Bermuda: An island that's very British and a bit misunderstood
Located at the same latitude as North Carolina, Bermuda seems a bit misunderstood.
FAQs about BermudaIs it really warm?
Yes, for much of the year, the semi-tropical climate beckons many visitors, especially from the Northeast.
Are the beaches really pink?
Is there really a lot of golf?
Do actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones really live there?
Is it really expensive?
Is the Queen really pictured on the money?
Do Bermudian men really wear Bermuda shorts?
Bermuda LivingBut there’s more to Bermuda than sun, sand, sports, celebrities, currency and shorts. First discovered in 1503 by Spanish explorer Juan de Bermudez, the land wasn’t claimed for a century, until English sailors bound for the fledging Virginia colony shipwrecked in 1609. The courtesy, crispness and British accents remain to this day, lending Bermuda a civilized, though still laid-back, air.
In addition to its proximity to the US, and well developed infrastructure, Bermuda, unlike many southerly Caribbean destinations, is affluent. This British territory of approximately 60,000 has a per capita average annual income about 50% higher than in the U.S. You won’t find any of the often off-putting trappings of poorer, developing countries: no feral dogs or cats, no panhandlers, no touts.
Furthermore, the tidy, compact capitol, Hamilton, is immaculate; I actually walked barefoot downtown, something I have never done before in an urban setting. And, when you are ready to head home, you can clear customs in Bermuda, thus eliminating the buzz kill —- and long waits —- of some major city airports.
Visiting BermudaSince visitors are not allowed to rent cars (and locals are allowed but one vehicle per household—and that includes the governor), you’ll see mopeds zipping around the island. I preferred riding the shell pink buses that crisscross Bermuda, allowing me time to admire the handsome, well-maintained pastel-hued homes nestled in the manicured hills.I also enjoyed the ferry to visit St. George’s Parish, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the oldest continually settled British settlement in the new world, or The Royal Naval Dockyard, once the largest naval base in the Western Atlantic, which now houses shops, restaurants and attractions such as the Maritime Museum in a six-acre fort, a snorkel park and the Bermuda Rum Cake Company.
As a temporary address, one of the two Fairmont hotels will suit your style. I loved the historic intimacy of the Princess, named after Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria, its blush façade reigning over the picturesque harbor. The Fairmont Southampton benefits from its high point overlooking both bay and ocean and is near popular Horseshoe Bay beach. There’s also the Willow Stream Spa, which boasts pampering treatments such as a caviar facial and fine dining at the AAA Diamond Newport Room. I sampled such delicacies as twice cooked pork belly, voluptuous lobster gratin, duck breast with seared foie gras, and brie with fig chutney and gombay jam made with hot peppers. Both hotels offer Sunday brunch with traditional dishes like salted codfish and potatoes and cassava pie. A 20-minute ferry connects the city and resort hotels and guests can use the facilities at either property.
And, I discovered, there really is a drink called a Dark n’ Stormy, a highball of Gosling’s Black Seal rum mixed with Barritt’s Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer; it’s Bermuda’s signature libation. I drank mine while watching the sky fill with cottony pink and lavender clouds, a chorus of tree frogs filling the soft evening air. Bermuda is no longer misunderstood, at least by this visitor.
If You Go
A former Navy brat who traveled and lived abroad extensively, Suzanne Wright is a fulltime, freelance writer based in Atlanta. She is a member of NATJA, and has written numerous travel, food and decor features for numerous international, national and regional publications. Her articles have appeared in Elite Traveler, Wine & Spirits, Veranda, Atlanta Magazine, The Tennessean, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, Piedmont Review, Charlotte Place, Where, On Magazine and others. A suitcase is always packed and her passport always up to date.