Family Vacations to Bermuda
|Jobston Beach, Bermuda (Corbis)|
Bermuda Family Travel Tips
- Walk along pink-sand beaches.
- Dive wrecks and snorkel with schools of tropical fish.
- Interact with dolphins.
- Take in a panoramic view from the top of the lighthouse.
- Play golf on one of the island's many courses.
Bermuda feels like a designer version of a Caribbean island—scenic, safe, and predictable, with clean streets, beautiful beaches, and a touch of British panache. An island chain separate from the Caribbean, Bermuda lies about 650 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and is fairly easy to travel to from the United States.
Bermuda's sands—long, pink-hued, and sugar-soft—are spectacular. Top spots include the south shore's Warwick Long Bay, a stretch of sand backed by coastal grasses with a coral island just off shore, and Horseshoe Bay, a long crescent of pink sand with a snack shop, umbrella rentals, lifeguards, and lockers. Because this area has so much to offer, more tourists tend to spend time here. Elbow Beach, fronted by Elbow Beach Hotel, offers another spectacular wide stretch of pale pink sand adjacent to turquoise seas and coral reefs. It's also an excellent spot to swim or body surf, as the waters are calm and safe.
With bountiful reefs, 400 shipwrecks, and underwater visibility from 70 to 100 feet, Bermuda attracts scuba and snorkel enthusiasts. Divers can explore shipwrecks like L'Hermanie, a French frigate sunk in 1838 that features canons and a host of sea critters, and the Mary Celestia, a paddle wheeler downed in 1864 that has coral twisted around its 15-foot paddle wheel. The reefs begin close to shore at Church Bay, making access possible from the shore, but be careful of the intermittently rough water. Tobacco Bay's limestone formations and fish population, including parrotfish and sergeant majors, make it a great spot for snorkeling, as is Horseshoe Bay, with its massive expanse of rock which attracts more reclusive creatures. Avoid Royal Naval Dockyard's Snorkel Park—on cruise ship days passengers fill the area, so much that you're as likely to get a flipper in your face as see a fish.
View more fish and animals at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (441.293.2727; www.bamz.org), where a 140,000-gallon North Rock coral reef tank holds hundreds of brightly hued fish, and the zoo features flocks of pink flamingos. Pet and swim with bottlenose dolphins at Dolphin Quest, part of the Bermuda Maritime Museum located in the Royal Naval Dockyard, built as a fort in the 1800s. The British fleet that burned Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812 sailed from this fort. The complex's clocktower building houses shops and cafes. Hamilton, the capital, has a wide range of shops and restaurants.
In 1609, the English ship Sea Venture left Plymouth, England, with a number of ships, headed for Jamestown, Virginia. The lead ship wrecked near Bermuda and the crew made it to land. They later built two new ships, Deliverance and Patience, and continued on to Jamestown. On Ordnance Island in Saint George, explore a replica of the Deliverance, where you get a feel for the cramped quarters that the men shared on the boat. At the west end of Bermuda climb the 185 stairs to the top of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, the second cast iron lighthouse ever built, for a panoramic view from 362 feet above sea level.
With more golf courses per square mile than anywhere else in the world, Bermuda has long been known as a golfing haven. Get into the swing at the Bermuda Golf Academy's driving range, where you can teach your 'tweens and teens the sport. The facility has a 320-yard driving range, an 18-hole putting green, and a practice chipping bunker. Tucker's Point and other courses offer discounts for players age 16 and younger.
Tip: Since there are no rental cars on the island, getting around, while not difficult, takes planning. Taxis are available, but can be expensive. Many tourists rent motor scooters, which are built for two and impractical for families of three or more, plus they aren't safe for young children. The best option: Use the public buses and ferries, and save taxis for the evening.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication