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Exploring the Royal Naval Dockyard

After more than 150 years as the bastion of Royal Naval might in the Western Atlantic, the Royal Naval Dockyard now holds art galleries, shops, museums and a slew of history.

Known as "Dockyard," this lively hub on Bermuda's West End has a long and storied history, plus plenty of things to see and do. It is also team base for the 35th America's Cup presented by Louis Vuitton.

A Colourful Military History

In 1809, when the British were no longer able to use U.S. ports after the American Revolution, they began construction on the Royal Naval Dockyard, also known as "the Gibraltar of the West." Since then, it's seen a sweep of history. During the War of 1812, a British fleet sailed from the Dockyard on its infamous mission to attack and seize Washington, DC and Baltimore. (It's on one of those ships that a prisoner, Francis Scott Key, wrote the Star-Spangled Banner after witnessing the American flag still flying over Baltimore.)

Later, the Dockyard was a strategic base for England in the Atlantic and an active shipyard during the First and Second World Wars. Until it stopped serving the Royal Navy in 1951, its great warships changed over from the tall-masted men-of-war to the diesel-turbine frigates. Munitions changed from shots and cannon balls to torpedos and shells. Today, its fine old stone buildings, wharves and fortifications serve as a hub for shopping, dining and entertainment. And on its grounds, there are multiple tributes to Bermudian history and culture.

The old stone buildings, ramparts and wharves are now a hub for shopping, dining and entertainment.

The National Museum of Bermuda

Get to know the island’s legendary maritime history at the National Museum of Bermuda, which houses cannons, shipwreck artefacts, small watercraft and artwork in buildings of the former Keep Fort. Don't miss the dramatic mural depicting four centuries of Bermuda history by local artist Graham Foster or the outdoor playground, where kids can zip down a lighthouse slide or crawl through a jumbo eel model.

Shops & Craft Markets

Local makers show and sell candles, metalwork, soap and food stuffs at the Bermuda Craft Market. Two working studios also operate in historic buildings here: Dockyard Glassworks features glass-blowing and flame-throwing demos plus colourful vessels, jewellery and Christmas ornaments for sale; the Bermuda Clayworks provides workspace and a shop for locally made pottery and ceramics. Nearby in an impressive 1856 naval warehouse with two towers, the Clocktower Mall offers boutiques stocked with Bermudian jewellery, clothing and accessories.

Water-Themed Attractions

Dolphin Quest

Accessible by ferry from Hamilton and St. George's, the Dockyard also offers good, splashy fun. At Dolphin Quest Bermuda, you can touch or swim with dolphins while learning about marine life conservation. You can watch the lively mammals both in their enclosure within the National Museum of Bermuda or in a large, innovative sanctuary outside the Dockyard walls.

The Spirit of Bermuda is a beautiful, three-masted vessel that calls the Royal Naval Dockyard home. The ship, a detailed replica of a Royal Navy sloop-of-war, is open to the public (when she's not out on the high seas) and tours are offered regularly. 

The Island Tour Centre operates out of the Dockyard, offering an array of adventures for all tastes, including glass-bottom boat cruises, historic walking tours, eco-tourism opportunities and much more. Right now, you can get a look at the America's Cup course by plane or boat. 

With its white sands, shallow waters and equipment rental, Snorkel Park lures families and watersports enthusiasts. You can rent kayaks, pedal boats and jet skis here, or just kick back at the on-site cafe.