Travel Bermuda - Your Complete Information Guide To This Quintessential Island
By Sarah White
In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 570 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, lies an island filled with pink sand beaches, pastel cottages and quintessential British traditions. With a landmass of only 21 square miles, it is one of the smallest territories in the world. Bermuda actually consists of around 140 islands, of which 8 of these are linked by bridges to form a continuous fishhook shaped area of land that runs 22 miles in length and only 2 miles across at its widest point. This is the Bermuda that most everyone knows because the other islands are uninhabited and some are only rocks.
Bermuda is a different island in many ways from those that you generally think about such as the Caribbean. It is very polite and slightly restrained in the sense that you won't find laid-back locals wandering around barefoot and offering you piña coladas. It is somewhat formal in dress, as you'll see the female residents in stockings and heels and the men in jackets, ties, Bermuda shorts, and knee socks despite the beautiful weather. Golf and tennis are popular pastimes and you will find that most visitors, as well as Bermudians, are over 40. It is a wonderful and charming island that offers many things to see and do with great places to go.
Bermuda weather is very temperate, not too hot and not too cold. It is a semi-tropical island that doesn't have a rainy season and there is no one month that receives an excess of rain. Showers can be heavy at times but you'll find that the skies clear quickly and that it doesn't usually affect your outdoor plans. The temperature rarely rises above 85 F, (29.5 C) perfect for sun bathing, swimming and all water sports and there is always a cool breeze at night. May to October are the warmest months with an average high of 82 F and an average low of 74 F. The coldest part of the year runs from January to March with average highs of 69 F and lows 60 F.
The Department of Tourism promotes 2 seasons for Bermuda weather; summer's "beach and sizzle" and winter's "golf and spa." In summer, the island is filled with activities; hotel barbecues and evening dances to set off your daytime sightseeing trips, and the public beaches never close. During the off-season which runs from Nov-Mar, you'll find that the pace slows down significantly. Some of the sightseeing, dive, snorkeling, and water-skiing boats are dry-docked and only taxis operate tours of the island. There are also a few hotels and restaurants that will close, although having said that, most hotels in Bermuda do stay open and you'll find the prices slashed up to 40%. This is a great time to travel with perfect weather for golf and tennis, you can still rent boats, tour the islands and the best part? You can travel Bermuda and take full advantage of the uncrowded beaches, shops, restaurants, and walking tours and totally enjoy the beautiful sunny days.
If you're looking to rent a car while you travel Bermuda, you are going to be out of luck, as there are no car rentals available there! You can get around with public buses, ferries, rent a moped or scooter, you can use taxis - or even hire a horse and carriage. The bus system is fantastic, running on schedule all day, although there is no late system. Exact change, tokens or tickets are required. Tokens can be purchased at some hotels and guest houses, sub-post offices, and at the Central Terminal in Hamilton on Church Street. You can also get multi-day Transportation Passes for three or seven days that allow for unlimited bus trips which will save you some money. Metered taxis can be found at the airport and most large hotels and they can also double as tour operators if you want to put together your own sightseeing tour of the island. Bermuda taxi operators are among the world's finest and their knowledge and commentary can make for an unforgettable tour. You can rent them by the day, hour or mile. All taxis are metered and the tariff is fixed by law so rates are the same for all: $4 for the first mile, $1.40 for each additional mile and higher rates after 10 pm. Ferries are a scenic way to get around and can sometimes be much faster than the bus. They connect Hamilton with Paget, Warwick and the Somerset/Dockyard area. Moped rentals are available by the 1/2 day, day, week and long-term. The cost varies according to length of rental and type of cycle. Horse and Carriage tours are a nice way to see Bermuda. By day the drivers will point out the sights, and for the evenings it is very romantic.
The currency here is the Bermuda dollar and it has a 1-1 ratio to the US dollar. Both currencies are equally accepted at all establishments but the US dollar is the currency of choice because unlike the Bermuda dollar, it's exchangeable everywhere in the world. Average room prices vary as such: Low - $100/120 Mid - $120/180 High - $200+, average meal prices are: Low - $5/10 Mid - $10/25 High - $25-30. All hotels in Bermuda are subject to a 7.25% hotel tax which is added to your bill at check-out and there is also a departure tax but this is included in the price of your air ticket. When it comes to tipping, most restaurants add a 15% service charge to your bill, so just check to see if it is there so that you don't end up tipping twice and of course, if it's not there, this is the average. Hotels also generally add a service charge and this is 10%. For taxis, a tip of around 10% is average.
Bermuda has more sights to see than you will be able to visit in a single vacation, here are a just a few of the highlights. Visit the awesome underground of Bermuda, with one of the highest concentrations of limestone caves in the world, it offers a dream world that has even been the inspiration for many creative achievements including Hensen Associates "Fraggle Rock" muppets. Make sure to take a visit to the Crystal Caves or Leamington Caves, both are along the Harrington Sound Road. The Royal Naval Dockyard which began in 1809, can be seen today restored as an entertainment and shopping complex, with restaurants, crafts market, arts centre, Bermuda Maritime Museum, historic Commissioner's House, cinema, and the Clocktower shopping mall. The Botanical Gardens which feature over 1000 varieties of plant life spread out over 36 acres of landscape and are open all year from sunrise to sunset. Take time to visit the Bermuda Aquarium, Natural History Museum and Zoo where you can take self guided tours if you choose and learn about Bermuda's beginnings, whaling industry, captivating undersea exploration, and fragile environment. The aquarium, museum and zoo are internationally recognized as a centre for the preservation and reintroduction of threatened species.
If diving and snorkeling are your thing, you will find some 350 shipwrecks that are scattered among the reef formations, making it an ever changing, living museum under the sea. Another great way to see this amazing world is through a Glass Bottom Boat Tour, offered during the days and nights. And let's not forget the endless array of the beautiful Bermuda beaches. With their pink sand and limestone dunes, you will find that the beaches on the south-shore are more scenic than those on the north-shore. The most popular, also the most crowded by tourists and locals is Horseshoe Bay Beach. Your best bet is to pick up "Bermuda's Guide to Beaches and Transportation," a free publication available at most hotels and in all Visitors Service Bureaus. It combines map and bus/ferry schedules, showing you the locations of the beaches and how to reach them.
Whether you are looking to visit a bustling city like the capitol of Hamilton, which offers plenty of shopping and sightseeing during the day; dinner, drinks and dancing by night to a lazy day on the beach, to the World Heritage Site and historic Town of St. George; Bermuda will cater to all of your needs. It can be a relaxed vacation destination or an international business center. It is a mix of ancient and new worlds, friendly people and there are so many things for you to take part in and enjoy. Whatever your desire, Bermuda is sure to welcome you."
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.