient and enjoy the view. I enjoyed our ride from the airport to the hotel. Our driver, Michael Levon with Levon Transportation, was full of information, recommendations and gave us some great maps to reference for our trip.
Bus The Bermuda bus system is fantastic. It’s cheap and easy to use. Blue poles represent buses going out of Hamilton. Pink poles represent buses moving into Hamilton. Buses run on a routine 15-minute schedule. It is impressive how quiet, and polite the bus drivers, and local (with the emphasis on local) riders are on the bus. Pleasantly different than any bus experience I have had anywhere in the world. The printed bus schedule does not have all the bus times listed, check out their website for all times.
[Matt – You should note that the bus drivers will not make change if you pay your fare while boarding, so if you only have a $5, that is what you will pay. You can buy bus passes that are good for three days or a week at the Hamilton bus depot or the ferry terminal.]
Scooters If the weather is warm and your trip consists of at least three full days or more, renting a scooter as your transportation is a great way to get around the island. There are a few different rental places across the island. Find one that is close to where you are going to be staying. As an activity renting a scooter for the day to tool around the island is fun – remember Bermuda drives on the left side of the road.
Car Rental You can not rent a car in Bermuda, so don’t waste your time. Car rentals are reserved for citizens and permanent residents only.
We stayed at the Fairmont Southampton located in Southampton. It is the largest resort on the island. We went in winter, so we paid less than half of the regular room prices. I am not a fan of big resorts. I think they are too secluded and don’t allow for guests to experience the local culture. If you like resorts, like being secluded and pampered than yes, either of the Fairmonts (the other is the Hamilton Princess) are for you. In this day and age, I believe all hotels should offer free Wifi, especially large resorts such as the Fairmont. Instead, you can apply for 24 hours free, but the rest of the time fork over $13.95 per day – Ummm, No Thanks!
I could not locate any hostels on the island, but if you check airbnb.com, you may be able to find a room for under $100. Otherwise, there are a lot of lodging options on the island from big fancy resorts to bed n’ breakfast to smaller guest apartments. We even saw camping sites next to the Southside beaches that looked cool. Options are out there; you just may need to search for a deal.
Language – English
Bermuda is distinctly British, and manners will get you a long way. Also, it is frowned upon to wear your beach gear anywhere other than the beach. Bermuda is located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean, so it will not be as hot as other islands in the region. The high season stretches from April to October, with the shoulder seasons (Spring – April/May & Fall – Sep/Oct) being the most beautiful times to be on the island. Bermuda uses the same plug and voltage as the U.S., so any device that will work there will also work in Bermuda. If you plan on flying to Bermuda you need only check one airport L.F. Wade International (BDA).
The Bermuda Dollar and the U.S. Dollar are in sync, i.e. 1:1. So you can feel at ease about bringing and/or using only U.S. currency. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t be charged a Foreign Transaction Fee if you withdraw money from an ATM or use a Credit Card for purchases. There could also be an ATM fee for using a machine in another country, depending on your bank. I would advise checking before you go as you may have a card that waives these fees but hadn’t intended on bringing it. If you are in the market for a card I highly recommend the “Investor Checking Account” with Schwab. The account has no foreign conversion/transaction fees, refunds all ATM charges and has a Visa debit card with chip and pin.
In Bermuda, it is customary to give a tip of 10% for services such as taxis or baristas. Restaurants usually add a 17% service fee to their bill, if not that is the excepted base amount for a tip.
Recommendable: YES! If you go in the spring or summer, look into the camping sites available along the South beaches. It isn’t cheap, but you can find less expensive places to eat and stay. Check grocery stores and food stands for more affordable options on fruits, vegetables, water, and snacks for your everyday consumption.