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Bermuda

Britain's oldest colony, Bermuda, is a land of pink, sandy beaches, clear turquoise seas and picturesque old colonial towns. It is hard now to imagine that sailors knew it as Devil's Island, but the combination of shallow waters and coral reefs caused many shipwrecks in the past, which contibuted to the legend of the 'Bermuda Triangle', which stretches from Bermuda to Florida and Puerto Rico. Today, however, the reefs provide a wonderful playground for swimming, snorkelling, and diving.

 

Bermuda is an archipelago comprised of approximately 200 coral islands and islets located 650 miles (1,045km) off the east coast of America in the Atlantic Ocean. The bulk of the country consists of the seven main islands linked to each other by causeways and bridges and stretches just 20 miles (32km) from tip to tail.

 

Most visitors to the islands are American citizens who think of it fondly as very English in character. British visitors, on the other hand, seem to feel that it has a strongly American flavour. In truth, Bermuda has a distinct atmosphere that draws its influences from American and British traditions merged with local island culture. Business attire might constitute a jacket and tie with Bermuda shorts, while bikinis are banned further than 25 feet (7.5m) away from the water!

 

With its mixture of colonial style and its close proximity to America, Bermuda has become a centre of high finance as well as one of the world's most coveted holiday destinations. Generous tax advantages and satellite communications have induced a stream of major corporations to set up offices on the island, and have helped the country become one of the richest, per capita, in the world.

 

Because of its natural beauty and close proximity to Florida, Bermuda is a very popular destination for both cruise ships and yachts. Over 200,000 people visit the islands from cruise ships every year.

 



Globe Hotel

Situated across from St Peter's is the Globe Hotel. It was built in 1699 and houses the fascinating National Trust Museum. The museum documents Bermuda's role in the US Civil War when St George enjoyed unprecedented wealth from helping the southern states run the northern naval blockade.


Tel:  (441) 297 1423
 


Tucker House Museum

This elegant, early 18th-century edifice was the home of Henry Tucker, a descendant of Bermuda's second governor, Daniel Tucker. A freed American slave named Joseph Hayne Rainey ran a barber shop here during the American Civil War. Years later he returned to South Carolina to become the first African-American member of the United States House of Representatives. Today, the mansion is a museum and houses the furniture and silver collection that once belonged to the Tucker family.


Tel:  (441) 297 0545
 


Somers' Wharf

Somers' Wharf is a tastefully redeveloped area on the waterfront with a selection of shops and restaurants. The Carriage Museum has a collection of well-maintained carriages ranging from a dog-cart to a four-horse brake that ruled the roads until as recently as 1946 when cars were legalized. Situated nearby is Tobacco Bay, a good spot for swimming and snorkelling.


 


Fort St Catherine

On the northern tip of St George's Island is Fort St Catherine, overlooking the beach where Sir George Somers and his shipwrecked crew came ashore in 1609. Bermuda's first governor Richard Moore, who was a carpenter by trade, built a wooden fort on this site several years later. Since then it was rebuilt and renovated so that today it is a massive fortification complete with a moat, drawbridge, ramparts and a maze of tunnels. Fort St Catherine is now used as a museum containing period weapons, colourful dioramas, a wax figure of Queen Elizabeth II, and replicas of Britain's crown jewels. An audiovisual presentation focuses on the many forts located around Bermuda.


 


Somerset Island

The world's smallest drawbridge links Somerset Island to Bermuda's main island. The section that flips up is only two feet (60cm) across, just wide enough to allow a sailboat mast through. At the centre of the island set in nine hectares (22 acres) of parkland is Fort Scaur. It was built during the American War of Independence to protect the Naval Dockyard and is now a great picnic spot with good views of the island. Somerset Long Bay, with its 600ft (183m) of brilliant-white sand is the largest and best of the island's west side beaches.


 


Gibb's Hill Lighthouse

On the southern point of the islands and obvious from miles around is the Gibb's Hill Lighthouse. It is well worth walking up the tower's 185 steps to the top from where one can enjoy a panoramic view of the islands. The cast-iron building was prefabricated in England and assembled here in 1844 to warn ships off Bermuda's dangerous coast. It is still in use today.


 


South Shore Park

This one-and-a-half-mile-long (2km) coastal reserve protects some of Bermuda's finest beaches. There are a total of 12 beaches, ranging from tiny inlets such as Peel Rock Cove, to larger half-moon bays such as Horseshoe Bay, recognised as one of the world's finest beaches. On the eastern fringe of the park is a wonderful stretch of pink and white coral sands, known as Warwick Long Bay. This beach generally has good waves suitable for bodysurfing. A coastal trail runs through the park, linking the series of coves and bays that are naturally divided by rocky outcrops.


 


Spittal Pond Nature Reserve

Bermuda's largest and most accessible nature reserve offers excellent trails and the island's finest bird watching. The reserve attracts scores of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl, with the greatest variety to be found during spring and autumn. Of the two-dozen shorebird species that feed at the edge of the brackish Spittal Pond, the Lesser Yellowlegs are the most abundant. Egrets and herons are frequent visitors as well. Visitors can walk along a scenic mile-long nature trail that runs through the reserve along the shoreline and through woods and farmland.


Tel:  (441) 236 6483
 


Fort Hamilton

Fort Hamilton is a substantial Victorian fort with a panoramic view of Hamilton Harbour. It is one in a series of fortifications built in the mid-19th century during a period of rising tensions between Britain and the USA. The ramparts are mounted with 18-ton artillery pieces (to date unused) capable of firing 400-pound (181kg) cannonballs through iron-hulled vessels. Located nearby is Clarence Cove, a popular little beach that forms part of Admiralty House Park. The house itself dates from the early 19th century and was built as the residence of the Royal Navy's regional commander. Another military echo along North Shore Road, Black Watch Well, marked with a memorial tablet, was dug by troops of the famous Scottish regiment during a drought in 1849.


Tel:  (441) 292 1234
 


Botanical Gardens

Paget is a delightful park that provides the perfect departure point from which to study the island's flora. It is a fragrant haven of exotic subtropical plants, flowers, and trees. Some of the highlights of this 36-acre paradise include the palm garden with native palmetto trees, the subtropical fruit garden, a garden for the visually-impaired which features scented plants, a ficus collection, and a flowering hibiscus garden. In addition, there are greenhouses with orchids, bromeliads, a miniature forest, an aviary, and a variety of flowering houseplants. The white house on the grounds of the Botanical Gardens is Camden, the official residence of Bermuda's Premier. The house is open for tours, except when official functions are scheduled.


Tel:  (441) 236 4201
 


Harrington Sound

Harrington Sound is a large inland sea five miles (8km) northeast of Hamilton. Its calm waters provide perfect sailing territory. The Sound is linked to the ocean by the narrow Flatts Inlet where changes to the tide are magnified and waters rush beneath a bridge connecting the two sides. On the north side of the inlet, opposite Flatts Village, is the Bermuda Aquarium where visitors can enjoy more than 100 species of indigenous Bermuda fish in ocean and reef environments. Located within the same complex is the Natural History Museum and zoo that features animals from the Caribbean, Australia, Asia, Madagascar and the Galapagos.


Tel:  (441) 293 2727 (Aquarium)
 


Crystal Caves

The stretch of land between Harrington Sound and Castle Harbour is riddled with caves. Located 80ft (24m) underground, Crystal Caves with its dramatic stalactites and stalagmites never ceases to amaze and inspire. There is a wonderful walk over the pontoon bridge to Cahow Lake, with crystal-clear water that reaches a depth of 55ft (17m). Visitors to the Crystal Caves can also enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Palm Garden. A little further on are the Leamington Caves with their incredible crystal formations and underground pools that can be explored along well-marked paths. More caves are located on the grounds of the 300-year-old Walsingham House, now a well-known restaurant.


Tel:  (441) 293 0640
 


King's Square

Many attractions are located around King's Square where a beautiful 18th century Town Hall overlooks the old pillory and stocks. The Hall is no longer in use but does provide great photo opportunities. Located close by is the dunking stool where gossips and petty offenders were forced to endure the humiliation of being dunked in the harbour. A few minutes walk from here is the Old State House, Bermuda's first all-stone structure and oldest building dating to 1620. Originally known as Sessions House, it was the first permanent home of the colonial assembly, which until then, had held their debates in St Peter's Church.


 


Somers Garden

Located North of King's Square is Somers Garden, named after the colony's founder whose ship, Sea Venture, was wrecked off the island in 1609. Finding it a fairly nice place to be washed ashore, Sir George Somers built a replacement vessel from the local cedar, left some sailors behind to establish British claim to the islands and then headed home. He returned within the year but died shortly after arrival, leaving his heart, quite literally, on the island (his vital organs and entrails are in a small tomb in the Garden). The rest of his body however was sent back to England, as was customary at the time.


Tel:  (441) 297 1532
 


St Peter's Church

St Peter's Church is one of Bermuda's most cherished landmarks. It is the oldest Anglican Church outside Britain. The original wooden structure was built in 1612 and its roof thatched with palmetto. Among St Peter's many treasures are a mahogany altar, the oldest piece of Bermudian furniture on the Island, the St George's chalice that was presented in 1625, a Bible from 1594, Charles I silver, open cedar timber beams, beautiful chandeliers, and marble memorials to some of the Island's earliest governors. St Peter's served as the only public meeting place in Bermuda until the State House was built. The churchyard is also well worth walking around in. Tombstones tell of epidemics, shipwrecks and war. The grave of Sir Richard Sharples, Bermuda's governor who was assassinated in 1973, lies on the east side; on the west side is a collection of unmarked stones, poignant testimony to the segregated slave section.


Tel:  (441) 297 8359
 


Bermuda Maritime Museum

Displaying over 500 years of maritime history, the Bermuda Maritime Museum is a wonderful place to take the kids to learn about the seas as well as the slave trade as well as other aspects of Bermuda's naval history. Kids will love the displays and canons.


Tel:  441 234 1418  Email:  info@bmm.bm
 


Bermuda Railway Trail

Bermuda used to have a railway that served the island's eastern and western cities between 1931 and 1948, but in 1984, the government opened the Bermuda Railway Trail as a public walking trail and bridle path. A great way to spend a few hours with the kids, the trail can also be cycled, ridden on horseback or even roller-bladed in certain areas. This 21-mile (35km) trail is a great way to see the island's natural flora and fauna and to experience some breathtaking views and do a spot of bird watching. Organised walking tours available.


Tel:  441 295 9428  Email:  ltgorham@ibl.bm
 


Royal Naval Dockyard

A great family attraction is the Royal Naval Dockyard where shops, restaurants and museums can be visited as well as the Dolphin Quest attraction. These recently restored dockyards are a great place to take the kids where they can marvel at the sheer size of everything and enjoy an ice cream or lunch in the sun. Ships occasionally land at the dockyard during the summer months - a real treat for children to witness.


 


Bermuda Snorkel Park

Located at the Royal Naval Dockyard, the Bermuda Snorkel Park is a wonderful place for kids to explore the underwater marine life that surrounds this island. There is even a beach bar and restaurant here too, where parents can kick their feet up and relax with a cocktail while the kids enjoy all the water sports on offer, such as jet ski tours, pedalos, kayaks and even a giant water slide.


Tel:  441 234 6989
 


Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo

Home to over 200 species of fish, the Bermuda Aquarium is a fantastic place to spend the day with the kids exploring marine life and coral exhibits. The zoo is home to more than 300 birds, reptiles and mammals from the oceanic islands. The Natural History Museum is also located here giving kids more than enough variety to keep themselves entertained.


Tel:  441 293 2727  Email:  info.bzs@gov.bm
 


 


 

 

 

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