Bermuda: Take Two
Last time we were in Bermuda, it was just the two of us and I lamented the fact that we really didn’t get a whole lot of time to just relax. There was just so much to see and do, that we felt compelled to do it all.
And I thought we DID do it all. Well it turns out that we really didn’t! First of all we missed out on the largest fort on the island, when we arrived a few minutes after it closed thanks to our awful rental “car” that needed two hours to charge in the middle of our trip. So this time, getting back to Fort St. Catherine was at the very top of my priority list.
This place was excellent. It’s the oldest stone fort in the western hemisphere. When I was a kid, I had a couple of Lego sets where you built forts and pirate ships – this was that, but in real life! It also had an extensive set of dungeons, much larger than the place we went in 2019 at the Royal Dockyards. Jacob really liked it too, although be advised the stairs going up/down into the fort were very narrow. There are also some pretty dark and somewhat scary looking corridors, but he was really a champ about it!
Above ground, you got a pretty spectacular view of the North Atlantic, along with some pretty incredible, truly ginormous cannons. Very easy to pretend you were under attack by pirates or whatever. Just a really really really cool place to go.
The other really great thing we did was go to Crystal Cave. While this was certainly no Carlsbad Caverns – or even comparable in size to somewhere like Luray or Howe Caverns – this place had something really incredible going for it… the floor was pretty much all submerged. The whole experience takes place on a pontoon bridge that rises and falls with the tide. So you can see stalagmites that are underwater! Pretty cool actually, and not your typical cave site.
We also had a great tour guide, and because there’s been very little tourism during Covid, PLUS we’re pretty deep into the offseason it was just the three of us and him!
They also did something really cool, which was to shut off all the lights in the cave so you can see what it’s really like to be a subterranean explorer.
Just be advised that our experience was pretty atypical. Normally they have over 100 people in that cave at a time, which seems nuts to me.
On our final night we took a sunset cruise, which was really expensive but we hadn’t been on a trip in 2+ years, so we splurged. Our captain, Zander, was really great – he found us a nice cove where the wind was minimal where we could relax for a little on the front of the boat. Jacob even was into it for the first half of the trip, and during the second half he was content to just play on his tablet while Ariel and I got to enjoy the beautiful colors of the sunset and the water.
Aside from that, we did a really nice hike to the Blue Hole, and went to an aquarium and zoo that Jacob really enjoyed. They had lemurs roaming around!
We also stayed away from renting any car-like vehicles after our fiasco last time. We just took taxis and buses all around, and really it didn’t even cost that much more than we spent on that disaster. I didn’t see any Tazzari Zeros on the road, although I did see a couple parked by the rental company, so maybe they’ve retired them for good.
All in all, everything I said last time about Bermuda holds up. Although now that I’ve been here a second time I can see us actually coming back here more often. Other than Israel and Canada, Bermuda is the only country I’ve been to more than once, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
It’s just so easy to get to from New Jersey, and now that we’ve really seen just about everything there is to see, I can see this turning into a great annual 2 to 3 day getaway. It’s the only tropical getaway (well… semi-tropical I guess) where you can fly to from NJ and still have a substantial portion of your first and last day to actually enjoy your time here.
And I will also say that we have been absolutely blown away by the food. I mean, maybe it’s just that we haven’t been outside of the East Coast for two years, but the restaurant at the hotel, as well as several others we went to (notable shoutout to Village Pantry in Flatts Village, where I had what I believe was the greatest lunch of my entire life) have been truly stupendous. I didn’t really talk a whole lot about the food last time, but this island truly offers a world-class dining experience and I don’t think you really get that experience in most parts of the Caribbean.
That’s not to say there isn’t any good food in the Caribbean, that would be ludicrous. But for the most part people are generally eating at their resort and you’re just not going to get the kind of variety or quality you can get in a city. For better or worse, most tourists are not venturing out into the cities in most Caribbean countries.
Bermuda is also such an international country – a true waystation – almost like a Switzerland in the middle of the Atlantic, that there’s a real European feel here, and that extends to the restaurants for sure. Also the fish here… I mean man… I just don’t know how else you can get this level of quality anywhere else (including the US). I would say what we had really rivaled the incredible fish experiences we only had in or along the Pacific. I just don’t think you can replicate this anywhere on the Atlantic seaboard, and definitely not within a 90 minute flight from New Jersey.
One other thing to consider is that both times we were here were the offseason, although last time was really like the day before tourism picks up. February in Bermuda is the coldest month which means the fewest number of tourists in the country. There are usually less than 10 flights a day and most are half empty. Generally you’re not going to half more than a few hundred people coming into the country each day, and because there are no cruises right now due to Covid (this is actually due to resume in March) it felt like we had practically the whole island to ourselves.
And guess what? Our weather was sunny 90% of the time, it only rained a couple of times at night, and each day the highs were in the 70’s. The ocean water temperature was in the upper 60’s so we really only put our feet in, but the pool was heated so we still got some good water time in. There was also a pretty strong onshore breeze which made it feel cooler than it was, but overall this is an excellent opportunity to save some money AND avoid the crowds. This was supposedly the worst time of year and we still had an awesome time. Off-season is the way to go.
So yeah, last time we were here I said I didn’t think we would be back unless it was on a cruise. Maybe ironically, Bermuda cruises are set to resume in a few weeks. But at this point, I could see myself coming back here every year or two. It just feels good to be here and it’s so easy to get to. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.