Many of the popular island destinations in this part of the world boast golf course resorts and beautiful beaches, but Bermuda has so much more than the standard things to see and do. While many of the activities can be enjoyed year-round, Bermuda's sub-tropical climate means that May to September is when the island is liveliest. Here is our pick for the best things to do in Bermuda beyond the resorts.
The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guides guidebooks — your essential guides for visiting the world.
1. Get your bearings from Gibbs Hill Lighthouse
To really get a sense of where you are – a low-lying paradise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean – try a trip up Gibb's Hill Lighthouse. This is where you'll find one of the best views of this 21 square mile archipelago, as well as a unique place for lunch.
The oldest cast iron lighthouse in the world started sending its beacon out to ships in 1846 to help reduce the number of wrecked ships scattered on Bermuda's ocean floors.
2. Jump inside the ocean playground
With so much of Bermuda's life extending beyond the land, it's only fitting that getting in, on, or under the ocean. This is one of the essential things to do in Bermuda. This clear blue underwater world is full of colourful fish and beautiful coral reefs (the same reefs that were often the cause of the famed shipwrecks).
The 300 shipwrecks surrounding the island are very popular with divers, but you don't have to be a diver to enjoy them. Some are in shallow waters, so can still be appreciated by snorkelers, and the fish and reefs can be easily reached from shore in places like Tobacco Bay.
3. Go whale watching and glowworm spotting
Although it's possible to see whales and worms from shore, a boat excursion is much more likely to provide an unforgettable sighting and is a great reason to get out on the water. March and April are the months to see humpback whales on their annual migration from warm southern waters, while the glowworms' flashy mating ritual happens from May to October.
4. Walking underwater — one of the unique things to do in Bermuda
Hartley's Undersea Walk is one of the unique and unmissable things to do in Bermuda. It is sure to amaze everyone from the seasoned diver to the cynical teenager. Ever seen a wild angelfish swim through a hoop? Well, Greg Hartley will introduce you to Diana, who can do just that.
You can also meet Charles the Hogfish, Jack the Grouper and many more using a specially designed helmet that allows you to walk on the seabed without the need for an oxygen tank or any diving experience.
5. Take a light-hearted history lesson
History was never as entertaining as it is in the World Heritage Site of St.George's, where from May to September a historical re-enactment takes place in Kings Square. The amusing performance led by the town crier sees an eighteenth-century wench receiving her (somewhat sexist) punishment for gossiping and nagging her husband: a chilly dunking in the harbour.
6. Pay your respects at St. Peter's Church
The oldest Anglican Church outside the British Isles, you enter this historic building on some wide steps, opening to its cool cedar interior. Be sure to pay respects, as it’s a working Christian church and remember that you are likely walking over some long-deceased bodies buried underneath the main structure. Queen Elizabeth II herself visited during her Diamond Jubilee and granted it the title “Their Majesties' Chappell”.
7. Witness traditional dance with the Gombeys
You'll hear them before you see them; a heart-pounding drumbeat pierced by whistles and finally a burst of wild and colourful fringes, feathers and fancy footwork. These masked-folk dance troupes represent a tradition passed down through families, with origins that trace back to the dark times of slavery
8. Catch the buzz at market nights
Market nights are a seasonal treat in St. Georges, Hamilton, and Dockyard for tourists and locals alike. Stall tables are laden with local handicrafts. Here you'll find Bermuda's talented artists present their work, which is inspired by the beauty that surrounds them daily. Music plays, children's faces are painted, and it's a likely place for the traditional Gombeys to make an appearance.
9. Go underground in the caves
The Crystal and Fantasy caves were discovered over a century ago by a couple of boys looking for their lost cricket ball. Stalactites, stalagmites and an underground lake make this an intriguing peek into the belly of the island.
10. Explore the National Museum of Bermuda
For a full immersion in Bermuda's history, visit the National Museum of Bermuda. Formerly known as the Bermuda Maritime Museum, the museum explores Bermuda's rich historical past, including early settlements, colonisation, slavery and military history.
Of particular interest is the Commissioner's House, a Gregorian-style building that was formerly the residence of Britain's highest-ranking officers and an officially Designated UNESCO Slave Route Project. It also houses several exhibitions on Bermuda's role in the First and Second World Wars as well as the history of the Royal Navy in Bermuda.
11. ''Swizzle in; swagger out'' of the pub
The motto of Bermuda's oldest and most famous pub hints at the experience awaiting those who enter. Established in 1932 in a seventeenth-century roadhouse, the Swizzle Inn at Baileys Bay is a cheerful jumble of business cards and graffiti-garnished walls. The home of the island's unofficial national drink, the Rum Swizzle, also serves the best nachos on the island.
12. Relax on the Horseshoe Bay Beach
Of course, no list of things to do in Bermuda would be complete without some beach time, especially after the exhausting array of activities on offer above. The sugar-soft pink beaches that rim the island are a major attraction, and Horseshoe Bay with its lifeguards and beach facilities is the most popular for people watching, swimming and an overall great beach day.
13. Discover Walsingham Nature Reserve & Blue Hole Park
An extensive tract of land located in Hamilton Parish includes coastal and woodland areas from Blue Hole Park to the Walsingham Reserve or 'Tom Moore's Jungle'. Visiting these attractions is one of the best things to do in Bermuda for nature lovers, as they both boast amazing natural wonders.
The centrepiece of Walsingham Nature Reserve is the grottoes, which draw water from Castle Harbour through underground channels. Visitors can spot marine life in local waters. The coastline is ideally suited for snorkelling, with shallow coves and reefs.
The Blue Hole Park, as the name suggests, is primarily attracted by the Blue Hole, which is a deep, large pool surrounded by lush mangroves. The pool is a great place to swim, and exploring the park's many hiking trails is a great addition to the experience.
14. Stroll around Bermuda Botanical Garden in Hamilton
A visit to the Bermuda Botanical Gardens is a must among all things to do in Bermuda. Here you will find a wide variety of flowers, both native and exotic, as well as other plants and trees. The park is divided into several sections and offers, among other things, an aromatic garden designed to be especially accessible to blind visitors.
In addition to the beauty of the local flora, it is also home to the colonial Camden House, which serves as the residence of the Premier of Bermuda. You can combine a stroll through the garden with a free tour of Camden House, which has a good collection of art and antiquities.
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Bermuda is definitely an outstanding exotic destination, to find even more, see our guide to the most exotic places to travel in the world.
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