Adventure In Bermuda: More Than Just Beaches
Most people go to Bermuda for the beaches and the resorts. Most people are wrong.
Bermuda does have a lot of really beautiful beaches, including some really unique spots that have crazy rock formations that you don’t usually see on a Caribbean island resort (because it…isn’t that). The resorts are also really beautiful, and luxurious. So if you REALLY want to do the resort thing, you can definitely do that.
But if you’re more in the mood for adventure, well we got you got covered here. Here are some awesome things we did while exploring Bermuda, that everyone should do.
Bermuda was at one point on the way to the New World. Ships crossing the Atlantic would often pass within sight of Bermuda. To defend their colonies the British built forts all over the island. They also hired privateers – private citizens who would raid ships (mostly Spanish) of countries that were enemies of Britain. Essentially legal piracy. Years later the Americans would hire privateers of their own to harass British ships as well. You can learn all about this at the Bermuda National Museum, which is itself on an awesome fort (complete with battlements and dungeons), right by where the big cruise ships dock.
Ok so the Bermuda Triangle is definitely, probably, maybe, but almost surely not real. Still. There are all kinds strange events that have taken place in the North Atlantic, especially in an area between Bermuda, Miami, and Puerto Rico. Ships and planes have disappeared with startling regularity around here – and while this is almost definitely just because of the immense amount of ship and plane traffic (literally one of the most heavily trafficked ocean lanes on Earth), there have been some real oddities in these waters. Rogue waves, magnetic anomalies, and other strange phenomena have been reported here by legitimate sources. Decide what you believe is real at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute in Hamilton (which is great for kids). Also (more importantly) learn about ocean conservation and see a room full of treasures recovered from the hundreds of shipwrecks that have taken taken place nearby!
Bermuda actually has a unique and fun little architectural feature that they refer to as moongates. In 1860, a local seafarer who had been to China fell in love with a quirky round gate design and brought the idea back to Bermuda with him. By the middle of the 20th century these round moongates had popped up all over the island. We came across a few of them totally randomly (check out the top image) and definitely got a bit of a Middle Earth vibe. They even had one at the airport!
Bermuda is located on the edge of the Sargasso Sea. This is strange because Bermuda, an island, is the last bit of land almost until Africa. The Sargasso, is actually the only “sea” on Earth that is not completely or partially encompassed by land. In fact, it is fully contained by the Atlantic Ocean. However, the ocean currents that surround it create a unique environment that separates it from simply being the middle of the ocean. Its name comes from the Sargassum seaweed that floats near the surface. Early mariners were afraid that this seaweed would clog their ships and trap them and as such many legends sprang up of “ghost fleets” of ships whose crews had long since died, floating along aimlessly. This, of course, isn’t true. But it’s still a fascinating place and there is definitely a mysterious feel to the area.
Lighthouse And Shipwrecks
Bermuda is surrounded by reefs which are quite beautiful (more on that below) but also extremely dangerous. Hundreds of ships have been destroyed by them. All but the most skilled navigators were at risk. So they built the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse to warn ships to keep their distance. Today, you can get a commanding view of the entire country from the top.
Ariel and I went on a really incredible snorkel tour with Captain Mark from Under the Sea Tours. They took us out to the Blue Hole which is a really cool area five miles off the coast of Bermuda with amazing (and huge!) coral reefs. It was like swimming through a canyon, but with tons of colorful fish and corals. And the water colors were amazing – we haven’t seen anything like that since Tahiti. We also went to a really cool shipwreck which was so big we could see it from our hotel room! The tour was great, and they even provided us with pool noodles when we got tired from fighting the current and the waves. Just be advised – this is the literal middle of the ocean! So there will be a current and small waves. I got a bunch of water in my snorkel a few times, but I’m also really bad at this stuff. Also, the water (in late May) was pretty cold – around 70-ish degrees. Later in the year it gets really warm though, so don’t be discouraged. This is 100% something everyone should do while in Bermuda.
Finally, repeat readers of this blog know that wherever I go, I like to take a minute on Friday evenings and do the Jewish ritual of welcoming the sabbath (Shabbat). In order to do this, you need to make a blessing on wine and bread. This can be a challenge for me since I feel that for something like this you need to have kosher wine (at least!) and bread. I’ve done this in places like New Zealand, Alaska, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, and literally dozens of other places in the world. Getting kosher wine or bread can be tough and I’ve often gone to great lengths to achieve this.
Bermuda was one of the toughest challenges yet as I believe the only place to get kosher wine (bread is not really a problem since they get a lot of bread from the US and a lot of American bread is kosher by default) is in Hamilton. The Jewish community in Bermuda is tiny – just a few hundred people, so there aren’t too many options – we literally got one of the last two bottles, possibly on the entire island. Also side-note, Bermuda is actually somewhat kosher friendly due to the imports of things like peanut butter and bread (and lots of other stuff from the mainland) from companies that get kosher certifications for American Jews. We even stumbled across a kosher ice cream shop in the town of St. George. But there are no kosher restaurants so be advised.
Other Cool Stuff!
And of course, there’s the city of Hamilton, and nine parishes to explore. Bermuda is one of the oldest continuously settled places (by Europeans) in the Western Hemisphere so there’s a lot more history here than you would typically get in this part of the world. And the restaurants! There are SO many great restaurants beyond the amazing fish sandwiches the island is known for.
Even the beaches vary widely, from your typical tropical beach (albeit with pink sand!) to beaches that look like Big Sur, or the west coast of New Zealand. Another really cool thing is that the water has many different shades of blue. The closest analogue I can think of is Tahiti – and that’s really not very close to this part of the world at all! Certainly not a 90 minute flight from the East Coast!
So – don’t just stay on your resort! Check out all the places above as well as in our first post from Bermuda. There’s so much more to this country than just relaxing on a pink sand beach – although that is also pretty great!
Just whatever you do, do NOT rent a car.