Exploring Bermuda On Your Own
Bermuda’s Famous Pink Beaches and Unique British Charm
By Tab Hauser
Senior Travel Writer
Bermuda is known for its pink sandy beaches and pretty colored buildings that at times match the colors of the Bermuda shorts and tall socks worn by the locals.
Its ocean waters are clear, clean, and warm in the summer. It also has the most northern coral reef system to view the tropical fish while snorkeling.
Bermuda is a popular British Overseas Territory that sits 643 miles off the coast of North Carolina.
Looking at a map, it is a fish hooked shaped series of connected islands that is 21 miles long and 1.75 miles at its widest area with 110 miles of shoreline.
It takes just under two hours to fly from New York and is a popular cruise destination pre-pandemic.
Options on Getting Around Bermuda
Visitors to Bermuda have a few options to explore the island on their own. The first way is via the reasonably priced bus service. The downside is that you are on its schedule and it can be slow.
The next way would be by taxi, which while efficient, is expensive when you want to see multiple places.
A third option for touring on your own is to rent a gas engine scooter. Renting a scooter for those not experienced in driving them may not be the best idea. New scooter drivers have to deal with busy roads while driving British style or keeping to the left.
During a cruise I took here 15 years ago I witnessed half a dozen passengers boarding with crutches or wheelchairs because of their scooter accidents.
The EV Bermuda Alternative
A better way to get to see Bermuda is by renting a small electric vehicle (EVs). The island has two kinds of EV’s to rent. One is a narrow little car that has the passenger sitting behind the driver called a twizy. I sat in one and did not find it comfortable for the passenger. It also lacked storage space.
We opted to rent from Localmotion Ltd an EV called a Bermi for 24 hours. Bermi’s are small, narrow two-door EV cars made in China.
We chose the Bermi because it allows the driver and passenger to sit side by side with plenty of legroom. The difference between your car and a Bermie is that the driver and passenger sit shoulder to shoulder.
The Bermi has ample space in the hatch area to hold a couple of beach bags. This comes in handy when you want to pull over at one of a dozen beaches for a swim.
It claims to have a range of about 75 miles and will go up to 48 mph.
That power range is more than enough due to the island’s size. There are also charging stations around the island.
While the speed limit in Bermuda is 23 mph, most people go faster and we did get up to 40 MPH on a few stretches to keep up with traffic. The Bermi at the higher speed tended to rattle a bit.
As mentioned above, driving in Bermuda is British style. Many Americans are intimated by this. My advice after years of driving “left” is for you to take two Post-it Notes.
With a sharpie, write “THINK LEFT” and draw an arrow pointing left. Place one Post-It note just under your line of sight and the other in the middle of the windshield.
People who have used this simple piece of advice have thanked me over the years. Bermi information at www.localmotionbda.com
With the paperwork and a briefing on how to use our Bermi finished, we drove to the Crystal and Fantasy Caves on the east side of Bermuda.
Here for $35, you get to visit two different caverns next to each other. Both offer a little different view of what lies below Bermuda.
Crystal Cave has 88 steps that descend to a long floating dock on an underground lake to see the stalactites and stalagmites.
Fantasy Caves also require 88 steps down to an area that has two sections to view the different mineral formations.
This cavern has several rare chandelier clusters seen in only a few caves around the world. If you are pressed for time consider only seeing Crystal Cave.
Do not miss having the fish sandwiches here (more later under food) www.caves.bm
Getting High on the Island
A must-see place in Bermuda is the Gibbs Lighthouse. The Gibbs Lighthouse is one of the oldest cast-iron lighthouses built in 1844 on a hill.
It has 185 steps and is 354 feet above sea level. On top is a beautiful view of all of Bermuda.
Close to the Gibbs Lighthouse you can splash around on Horseshoe Bay and its famed pink sand beach.
Nearby is Elbow Beach as well as Warwick Long Bay where you can take a half-mile walk on the sand or snorkel 100 yards out.
In the evening we drove the Bermi to drive to St. George for dinner. This pretty town is located on the northeast corner of Bermuda. Here you can stroll the old streets and take in some of the shops or dine in their pubs and restaurants.
I recommend visiting the fortifications and the unfinished church.
Royal Navy Dockyard
Another place easy to visit on your own in Bermuda is the Royal Navy Dockyard. This is located in the southwest in what looks like the tip of a fish hook on the map.
Getting there is a very pleasant 15-minute boat ride on the ferry from Hamilton. Taking the boat gives you an overview of how Bermuda is laid out.
On route you get to see mansions, boats, birds, and tiny islands all for a $4.50 one-way ride.
After departing the ferry go to the visitor’s center for a map and make your way to the National Bermuda Museum (https://nmb.bm/ ).
To get to the museum and its 10 acres of the former fort you need to cross the moat bridge. Once past the ticket office stroll up to the top and catch the ocean view by the canons.
From the top and looking 643 miles to the left is North Carolina.
The museum is in the former Commissioner’s home having an impressive view of the sea and harbor. Built in the 1820s, this was the world’s first home using prefabricated cast iron for its framework. All the pieces were labeled and shipped over to Bermuda for re-construction.
Everything that’s Happened
In the museum, you will find three floors of exhibits that capture almost anything that has happened in Bermuda in the last 500 years. Nearby in the Queens Exhibition Hall is a good display of shipwreck history. Allow about 90 minutes when visiting both places for casual observers.
Near the museum, you will find a pub, glassblowing shop, pottery gallery, artist’s gallery and the Clocktower Mall.
(https://www.dockyard.bm) The mall is located in the former Royal Navy warehouse built in 1865.
Here you find a mix of restaurants and shops located within its three-foot thick walls. You can’t miss the place due to its clock towers rising 100 feet high.
From here can take the ferry to St George or back to Hamilton. Busses also leave here for Hamilton with stops at the various beaches.
We picked the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club (A Fairmont Hotel) just a few blocks from downtown Hamilton.
Staying here had the advantages of being near the city and all its dining options. The hotel has two swimming pools with views of the marina. One pool was for adults only. The other was an infinity pool where you can watch the boats in the harbor while floating on the hotel noodles.
Another feature important to us was the Hamilton Princess Beach Club. Guests are shuttled every hour to 90 minutes on a 20-minute ride.
The beach club is located in a shallow, pretty cove. Here you had the use of paddleboards, kayaks, lounge chairs, towels and three hammocks set up over the water.
As it was our anniversary we treated ourselves to the upgraded Fairmont Gold level which gave concierge check-in and use of the Gold room that included soft drinks, water, breakfast, afternoon tea, evening canapes and a light dessert each night. We also splurged on their large two-room suite that had a balcony large enough to host a party for 20! (https://www.thehamiltonprincess.com/)
Our best dinner and value was at Ascots located a 10-minute walk from the Hamilton Princess. Our delicious three-course $65 dinner was in a nice outdoor setting. The service was perfect. (https://ascots.bm/)
Do not miss the best fish sandwich at the Café Ole kiosk by the Crystal Caves. This was recommended by a few locals. After finishing our cave tour we stood in line behind a fireman who was ordering
and told the counter person to just repeat his order for us.
The popular lunch here is fried fish from the morning’s catch placed in a sandwich of toasted raisin bread, melted cheese, coleslaw, tartar and hot sauce.
It was the best $15 we spent on food in Bermuda. The sandwich is large enough to share for average appetites.
Devils Isle Cafe was a good stop for lunch in Hamilton. The sandwiches are large and tasty. Their craft cocktails were made well and tap beer tasted fresh and cold.
After seeing their dinner menu we regretted not being able to return here due to previous plans made.
Wahoos in St George was a good choice for the different styles of fish served. Their smoked BBQ ribs for meat-eaters hit the spot. The place has a nice view of the water.
Bermuda Covid Entry Requirements
To enter Bermuda you need to download your vaccine card and a negative PCR test to their department of health to get clearance to fly.
Their website is very efficient and once you download your round trip flight information everything you need be emailed automatically at the proper time.
After clearing Bermuda customs, all passengers are directed to a PCR test area that just takes a few minutes. During your stay, you will receive emails as to further testing required for staying or departing.
The Bermuda Health Department has its testing down to perfection. For our return test, we arrived 15 minutes before our appointment only to have 40 people in front of us.
We were impressed when they pre-processed people online and got everyone tested in 10 minutes. Between mask mandates and all the testing, we felt Covid save while in Bermuda.