This year it was crucial to spend my birthday in tropical weather with island vibes. Getting away for the weekend was necessary for my brain space. Upon scouring the travel corners of the internet, I came across as a direct flight via America Airlines to Bermuda for merely $265.00 RT from JFK New York. Caribbean vibes, blue crystal water, and just 2 hours away to be in tropical weather, no need to say no more, SOLD! All I knew about Bermuda were the Bermuda Triangle stories where ships and people get disappear at seas; so, some research was required before planning the trip. All my trips lead to me researching the location, geographic, cultural, and architectural characteristics. I always fear offending locals by going against their customs for being a foreigner is no excuse for ignorance.
Despite the clear turquoise water and tropical weather, Bermuda is not a Caribbean island, it is a subtropical coral island in the North Atlantic situated atop an extinct volcano. It is surrounded by beautiful ocean water that can be seen from the peak points of the island framed by lush green foliage. The air is a mixture of salt water and floral scents from the oleander trees. The variety of hibiscus is endless, yellow, pink, and red. The island consists of high and low hills with a flat city center, Hamilton. The landscape is magnificently awe-inspiring.
I choose the most affordable means of boarding, a rental property, with Bermuda Rentals which has an inventory of rentals in different neighborhoods on the island. Location near to the beach and price point, two drivers guiding our rental selection. With the help of the leasing agents, we were able to book a two-bedrooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen, and living room unit perched atop of a hill in the neighborhood of Shelly Heights 10 minutes from Shelly Beach. The booking process was seamless, the staff provides you with information on transportation and sites to visit. The initial deposit is 10% of your total balance and the remainder to be paid upon arrival in cash to the rental owner in Bermuda. Please note that the initial deposit is not reimbursable.
As an island girl, I had high expectation of the food. I was salivating a few days before the trip for fresh grilled whole fish. Well, I left Bermuda with my craving unfulfilled. The various eateries we visited did not offer much original Bermudian dishes. The availability of entire cooked fish was scarce due to their strict fishing laws. On Sunday morning, we tasted one of their staple breakfast, codfish, and potato. Let’s just say I was not impressed. The best meals we had during our stay were at the following restaurants:
While you’re there, treat yourself to brunch at Marcus’, as in Marcus Samuelsson, the very famous Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef. On the menu? Fried chicken and waffles, fish cakes, bread pudding French toast (yes), smoked salmon, deviled eggs, jerk pork at a carving station, you get the idea. Go hungry.
Dinner at Marcus’ as in Marcus Samuelsson, the famous Ethiopian-born Swedish-raise located at the Hamilton Princess Hotel was succulent. We selected from the menu the tuna tartare (Menu name: Off the Dock TARTARE), cornbread (Menu name: Marcus’ CORNBREAD), veggie burger (Menu name: The BEYOND Burger), beef ribs (Menu name: RIBS are Touchin‘) and mac n’ cheese. Yes, we are foodies! We love to eat!
Rustico Restaurant & Pizzeria
Dinner at Rustico Restaurant & Pizzeria is an Italian restaurant located in Flatts Village. The best dishes among what we selected were the beef carpaccio, the eggplant parmesan, and the seafood salad. The staff is friendly, responsive and lively. They were great in getting us a cab.
Rhum Swizzle and Dark N’ Storm are the signature drinks of the island, sweet rum drinks that will knock you out. All the bars on the island will serve them up, some with a slight twist. I never passed the chance to have a few. The drink prices vary between $15.00 to $18.00. Be careful drinking these at the beach between the sun and the waves you are in for an experience. Book your trip to Bermuda to find out more.
The was the first country I have visited with no car rental services, only scooters. It is said you can scoot from one point to another in less than an hour, to be proven. We use public transportation as our primary means of transportation, buses, and taxis. A 2-day bus passes are available for purchase at the post office or the central bus terminal in Hamilton offering unlimited rides for all the bus routes; otherwise, the single trip will cost you $5.00. The bus stops are identified by colored poles, pink poles for rides inbound to Hamilton, and blue pole for rides outbound of Hamilton. The bus system was smooth and efficient.
The taxi drivers were our tour guides sharing the history of the island while showing us different neighborhoods of the island. The taxi fares are quite expensive, as everything on the island. The base fare starts at $6 to $7 for the first mile and an add-on fee pr additional miles. Most of the taxis are minivans that can accommodate a group of 5 to 7 people. The buses are scarce during the evening, and I believe stop running at a certain time at night. We did not find out for we took taxis every to get around; but so worth it. There are taxis stations around downtown Hamilton, and most restaurants will assist in calling you a taxi.
We took the ferry from downtown Hamilton to the Royal Dockyards to see the island from a different perspective. It is a two-level boat with a cool indoor at the first level and an open second level. It was a smooth sail and, on our return, offered us a beautiful view of the sunset and of the mansions along the bay.
Although Bermuda is only 21 square miles, there is a lot to explore. The country is divided into nine geographical parishes with their unique feel and vibe. We explored the city center of Saint George where the smaller cruise ships dock. Therefore, there are a lot of souvenir stores and tourists adjacent to the port. A cozy and quaint neighborhood with colorful buildings and narrow streets.
The St. Peter’s church was on our list of few places to visit in Saint George. The church sits atop of a low hill with a grand staircase leading to its wooden door entrance. The church is surrounded by a cemetery that once segregated where the West was reserved for slaves and East for all others with a dedicated side entrance to each section of the cemetery. The interior was just beautiful with exposed cedar beams and white walls. Two perched small balconies are seen within with separate access where the slaves were allowed to sit during masses. I am always baffled by how racism and segregation are ingrained in the history of religion. Nevertheless, I would state they had the best seats in the church overviewing the entire lower level.
The Crystal Caves are located in Hamilton Parish not too far from where we were staying. Both Crystal and Fantasy caves are located on the same private property. The caves are by far the most beautiful subterranean caves I have visited. They offer 30 minutes or less guided tour for each cave where a narrative of the history of the caves is shared. Both showcases dramatic formations of stalactites and stalagmites which are crystal-like pointed structures naturally formed out of limestone rocks. It is a must visit in Bermuda.
The beaches are everywhere on the island. The island is surrounded by clear blue water. I believe that the blue color of the water is unique to the island. The beaches vary in sizes from small neighborhood beaches for the locals and the tourist trap beaches. We visited two of the beaches on the island, Elbow beach and Snorkel Park Beach.
Small beach located within the distance of the Royal Dockyard and just a few minutes from the cruise ships docks. We visited the beach on Saturday evening where most of the guests were cruise ship passengers. It had excellent facilities with chairs, paddle boards, snorkeling goggles, jet skis rental. There is no entrance fee. Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to experience the live music entertainment offered by the bar most evenings.
The crystal-clear water and pick sand at this beach are breath taken. Upon arrival, we just stood for a few minutes to embrace the beauty of it all. The beach is a long stretch divided into three sections: two for the Coco Reef Hotel and Elbow Beach Resort, and one for the public. We stayed on the Elbow Beach Resort section where we rented two beach chairs and umbrellas for $50.00. Let’s just say, EXPENSIVE, but so worth it! The water is translucent and chilly, unlike the Caribbean water.
There are so much more sites remaining for me to discover in Bermuda. I am looking forward to my next getaway weekend to the island with friends for further exploration. Go to Bermuda offers great Bermuda experience guides and information regarding the island. I hope this post will inspire you to book a trip and explore the beautiful island of Bermuda.