For years, one of my friends has claimed Bermuda to be her favorite place in the entire world. I never gave it much thought–I mean, yeah, islands are amazing–until I was looking at places to visit over a much-needed long weekend sans kids. After some quick research, and upon discovering that flights to Bermuda were about the same as flights to Phoenix or New Orleans (yes, really), I decided it was high time to see for myself what she’d fallen in love with many years before.
Long story short, I was not disappointed.
Before I disclose why, and subsequently why you should absolutely add Bermuda to your travel bucket list, let me disclose a few other things.
One, we travel a lot, even now that we have kids (although less than before, because, well, money). Travel is one of my biggest life values; it invigorates me like nothing else. I am aware that traveling as much as I have makes me very lucky and I try not to take it for granted. I am also grateful to my husband for supporting my ringing sense of wanderlust even though it’s not as high on his list of priorities. I like to think we make a good team.
You may be surprised to hear we travel because, surprisingly, this is my first travel post. (I did blog about my trip to Scandinavia on another friend’s blog a few years ago. Check out my posts about Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.) I always intend to post after we travel somewhere new, but I just haven’t gotten around to it (add it to the list of things I’ve not yet covered). Anyway, this is still fresh and the weekend was so short, I felt it would be a great segue into more travel blogging. Let’s hope you agree.
Secondly, this post is not an ad nor is it sponsored in any way (although I’m totally open if any other island destinations want to prove why they’re even better). The enthusiasm you read from this post is 100% genuine as are my recommendations for places to eat, stay, and explore.
Now that we’ve crossed those t’s, let’s move on to the top five reasons why you should visit Bermuda.
Why Bermuda Should Be Your Next Vacation Destination
1. It’s so close
Despite being included in the long list of Caribbean islands in the Beach Boys song “Kokomo,” Bermuda is, in fact, in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s basically along the same latitude as South Carolina. While this meant mid-April temps were a little chillier than we had hoped–though mid-70s felt plenty like paradise after this long Chicago winter–it also meant we were only a two-hour flight from Philadelphia. Since Philly is only an hour and a half away from Chicago, we were in Bermuda in the time it would take us to reach LA. Not bad.
And, for what it’s worth, those cooler mid-April temps also meant our visit fell in the off-season, when it’s slightly cheaper and much less crowded. We may have had to wear wet suits when snorkeling and cardigans at night, but those two things made up for it.
2. It’s small, safe, clean, and convenient
Prior to visiting, I didn’t know much about Bermuda aside from the fact that it’s one of the biggest insurance hubs in the world (which is why, according to the UN, it has the fourth highest GDP per capita). That’s certainly true, and it’s apparent that there’s a lot of wealth on the island, but I also discovered that it’s a small but proud country with a rich history and charming people.
Bermuda is only 24 miles long and averages about a mile wide. To put that in perspective, people voluntarily run farther than this for fun. The population is only about 65,000, meaning the entire island is only slightly larger than my alma mater (hook ’em). The country values privacy, making it a popular haunt for celebrities. According to a taxi driver of ours, paparazzi are unable to get work visas and therefore have their equipment confiscated upon arrival. More importantly, though I think that’s noteworthy, crime is low. As someone told us, it’s not exactly inconspicuous for a thief to lug a stolen TV on the back of their scooter. Bermuda is so safe that many people apparently leave their doors unlocked. The relatively small and interconnected community is likely also to thank for that, though I can’t be sure.
Also important for US travelers, the exchange rate between currencies is equal, so Bermudian dollars and US dollars are accepted interchangeably. Tourists are not allowed to rent cars in Bermuda, so taxis, buses, or scooters are the primary form of transportation around the island. We used taxis, and they were all very easy to arrange. Basically, there’s not a lot of guesswork to be had. Another bonus in terms of easy travel for Americans is that English is Bermuda’s official language. Needless to say, it’s a perfect little oasis for even the most timid traveler.
And if you’re into that kind of thing, it’s got some of the weirdest knickknack souvenirs I’ve ever seen.
3. Bermudians are extremely friendly and accommodating
We stayed at Cambridge Beaches Resort and Spa on the western tip of the island and it provided the perfect getaway. Before I continue, take a look at the following pictures all taken of the hotel property so you can see for yourself.
I first corresponded with the staff to arrange transportation from the airport, and I could immediately tell our stay would be fantastic. Everyone we spoke to was warm, hospitable, and helpful, which is obviously something you hope to find at a resort (but don’t always). What was unique in the people we encountered at Cambridge Beaches, however, was that their warmth and friendliness seemed authentic and not just because it was their job to be nice. This was true of every single person we came across on our stay in Bermuda. Yes, many of the people we encountered were in the hospitality industry, from the hotel to restaurants to taxi drivers to the scuba instructors. But even the random Bermudian people we met out and about struck up delightful conversations with us and genuinely seemed to want to help make our experience on Bermuda the best it could be. It’s like everyone on the island was trained in being travel guides. As someone who likes doing this for Chicago visitors, I felt like I was with my kind of people.
4. The food and drinks are delicious
When you’re parents to two young children and you have a long weekend to yourselves (with a couple of your closest friends), you absolutely look forward to consuming copious amounts of tropical drinks. Luckily, Bermuda is known for two such cocktails in particular: the Rum Swizzle, basically rum punch, and the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, dark rum and ginger beer. Despite my affinity for Mai Tais, I’m not usually that fond of rum. I am fond of drinking what the locals recommend, though, and I can’t say I was let down.
I may have been too hungry to take pictures of the food we ate (not sorry), but rest assured I took my stereotypical beach drink pics. You’re welcome.
Though I don’t have any of those food pictures, the food was so good I, at the very least, owe you the names of the restaurants I’d suggest. As you can imagine, Bermuda’s fish is plentiful, fresh, and absolutely delicious.
One of our first meals on the island was also perhaps one of the best, the wahoo fish sandwich on raisin bread with the works at Woody’s. We were actually en route to a different restaurant when a taxi driver persuaded us to avoid the “tourist trap” and eat at Woody’s instead. I’m so glad we did, because the sandwich was perfectly crafted and very reasonably priced (as were their Rum Swizzles).
On the other end of the spectrum was another great meal at Tamarisk, a fine dining restaurant conveniently located in our hotel. There, I’d highly recommend the lemon pepper-crusted red hind followed by the vanilla-lavender ice cream with a brownie and hazelnut sauce. I wish that meal were in front of me right now.
Another hit was our meal at Bonefish in the historic Dockyard. I thoroughly enjoyed my Mai Tai and salad with perfectly grilled and seasoned snapper, and the bite I had of the fish tacos was also something to write home about.
My last recommendation is for the Henry VIII Sushi Bar and Pub. One, how can you not be drawn to that delightfully strange combination of foods? Two, their butter chicken, because it makes sense that Indian food was also on the menu, was very tasty. If you visit, I’d recommend going during the day because the ocean views from the restaurant, which we visited at night, looked like they would have been fantastic with more light.
5. It’s gorgeous
I can show you as many pictures as I want, but the true beauty of Bermuda is hard to describe without seeing it firsthand. The pink sand beaches strike a beautiful contrast against the serene waters of cerulean, aquamarine, turquoise, and cobalt. The vivid green vegetation is perfectly scattered amongst the brightly colored homes tucked away from the curved two-lane roads. Bermuda’s 24 miles sure pull a picturesque punch in a small amount of space.
Our taxi rides were certainly helpful in showing us more of what the island had to offer, but my favorite–and probably most incredible–views came from our snorkel adventure.
We used Blue Water Divers because they accommodated both scuba divers, like our friends, and snorkelers, like us, on the same boat. We took a half-day trip out around two sites: the Marie Celeste, a nineteenth century Confederate paddle steamer shipwreck, and a reef. The water was chilly, hence the wet suits you see above, but incredibly clear. I honestly had no idea the water in the Atlantic could be so clear. Our friends dove down 53 feet to the bottom of the shipwreck, and, amazingly, I could see the them clearly from my position on the surface. As I floated above the scuba divers’ bubbles and cautiously took note of the Portuguese man o’ wars, I observed sunbeams shining through the water all the way to the bottom of the ocean. It was almost as if I were a modern-day Ariel luxuriating in the sun-rippled sand. That is if Ariel were wearing a black seal suit and shivering at the surface. To-may-to, to-mah-to.
If you find yourself seeking your own snorkeling princess adventure, I do highly recommend Blue Water Divers. The captain and crew went out of their way to ensure our safety–especially that of the scuba divers–and followed suit of all other Bermudians in their overall travel guide helpfulness. Plus, one of the scuba instructors and I bonded over breastfeeding, so that’s fun.
I sadly have no underwater pictures, but here are some more (unedited) photos to demonstrate the splendor that is Bermuda.
Also Good to Know
It’s a great to place to visit with friends
Bermuda’s close proximity and reasonable off-season prices made for a great long weekend getaway with some great friends.
None of this would have been possible without generous grandparents
Thanks to Grandma and Granddad, our kids spent a fun-filled weekend at home while we were gallivanting around an island. It’s amazing how relaxed and refreshed you feel after spending three nights away from your kids. Thank you, Mom and Dad!
But for real, if it’s within your means, you should take a weekend away from your kids
Of course you’ll miss them dearly and end up spending a good chunk of your time discussing them with your spouse, but do it anyway. It’s so important to have alone time with your significant other, especially because it’s easy to lose focus on each other in the everyday grind of raising kids. Imagine waking up on your own schedule or consuming as much alcohol as you want without worrying about its effects the next morning (just kidding, you still can’t drink much because now you’re old and you know better). Or imagine spending more than two minutes in the shower or on the toilet without a little voice calling from the other side of the door, “Mommy! Where ARE you?!” or, “Mommy! What are you DOING?!” Can you picture it? It’s even more magical than you think. Plus, taking a few days away is a great way to help you reset and remember all the amazing things about them instead of feeling worn down by the tantrums and lack of sleep. Absence and the heart…
Pro tip: if you plan to leave your exclusively breastfed baby for a few days, start pumping early. I swear, lemon-lime Gatorade and oatmeal helped increase my supply enough to pump one bottle’s worth of milk a day on top of what I was feeding her. That adds up quickly. The only bummer was having to pump routinely during the vacation. It would have been better if I had a good way to store that milk, but it was much easier for me to dump it as I went. Even though I was prepared and felt confident in that decision, there is something extremely cringe-worthy and tear-inducing about dumping your breastmilk down the sink.
Book Your Trip!
One final recommendation if you plan to go is to browse travel packages on the major airline sites. By booking our hotel and airfare together, we ended up saving around $400. That’s $400 more to spend on Rum Swizzles. Just sayin’.
Ah, Bermuda. I haven’t even been back at home for a week yet and I’m already ready to start planning our return.