By: Ryan McKee
Bermuda is a crucial destination for any Made Man to know and visit. Surprisingly few people know much about the island and lump it in with the Bahamas and Florida Keys area. In actuality, it is only a two-hour flight from New York City, 670 miles off the coast of North Carolina. Over a long weekend, for a reasonable price, you can treat yourself and your special lady to an island vacation that feels familiar, foreign and relaxingly romantic. Even though you can be back to work Monday morning, you’ll feel like you’ve been off a week.
Bermuda is the oldest remaining British overseas territory. Settled in 1612, Bermuda’s first capital, St. George’s, is the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the Americas. Previously, Spaniards and Portuguese sailors visited the island, but were turned away by the surrounding treacherous reef and shrieks of spirits. Now we know those spirit sounds were caused by the Bermuda Petrel and wild hogs in the night. However, the Spanish nickname remains, the Isle of Devils. The only shrieks you’ll hear at night these days are tree frogs and happy tourists.
Bermuda’s latitude is about that of Savannah, Georgia. You cannot go there in the middle of winter and expect tropical weather. But it is warmed by the nearby Gulf Stream, so it is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than Georgia. Leave long pants and long sleeves at home, summertime temperatures rarely exceed the mid-80s and the ocean water remains cool to jump into.
When the English colonized the island, there were no natives living there. Most locals living there today are of British or African descent. The British for obvious reasons and the African descendents from the generations of slaves brought to the island. Visitors to Hawaii may feel hostility from indigenous people, but there is little to none here. The island wasn’t taken from anyone but the birds.
Benjamins or Elizabeths?
As with most islands, their economy relies heavily on tourism. While Bermuda is still a British territory and the Queen appears on their money, luckily they do not use the British pound; therefore Americans don’t get hosed with the exchange rate. They have the Bermudian dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar. You can use either dollar interchangeably while there.
This is the first great thing about Bermuda over many other islands, especially if you live on the East Coast. Flying there, even during the height of tourist season, will cost you about the same as flying to Chicago. Multiple airlines fly there: Jet Blue, Delta, American, US Airways, etc.
Take advantage of the Duty Free booze at the airport on the way over. Liquor stores on the island will be more expensive and they often close early. Each traveler is allowed one liter each. Pick up a nice dark bottle of rum and you’ll be able to make the island’s signature drink in your hotel room for pre-partying, Dark n’ Stormies (Ginger Beer and Dark Rum).
Be aware on the way back to the United States, customs is before you go through security, so they don’t allow you to carry-on Duty Free booze. If you want to bring back some tasty Black Seal Rum, you’ll have to pack it in a check-on.
Here’s the tough news. The money you save on the plane tickets will likely get spent on your lodging. Bermudians haven’t overdeveloped the island, so there aren’t super-hotels everywhere. On the positive side, this makes the island architecture unique – full of large Southern Gothic-style homes and British cottages – instead of generic looking resorts. Also, even during a busy holiday weekend, the island does not feel overcrowded with visitors.
If you do your research, you can find a variety of accommodations. For those wanting the resort experience, look at place like the Pink Beach Club, Cambridge Beaches Resort, and Elbow Beach. These places combine astute British service with private beaches, but will run you between $500 to $750 a night during summer. A normal inn in Hamilton, the capital city (but it feels like a town), will be $200 to $300 a night. The best option for those on a budget is a bed and breakfast like the Salt Kettle House in Paget, where you can get a small cottage with a kitchenette for about $100 per person per night.
Visitors cannot rent cars, but the good news is you really don’t need to because you can rent scooters. Buzzing around the tight, windy streets of the island, you’ll feel like a kid who is just learning the excitement of a bicycle.
However, part of the excitement is the danger of the scooter. The traffic doesn’t move fast, but buses will zoom by your face on a tight turn. And if you plan on drinking, which the culture really encourages, your best bet will be the buses and ferries. You can buy an all-you-can-ride day pass for $12. The island is small enough where it’s hard to get lost. Jump on the bus, jump off when you see something interesting, and jump back on when you’re done.
Advertising for Bermuda brags about the pink sand on its beaches. They talk about it so much, you’ll be expect beaches the color of pink flamingos. That is not the case. The sand only has pink hue to it. However, once you see the clean, unspoiled turquoise water, you’ll forget all about the sand.
The must-see beaches are Elbow Beach, Horseshoe Bay, and Snorkel Beach. Elbow is gorgeous and calm and perfect for relaxing all day with your lady. Horseshoe Bay is the most famous and most beautiful. For this reason, it will have the most families on it, but there will still be plenty of room for you. Snorkel Beach is where you can get your snorkeling in while swimming alongside the historic British Navy Yard. Watch out for old cannons.
Eat and Booze It
If you’re familiar with prices in Manhattan or San Francisco, the bar and restaurant prices won’t seem too bad. Micro-brewed beers at the brewpub Frog and Onion will run you $6 a pint. Dark n’ Stormies will cost you $6 to $9 – depending on the place. The cuisine of the island is a mix between British pub fare and island seafood. A basket of fish n’ chips will run around $20 and a Wahoo fish burger will be around $12.
In Hamilton, head to the Pickled Onion if you want a nice seaside lounge and tasty seafood jambalaya. Around the corner from there is The Hog Penny, a British pub with great fish n’ chips and strong drinks. Outside of Hamilton, look for one of The Swizzle Inn locations. Their famous namesake drink, The Swizzle, is a secret combination of rum and fruit juice that will cause you to stumble out.
Now you have more information than any of your friends will have on Bermuda. You can comfortably book your trip and show any lady the time of her life. She’ll be surprised by such a well-planned and exotic weekend trip – but in actuality, Bermuda makes it easy.