Once a destination for the ‘newlyweds and nearly deads’, Bermuda is back on the map. Britain’s oldest colony celebrated its 400th anniversary last year and the party hasn’t stopped. CD Traveller got the low-down on the paradise island – that contrary to public opinion isn’t in the Caribbean – from local resident Victoria Clipper
Name: Victoria Clipper
Occupation: Reinsurance Broker by day, bar tender by night.
Are you a local girl?
Yes, my father’s family can trace their Bermuda history back at least 200 years.
What’s it like to live in Bermuda?
Fantastic! There’s a great atmosphere in the summer season (which we call ‘beach and sizzle’). Winter is quieter but there’s still plenty to do – we call winter ‘golf and spa’ season.
What is your favourite thing about Bermuda?
Being able to go to the beach after work!
Why should we visit Bermuda?
Just six and a half hour flight from London, Bermuda is a beautiful island that offers the right balance between rest, relaxation and activity. Activities include every water sport under the sun, golf (Bermuda has more golf courses per square mile than anywhere in the world), museums and art galleries, shopping and of course the beaches.
How long do we need?
At least one week to ensure that you have time to hit the beach and sightsee.
How can tell you locals from tourists?
Visitors cannot hire cars on the island so most choose to get about on a rental moped. Locals journey around the island by moped too but you can always tell who the tourists are: they drive very slowly and most American tourists aren’t used to driving on the left!
The Royal Naval Dockyard, the Maritime Museum, Crystal Caves and Horseshoe Bay Beach.
Head to Sea Breeze at Elbow Beach for tasty Tapas and a great cocktail hour patio atmosphere. Mickey’s (also at Elbow Beach) is one of the best spots to watch the Full Moon rise out of the sea. For the best fresh, local seafood try Lobster Pot, Harbourfront or Barracuda Grill – note that Lobster Season runs from September through till March.
Try the Island Shop for beautiful hand painted chinaware, Clocktower Mall in Dockyard for local souvenirs, Makin’ Waves for surfing gear and A. S. Coopers (the island’s number one department store) for everything else.
Where should we stay?
There are plenty of large luxurious resorts along the South Shore (home to Bermuda’s best beaches) including Elbow Beach, Fairmont Southampton Princess and The Reefs Hotel. There are also more secluded guest houses and cottage colonies scattered around the island if you’re looking for a more intimate and authentic Bermuda vacation.
Any insider tips for our readers?
Do a reef or wreck dive – Bermuda is considered the shipwreck diving capital of the Atlantic. Popular wrecks include the Constellation (1943, featured in the movie The Deep), Hermes (1983), Iristo (1937) and Minnie Breslauer (1872).
Back on dry land, wander through the quaint side streets in St. George’s, a World Heritage Site, and past St Peters Church – believed to be the oldest continually used Anglican church in the Western hemisphere. Head out to Dockyard in the west end to learn about Bermuda’s history at the Maritime Museum and Commissioners House before climbing to the top of the cathedral tower in Hamilton – the capital of Bermuda. It’s in Hamilton that you can wave at Johnny Barnes! Barnes is a Bermudiana native who, come rain or shine, waves to passing traffic at the Foot of the Lane roundabout from 4am to 10am every weekday morning! Regarded as a Bermudian institution, he is known to say “I love you, I love you,” to passing commuters.
Finally be sure to beach it! Bermuda beaches are truly beautiful, many of them tinged with subtle pink sand. The greatest concentration of beaches are found in South Shore Park; a coastal park that stretches for 1.5 miles from Warwick Long Bay to Horseshoe Bay. Pack plenty of sunscreen and water as most of Bermuda’s beaches don’t have concession stands – Horseshoe Bay has the most facilities and amenities but can become extremely crowded on a gorgeous summers day.
Anything else you want to add?
Although Bermuda’s latitude is similar to that of Savannah, Georgia, it is warmer in winter, and slightly cooler in summer. Its humid subtropical climate is warmed by the nearby Gulf Stream, thanks to the westerlies, which carry warm, humid air eastwards over Bermuda, helping to keep winter temperatures above freezing. The climate is humid and, as a result, the summertime heat index can be high, even though mid-August temperatures rarely exceed 30 °C (86 °F). Winters are mild, with average daytime temperatures in January and February around 20 °C (68 °F), although cold fronts, which dominate the local weather for most of the year, bring Arctic air masses that can result in rapid temperature drops. Atlantic winter storms, often associated with these cold fronts, can produce powerful, gusting winds and heavy rain.