A Final Note On Bermuda – A Real Island Of Mystery

A Final Note On Bermuda – A Real Island Of Mystery

So it’s been a few months since Ariel and I went to Bermuda for our 4th wedding anniversary. Our plan for the trip was to just go on our first real relaxation trip since having Jacob. That… is not what ended up happening.

Bermuda has so many beautiful beaches and resorts, but there’s just too damn much to see! The entire country is tiny (less than 30 miles end to end and only a few miles across at its widest point) – it’s actually smaller than the island of Manhattan! But there is just so much to experience there.

Last batch of prickly pears… before the Middle East?

In just three full days in the country we did the following:

  • Snorkel safari in the “Blue Hole” plus a bonus swim around a shipwreck/coral.
  • Visit three separate beaches (including the legit world-famous pink sand beaches).
  • Saw the oldest fort in the western hemisphere.
  • Learned about the Bermuda Triangle and the mysterious Sargasso Sea at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI).
  • Tried two different versions of the “fish sandwich” Bermuda is known for.
  • Explored the Bermuda National Museum, including “The Keep” and a few real live dungeons.
  • Had a surprise encounter with a kosher ice cream shop (what??).
  • Learned the hard way that renting a car in Bermuda is a terrible idea.
  • Had another literally miraculous shabbat experience, where we managed to snag one of literally the only two bottles of kosher wine on the island.
  • Learned about moongates, pirates, privateers (not the same!), reefs, shipwrecks, feral pigs, demon infestations, sunken treasures, and yet another island full of tree frogs.
  • Had three incredible dinners at three incredible restaurants.

What we DIDN’T do, was relax on the beach. Not even for an hour! There was just too much to see.

Sheep scamper in a fortress in Bermuda.
Sheep and cannons at The Keep in Bermuda.

To be clear – this was our decision. We’ve been talking about going to Bermuda for close to five years, but always found reasons to go somewhere else (New Zealand, Tahiti, Alaska) before Jacob was born. So when we finally had our opportunity, it was under the consideration that who knew if we’d ever be there again – so we might as well see as much as we could.

Ariel and I swimming with the fish at the Blue Hole off the coast of Bermuda.

We did manage to watch some incredible sunsets, and spend some time listening to the audio from our wedding reception (including a live hookup to our band, which was basically like our own private wedding concert) on the grass facing the ocean in front of our room.

View to the west from our room at Cambridge Beach and Resort in Bermuda.
Incredible sunset in Bermuda. We had three of these.

But still, our “chilling out” time was extremely limited, especially considering how much we paid to stay on an absolutely beautiful resort (that we spent less than 25% of our time at!).

Which brings me to the next thing you need to know about Bermuda – it’s EXPENSIVE. Like prohibitively expensive. The least expensive place we found to stay was over $300 per night. And this was technically the offseason.

Where we ended up staying was substantially more money than that, and while it’s possible to find hostels or whatever that are probably a lot less than that, it doesn’t change the fact that everything on the island is ultra-expensive. Even if you’re able to find cheap lodging – food, “car” rentals, and nearly every experience is going to set you back quite a bit. Other than the beaches (which aside from the resorts, are free), you need to be prepared to spend a lot of money.

At only 90 minutes by plane from NYC, and with everything we managed to do in just a few days, it’s easy to understand why. Bermuda is a country that literally exists because of where it is.

A huge cannon at the Royal Keep in Bermuda.
Bermuda was originally built up as a fortress in the 17th century. How was I supposed to ignore a country full of cannons and fortresses?!

Before there was European settlement in the New World, there were no humans on Bermuda at all! It started as a way-station for ships heading back/forth to/from Europe (hence the immense number of 17th century fortresses) and over the years has morphed into the ultimate tourist destination for people on the East Coast in search of a unique island experience, who aren’t willing to travel to Tahiti or Fiji. I’m not exaggerating when I make that comparison. This isn’t your typical “Caribbean” experience – despite the they seem to like a lot of Caribbean music there – because it’s NOT the Caribbean. It’s 700 miles away from there, and there is just a different atmosphere in Bermuda. It is utterly unique.

An illustration of Bermuda on a world map.
It’s not the most isolated place I’ve ever been…but it’s close!

Maybe it’s the Bermuda Triangle stuff. Or the Sargasso Sea. Or the unique beaches. Or the pirate history. Or the fact that there’s nothing else between it and Africa or Europe. Or maybe it’s just the fact that it’s a truly international country, with a population made up of people from all over the world. I don’t know. Whatever it is, it is definitely a different vibe from anywhere else I’ve been.

I can’t illustrate it any better than the fact that the resort we stayed at had a wall of thanks for repeat visitors. Starting at five visits, the record holder was at 160+ visits and counting. Imagine having the nearly unlimited funds to go to a resort as often as you want – and choosing to go to the same place like 10 times per year… for 16 years! There is 100% a unique draw to Bermuda.

Wall of Fame at the Cambridge Resort in Bermuda
No joke – all of these people stayed at the Cambridge Resort at least five times, many over 20, and one couple over 160 times!

But the costs are the costs.

If you’re looking to just hang out on a beach, there are way cheaper options that aren’t even that much farther away.

But if you’re looking for a unique adventurous experience – that ohbytheway you can ALSO spend a few extra days there just on the beach, it’s hard to find a place that checks those boxes north of the equator (and in the Western Hemisphere no less!). And if you are willing to, I don’t know, just sleep on the beach in a sleeping bag or something for a while and live on (delicious!!) fish sandwiches, then you can maybe even make it affordable.

Otherwise, get ready to spend a lot of money.

So should you go to Bermuda?

Remnants of the HMS Vixen.
Go to Bermuda – just…be smart about how you get there…

Ultimately, I think we will be back there. But if/when we do, we will go on a 5-7 day cruise from New York. First of all, arriving in Bermuda via ship is literally what the country was designed for. But also, having three days or so on the island to take day trips, and a few days at sea to just lounge on the ship seems like the perfect setup. It’s also a way more affordable option than spending $500+ per night (which would still be below average during high season) and includes food/entertainment during your days at sea (and obviously you can always eat on the boat even when docked). If your goal is to do all the things we did, but also relax for a bit, and also save some money, that seems like the best option. Just make sure you go off and explore on your own – because there’s SO much to see. For a guide on what you won’t want to miss – check out my other posts from this journey. I feel pretty good that we basically got to see all the top things.

The Blue Hole in Bermuda. It was surprising how tropical the waters in this part of the world looked.

Finally – believe the hype – I can’t explain it but the fish sandwich at both Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy (in Hamilton) and Woody’s (right by the royal dockyard where the cruise ships come in) is truly a work of art. It’s literally just a huge chunk of fried fish, with tarter sauce and cole slaw, on raisin bread (which I would NEVER normally eat!) but it is amazing. Pro tip – if you’re going to Art Mel’s, which is the more well-known of the two, make sure you get there right around the time they open because it is a MADHOUSE for lunch.

Verdict: A mysterious, fascinating, beautiful, potentially relaxing (if you have more than three days!), and EXPENSIVE use of the time that is given to us.

PS: A huge special thanks to our friend Megan, who we met on our snorkel trip, and was so kind as to share her GoPro videos with us after we got back home. Hence the pictures of us underwater!

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