Bermuda is a British colony in the North Atlantic, an archipelago of islands boasting a balmy all-year-round climate. Its famous pink sand beaches and old-world charm, glammed up with five-star American-style resorts, golf courses and spas, has made it an attractive high-end destination. Bermuda is surrounded by a coral reef, and its rich marine habitat, numerous shipwrecks and a network of caves make it one of the world’s best spots for diving and snorkelling.
The island has also long been a celebrity favourite: Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have a home there, the Clintons and Beyoncé have been spotted on vacation, Mark Twain called it heavenly and John Lennon decamped to Bermuda to write Double Fantasy. You’ll find it safe, welcoming and laidback, discreetly affluent with a hint of English eccentricity. And the fresh fish, seafood and signature rum cocktails are out of this world.
Relax on those pink sand beaches by all means but make time for activities because the watersports – on the calm, warm azure sea – are unbeatable. Try parasailing, waterskiing and paddle-boarding, especially from the beaches of Southampton Parish.
There’s also fabulous hiking and horse-riding (try Spicelands Equestrian Centre in Warwick for dawn and sunset beach rides). Seek out beautiful St Catherine’s Beach on the north-eastern tip. Hidden in a coral-ringed cove, it’s so quiet you can spend hours there without seeing another soul.
The five-star resorts are world-class. Try the pink-hued Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Elbow Beach, which has an oceanfront spa, or Tucker’s Point, with its croquet lawn and infinity pools.
Want something quirkier? Cottage Colonies are a Bermudan tradition: small resorts with clubhouses, pools, private beaches and cottages in landscaped grounds. They have kitchenettes and housekeeping service, where a maid prepares breakfast for you, setting out flowers and daily papers before you get up. Some offer spa facilities and evening entertainment, with live music, outdoor movie screenings and dancing. Cottage Colonies worth a try include Cambridge Beaches, The Fourways Inn and The St George’s Club.
Food is excellent on the island and you can expect lots of fresh fish and seafood. Dine with your feet in the sand at the many beach bars, cafés and restaurants: grab a wahoo fish sandwich at The Beach House at Blackbeard’s (off the beaten track in a secluded cove but worth it) or posh it up at Café Lido at Elbow Beach, which has one of the best sea views anywhere on the island.
Car hire is not allowed but mopeds and bicycles can be rented, taxis are plentiful and the public transport system is easy and super-efficient (you’ll appreciate the fierce aircon on the buses and ferries).
Bermuda is blessed with almost year-round sunshine but April, May, October and November are the best months, with temperatures in the mid to high twenties and almost zero chance of rain.
Watch out for Portuguese Men o’ War. These nasty jellyfish get cleared from the resort beaches but not the public ones, so beware. One more thing: most groceries are imported so there high prices in the supermarket on everything from toothpaste to apples.
Take time to wander. Bermuda is home to gorgeous architecture including white-washed colonial buildings, pastel-painted cottages and crumbling forts. Tropical hibiscus blooms everywhere in vibrant red, pink and yellow.
The capital, Hamilton, is worth a visit for a look around the historic settlement of St George, Britain’s oldest surviving town in the New World, now a World Heritage site. There’s also a cathedral and a cenotaph. And did we mention the shopping? The boutiques and galleries are utterly charming.
Clear a day for the Royal Naval Dockyard in the West End: swim with dolphins, see the maritime museum, dine al fresco and shop in the craft market selling art, pottery and handmade jewellery by Bermudan artisans.
Once the only way to get around, horse-drawn carriages are a romantic way to tour the island by night. Trips take about 30 minutes: hop on at Front Street in Hamilton.
Kids will love the watersports and caves and Ferry Reach Park offers plenty of exploring with old forts, woodland, nature trails, a lake and a shallow bay that’s great for snorkelling.