With a reliable ferry service and fun activities for all the family packed into an accessible 21 square miles, it’s easy to find out why it has attracted adventurers and sparked mystique for centuries. Follow this three-day itinerary to get a taste of life out here. For additional assistance, go to the Island Tour Centre to book activities before you embark.
Morning: You’ve anchored in the Royal Naval Dockyard, a former Royal Navy stronghold rich in maritime history and already it’s not like any other island. The 19th Century barracks that surround the port once kept guard over the west end, but inside Bermuda’s largest fortress, The Keep, you’ll find the National Museum. An award-winning playground and dolphin sanctuary are pulls for the younger members of the family, but head straight to the Hall of History mural. Local artist Graham Foster has chronicled Bermuda’s story over two storeys, showing an awe-inspiring depiction of island life.
Lunch: Explore the area by foot stopping at must-sees, The Arts Centre, Dockyard Clayworks and Dockyard Glass to see local craftsmen at work. But don’t stop there; get a 3-day bus and ferry pass and start planning with a locally-made scoop (or two) of Alex & Pete’s Artisan Ice-Cream in hand. It’s a 10-minute bus ride to lunch at local-favourite Woody’s to enjoy their famed fish sandwich dockside. After washing it down with a cold ginger beer, get back on the bus – look out for the pink stop – to head to even more unmissable South Shore Beaches. There are several stops to choose from: Church Bay is a snorkeller’s paradise thanks to a network of shallow reef close to shore. Horseshoe Bay is one of the world’s most photographed and it’s easy to see why; the wide crescent of soft, pink sand and crystal-clear water makes a great starting point for exploring nearby coves and on-site rental concessions, Rum Bum Beach Bar and changing facilities provide everything you need for a great day at the beach. Further east, Warwick Long Bay, known for having the pinkest sand, stretches for half a mile and is great for swimming. Elbow Beach gets its name from the curve of its shoreline. It has loads of amenities including beachside restaurants and bars. Whichever you choose, it’s impossible to go wrong.
Evening: Hop a bus back to Dockyard with enough time to freshen up in your cabin and grab a bite before booking a Gosling’s Rum Tasting Cruise with Fantasea. It departs Dockyard at 7.30 pm and is not only a way to learn the history of rum on the island – perhaps Bermuda’s best-known export – but a great way to better learn about your surroundings. Captain, crew and Gosling’s ambassadors make for a knowledgeable team that will delight with historical morsels and personal tales of the gorgeous homes you see along the way. At the end you’ll be given the opportunity to purchase the rums duty free.
While one country, the island of Bermuda is actually a long ribbon of land made up of 181 islands that take on the shape of a fish hook. A fine way to see it is from the water and during cruise season the ferry runs from end to end. Take the early boat from Dockyard to St. Georges to spend a day in the former capital and UNESCO world heritage site, a spot that begs for exploration.
Stroll around the Town of St. George and historic Water Street grabbing a coffee at Victoire Café, a modern coffee shop and cycle club in an 18th Century building that takes its brew seriously and serves everything with a fine attention to detail.
Browse local shops such as the handmade Salt Spray Soap Company, local literature and goods at Long Story Short, The Island Shop and the sweet scents of indigenous flora at The Bermuda Perfumery housed in photogenic Stewart Hall.
Grab island-style lunch from Mama Angie’s, a mom-and-pop food stall by Somers Garden and take a stroll through the grounds. Legend has it that the heart of its namesake, the Admiral Sir George, is buried there.
Take a cab or minibus from Kings Square to Fort St. Catherine, an impressive stronghold and museum overlooking Achilles Bay. Settle there or beach it further down the coast at Tobacco Bay. The latter is a laid-back spot, made remarkable with its unique limestone rock formations and coral reef, popular with snorkellers.
The terrace serves frozen cocktails and easy beach snacks to an island soundtrack. It’s an easy place to spend an hour or two. Catch the Orange Route ferry back to Dockyard in time for dinner onboard the ship and venture out again for live music at Bonefish Bar and Grill and then late-night venue Snorkel Park.
With an afternoon departure, there’s plenty of time for a morning excursion. Take the 20-minute Ferry to the City of Hamilton, the island’s business centre and capital.
The loop around Front Street to Queen Street to Reid Street forms the main shopping route for your island souvenirs. Grab a coffee at Rock Island made from beans roasted in-house and freshly baked pastries before browsing the shops: classic Bermuda style at The English Sports Shop, colourful t-shirts at Flying Colours, hand-painted ceramics and glassware at The Island Shop, a pink sand charm from Alexandra Mosher Studio’s flagship boutique.
Find a table on the terrace of Pickled Onion for a quick lunch of Bermuda Fish Chowder served with a dash of black rum and sherry peppers while you look out on Hamilton Harbour. To follow, order the Bermuda Rockfish tacos or the Dockyard Brewing Co. beer-battered fish and chips and wash it all down with the microbrewery’s local beers – the Somers Amber Ale is a favoured English bitter style – or a traditional Dark ‘n Stormy.
Catch the fast ferry back to Dockyard, your final cruise before you return next year.