Bermuda: Beaches, Boats & Bikes
Five days in paradise
For no particular reason, I was terrified of Bermuda as a child. I heard stories about the dreaded "Bermuda Triangle" and thought it was a dreary, deserted, deathtrap of an island to avoid at all costs. Clearly I was wrong.
I recently had the pleasure of exploring the small British territory during a particularly exciting time: the Tall Ships Race, which began in the UK and stopped in Bermuda before heading on to Boston and Montreal). If dozens of tall ships weren't enough, the island was simultaneously hosting the America's Cup, a sailing competition dating back to 1851. The "competition for the oldest trophy in international sport", America's Cup brought floods of tourists, luxury yachts full of millionaire spectators flown in for the weekend, and hundreds of sailors and boat crew, many of whom I met while biking, jumping off cliffs, and relaxing at beaches.
With over 300 ship wrecks, mostly due to ships crashing into the hidden coral reefs that surround much of the island, Bermuda is known as the wreck capital of the world. This underwater diving paradise allows divers to explore a sunken settler ship from 1609, a US slave shipand French warship from the 1830s, a Civil War ships from the 1860s, and a modern smuggling/pirate ship from the 1990s. Though Bermuda is known for wreck diving, I opted for a couple reef dives, as I prefer to see coral, fish, and caves. I believe I made the right decision though I will definitely bring some motion sickness pills as I nearly threw up on the boat ride to the dive sites.
About 20 square miles, Bermuda is the perfect bike destination. Most locals get around by motorbike, which they simply refer to as a "bike" ("moped" in much of the US). Though I agree it's a great way to get around the island, I opted for a bicycle, which I road 20-30 miles per day. Initially scared by the very narrow streets and sharp curves hidden by thick foliage, I found drivers to be exceedingly courteous and felt very safe riding all over the island. Commuting by bike allowed me to easily stop and visit dozens of beaches, swimming holes, and hidden coves around the island and several museums even let me bring my bike inside with me. I must say that riding in Bermuda is for no beginner, as the island is extremely hilly. Most of my rides clocked in between 1500-2500 feet of elevation (for comparison, most rides in NYC of the same distance are around 200-500 feet), and I found myself walking the bike up impossibly steep hills at least once per day.
My days were spent swimming in small coves most tourists don't know about, jumping off cliffs (Admiralty Park was my favorite!) and visiting museums like the Royal Naval Dockyard, a massive complex and museum housed in the former naval base. I spent most evenings in Smith's parish (neighborhood/borough), watching groups of stingray swim under the bridge as the tide changed.
There was no way I was going to leave the island without visiting the world-famous pink sand Horseshoe Bay Beach, consistently voted to be one of the world's "best beaches". Friendly staff stashed my bicycle in the employee locker room so that I could relax care-free and wander between and around nearby beaches. America's Cup drew tourists away to the boat races but the hundreds of tourists swarming the beach were still too much for me. Apparently, I was there on a slow day and learned that crowds can reach up to 8,000 people/day during the peak months of July and August. Note to self: Never go to Bermuda in the summer.
Paradise doesn't come cheap, however. Most hotels run $300-400/night and standard AirBnBs cost at least $200/night. Motor bike rentals will run you about $100/day though you can get around much cheaper on the country's thorough (though sometimes infrequent) bus and ferry system. I met quite a few tourists who wisely packed snacks in their luggage to avoid dining in restaurants every night, most of which are fairly expensive.
Regardless of your budget, I'm happy to help you plan your trip to Bermuda where you'll enjoy an authentic Bermudian experience, seeing both the top sites and also enjoying non-touristy, "locals only" locations.