My friends and I have this New Year tradition where we jet off to someplace warm after Christmas, bring in the New Year together, and then get back to routine. Come September/October, talk starts again as to where we are headed that year. Over the last few years we have been to Miami, Key West, Mexico, Honduras, and this year we landed on Bermuda.
I can’t say I knew anything about Bermuda before we booked our tickets. First off, Bermuda is NOT in the Caribbean. It is off the coast of North Carolina. What does that mean for December? Basically, it is not expected to be very warm! So much so, that Dec is considered “low season” in Bermuda!
Anyway, our tickets were booked and off we went. As luck had it, since it was unseasonably warm on the East Coast of the US, Bermuda was fairly warm too. Temperatures in the 70’s and a bright sun made for perfect days! Water temperature was probably a bit lower, but we got used to it after the initial chill. We spent 4 days on the beautiful island and had a fantastic time. Here's what you need to know about where to go, what to to, and and some additional tips.
First things first, Beaches!
1. Horseshoe Bay Beach – This is easily one of the most popular beaches in Bermuda. Set in the South shore, the beach is curved like a horseshoe with some great rock formations. The sand is soft and pink, the water is blue, and the afternoon is perfect! A fun thing to do is also climb up the rocky cliff to get a panoramic view of the beach and the water. There are also plenty of inlets and caves, which make for a fun walk…and Instagram pictures J
Note: Most beaches have restrooms and changing rooms, and during the busy season have snack bars, lifeguards and chairs/umbrellas to rent. None of this was open in December, but we took our own food, drink, and beach towels to lie on.
2. Warwick Long Bay Beach – This was my favorite beach. Long and sandy, with lots of little coves to go exploring in. Apparently in low season, no one is here, so we had the cove all to ourselves. You can even walk to Horseshoe Bay beach from here, there is a path that goes along the beach, up the cliffs, and then back down to the bay. No food or rental here anytime – bring your own stuff.
3. Elbow Beach– Another popular beach on the South shore with a long stretch of sand and clear blue water. This part of the shore does have a few resorts, but the public beach is great too. Good spot to swim/wade and walk around to enjoy the rock formations.
4. Tobacco Bay Beach– I did not get around to going here, but Tobacco Bay is said to be a beautiful protected beach with good snorkeling and a snack bar. You can walk here from St.George – go early or later in the day to avoid crowds. Look out for the pool table that is smack dab in the middle of the beach ;)
5. Church Bay Beach – This is a good snorkeling beach, as you can swim out right from the shore and there are lots of colorful fish to see. The day we went, it was extremely windy, so this was not possible. If the water is rough, do not bother, you will get beat up on the rocks, but would be fabulous on a calm day. Plus, there were signs warning of "Porutgese Man O War" which are apparently super painful/poisonous jellyfish, so definitely watch out.
I HIGHLY recommend an off-season visit if you want to avoid crowds. Maybe not as late as December, but after the summer rush.
Eat and Drink
1. Rum Swizzle at the Swizzle Inn – This is one of Bermuda’s most famous pubs with 2 locations on the island. The original is responsible for coming up with the “Rum Swizzle”, a signature drink made with rum and fruit juice. They are served in mini martini glasses and although seem harmless initially, are quite potent! Good pub fare here to soak it all up! Definitely a must stop when in Bermuda.
2. Fish Chowder – Fish chowder is Bermuda’s national dish. A Bermudian bouillabaisse of sorts, the dish uses fresh fish, vegetables and is seasoned with black rum (traditionally Gosling’s black seal rum!) and sherry pepper sauce (traditionally Outerbridge’s sauce). Apparently, the recipe for fish chowder was invented in the 17th century by British colonizers. It is ubiquitously found pretty much everywhere on the island, so make sure you try it! Go easy on the rum addition – you really need very little! I had my first fish chowder at Henry the VIIII, and it was pretty damn good!
3. Dark n Stormy - More rum here! A cocktail made with dark rum and ginger beer, this is also typically Bermudian. And yes, traditionally has to be Gosling's as well. The best advice I got from a Bermudian - Sip. It. Slowly.
Non-beach things to do
1. Town of St. George –The historic town of St.George is steeped in history and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The narrow lanes with colorful pastel buildings are perfect to walk around in. See if you can spot “Aunt Peggy’s Lane” (Aunt Peggy was slave who lived in St.George, known to sit by the window of her house chatting with passersby) or “Printer’s Alley”. Start at King’s Square where you can pick up a pocket map from the Visitor’s center and walk your way around the city, stopping at different attractions. Make sure to stop at St.Peter’s church –built in 1612, this is the oldest Anglican church in the western hemisphere!
2. Diving and kayaking tours – Check out Tucker’s Point Dive and Watersports for fun activities - kayak tours, walk to caves, swimming in a grotto, and more. Fun for a group, and a good way to work off some of those rum swizzles! We chartered a boat and went on an afternoon cruise, stopping at various points to snorkel. A good way to get different views of the island and spend some time on the water.
Rent scooters – The easiest way to get around the island is by scooter. We rented from Oleander Cycles who have outlets all over the island, making it easy to pick up and drop off. DO be careful on the scooters, the roads and winding and hilly in some parts. There is no real “traffic” to speak of, and all vehicles are pretty chill, but be extra cautious if you are not used to riding a scooter.
The public buses run up and down the island and are convenient too, if you prefer. And cabs are usually just a phone call away.
1. Bermuda is a beautiful, clean, island that is about 20 miles from end to end. It will take a while to travel though, as roads are narrow and fairly hilly and curvy.
2. It is not cheap – dining and drinks can be expensive, so I highly suggest doing groceries and cooking a couple of meals if at all possible.
3. We stayed in this Homeaway property which was FABULOUS – Highly recommend if you are interested in a home for a group.
4. Visit the Go to Bermuda Tourism website for more info.
This view should be convincing enough....