Caribbean: Bermuda, an Overview
Bermuda's more than 150 islands and islets, located 650 miles east of North Carolina, offer honeymooners a gentile tropical getaway that's close to home and a cinch to navigate. (Note that the island's location means that the seasons more or less mirror ours.) Off shore, abundant coral reefs and the numerous shipwrecks have earned this British colony the nickname "Isle of Devils." On shore, verdant Bermuda is blanketed in blooms including freesia, bougainvillea, passion flower, bird of paradise, royal poinciana, frangipani, and more than 150 varieties of hibiscus.
In a Word: Pink
Twenty-six miles of pink beaches encircle this otherwise green island. The coast takes on its powder-pink hue thanks to waves battering and breaking down tiny, calcified pink animals attached to the surrounding coral reef. Homes, buildings, and churches are also painted in every shade of pink imaginable and are topped with white rippled roofs, offering a brilliant contrast to the deep blue sky.
Why We'd Go: 8 Features You'll Never Forget
- Golf: Bermuda has more golf courses per square mile than any other country in the world. Best courses: Mid Ocean Club, Port Royal Golf Course, and Riddells Bay Golf & Country Club. During high season, January to March, reserve a tee-time at select courses up to two months in advance by calling (800) BERMUDA.
- Diving: They don't call it "The Bermuda Triangle" for no reason. A bonanza of more than 400 wrecks awaits divers beneath the cerulean sea near Bermuda. Explore the Cristobal Colon, a 499-foot Spanish luxury liner that sunk in 1936, or dive a stacked wreck!
- Forts: History buffs should check out the more than 50 historic forts and fortresses that once defended Bermuda. If you only visit one, make it the beautifully preserved and fascinating Fort St. Catherine, and located on the northeastern tip of the island near the historic town of St. George. Wander dark interior corridors to see dioramas about Bermuda's history, stumble upon spooky wax figures acting out scenes from "fort life," and trip a few other surprises that we won't reveal! While you're in the neighborhood, don't miss a visit to St. George and the charming St. Peter's Church, believed to be the oldest Anglican church still in use in the western hemisphere. Be sure to read the numerous memorial plaques and visit the small cemetery out back.
- Crafts: Located on the far western end of the island -- a surprisingly easy trip via ferry from Hamilton -- is the lovely Royal Naval Dockyard. Once the largest British naval facility outside the United Kingdom, this collection of buildings now house a shopping mall, craft market, arts center, and restaurants. Watch glass spun into sculpture at Dockyard Glassworks and smell rum-infused banana, chocolate, and coconut cakes baking at Bermuda Rum Cake Company.
- Flipper: The Bermuda Maritime Museum has impressive exhibits and great views, but the best part is the resident Dolphin Quest program, (800) 248-3316. Slip on a wet suit and hop into the dolphins' lagoon to stroke -- and smooch! -- these intelligent and endearing mammals. This special experience is not cheap, but it will be a memory you'll never forget.
- Stalactites: Tour one of Bermuda's 110 underground wonderlands -- the best of which is the 80-foot-deep Crystal Caves. (Clear your senses with a visit to the nearby Bermuda Perfumery and a romantic dinner at the landmark Tom Moore's Tavern, (800) 527-8213, built in 1652 as a private home.) Grotto Bay Beach Hotel also leads "cave crawls" through nearby Prospero's and Cathedral caves.
- Island drinks: From proper afternoon tea to a fruity pink Rum Swizzle or a Dark 'n' Stormy, made from black rum and ginger beer, Bermuda's got the perfect drink to quench your pipes.
- Nightlife: Fortify yourself before you hit Hamilton's bars and clubs with the hearty fare at the dark 'n' cozy Hog Penny Restaurant & Pub, located just off Front Street. When you're ready to cruise the strip, hit Oasis, Rock Room, Flanagan's, or Club 40, where bartenders are known to whip bottles around a la the movie “Cocktail."
Pucker Up: Best Places to Smooch
For a cheap thrill, gaze down on Bermuda's islets from the top of 117-foot Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, and then play footsie while nibbling tea and crumpets at the cozy Lighthouse Tea Room. For a special splurge, cuddle in one of the deep, dark booths of the Newport Room, (441) 238-2555, at the Fairmont Southampton Princess. The old money, nautical ambience, and outstanding food and wine will have you swooning in no time.
When to Go: Bermuda at its Best
- Best weather: May through November. Year-round temperatures range from the mid 60s to 85 degrees. January receives the most rain, though rainfall is fairly consistent throughout the year.
- Best prices: November to March (other than Christmas and New Year's); exact dates vary by hotel. Hurricane season swirls from June to November (September is trickiest).
- Festival highlights: Swingers can enter the annual Couples Golf Tournament in February; Bermuda celebrates its heritage with cultural and sporting events in May, culminating on Bermuda Day on May 24; the two-day Cup Match Cricket Festival and Emancipation Day are celebrated at the beginning of August; the annual Bermuda Jazz Fest grooves each fall.
Photo: Courtesy of Bermuda Department of Tourism