Tag Archives: Bermuda holiday

A week in Bermuda: the perfect holiday!

An itinerary for visitors:

Having had a series of visitors during this last year I realised that the itinerary we used for them might be of interest to others. So here it is:

Day 1: Meet at airport, drive to home (or hotel) and sit in garden with cool drinks, listen to tree frogs and wait for the sunset. If your visitors have come from UK then keep them awake until past 9pm – they will still wake early but won’t be asking for breakfast at 4am the next day. The BA flight arrives around supper time but the passengers are very well fed generally, +/- wine, so I have discovered the best solution to “do we have supper?” is a bacon roll with a glass of wine. If you are island visitors staying in a hotel then perhaps a bowl of Fish Chowder – practically every restaurant/eating place serves this.

On the water.

On the water.

Day 2: This might depend on which day of the week it happens to be, so the days are interchangeable with the basic premise of “just one big thing each day”. So this day is a Kayak paddle with snorkelling. It does help if you have your own kayak and water access but even if not there are plenty of places to hire kayaks. We are lucky enough to have water access into Harrington Sound so we paddled across to Trunk Island and swam around the shallow waters there, good site for the snorkel-naive to practise.

Experiments with GoPro (image with permission from SL)

If based at the West End then Mangrove Bay and the islands around there would work just as well. For our last visitors we did a picnic lunch and took them into Hamilton for dinner. This coincided with Harbour Night, gombeys and craft stalls along Front Street. At the moment Harbour Night is only during the peak summer months, but I did see a news article that it might be extended later into the Autumn or that the Winter tourist program might have a similar event on a regular basis. Gombeys are amazing so if you don’t catch them at Harbour night look out for the Saturdays in the Park at Queen Elizabeth Park (Par-la-ville) or if it’s winter then Tuesday’s at Pier 6 along Front Street.
For dinner my recommendation is Angelo’s in the Walker Arcade, good menu, pleasant ambience and always tasty food. Of course that depends on your budget, but I am assuming you don’t wish to take out a mortgage to fund your island holiday.

Image with permission from SL.

Image with permission from SL.

Day 3: Start with a Jetski adventure. See previous post for suggestions. This was probably my son’s favourite activity, the girls on the other hand were “glad we have done it but never again” – with varying degrees of tremor when they finished! Substitutions for this would be a Wildcat Round the Island tour or one of the Boat trips around the Great Sound.
After the Jetski we visited the small Hayden Chapel, with a bottle of water and half an hour to watch the view or read a book. If you are closer to the East End then this would be a brief visit to Tucker House in St George or to Carter House on St David’s Island.
For lunch we visited the Southampton Princess Hotel – their Pulled Pork Tacos are delicious and I recommend the strawberry lemonade. I understand the cocktails here are also good, but I was driving 😟

The afternoon is for one or more of the South Shore beaches.

Image by SL

Image by SL

Day 4: In the morning visit Miles Market to pick up a picnic lunch then hire a Boston Whaler from Grotto Bay for the afternoon – 1-5pm, very reasonable cost at $140 plus fuel. Remember sun lotion, hats, snorkels and water.
If you wish to have a slightly bigger boat I would suggest St George, Mangrove Bay or Somerset. The advantage of doing this in Castle Harbour is the wreck off Nonsuch Island and the almost deserted beach that is only accessible by boat. Round this off with a drink at the bar at Grotto Bay or Swizzle Inn, then supper at home. I chose not to cook so a take-out from East meets West solved that issue.

Day 5: Dockyard, Glass-bottom boat, Mini-golf with a drive back via the sea-glass beach. To be honest the glass bottom part of the boat trip is the hook to get you on the boat, you don’t actually see that much under the boat, but what you do get is a gentle chug out to the Wreck of the Vixen, a feeding frenzy of bream, chub and snapper and maybe a few turtles on the way. Oh, and a rum swizzle! This is very reasonably priced at $45 per person and the tour guides are great. We were on a boat piloted by the youngest Captain on the island who started driving boats at the age of 4 – he is a little older than that now!
Don’t like mini-golf? What’s not to like – our very sceptical visitor was a convert after the first six holes, or was that just because each set of six ended up at the bar?

Turtle

Turtle

Day 6: Tobacco Bay for an early snorkel – before 10:30 the visibility is best as after that people kick up sand and you have to go further out in order to see the big fish. Then take a walk to the end of the little promontory with a can of drink and sit watching the parrot fish around the rock towers. That brings you to around midday for lunch at Blackbeards Restaurant, just around the corner overlooking Achilles Bay. I would highly recommend the scallops wrapped in bacon. Sun cream and hat are vital here if you want to sit and look out at the sea while you eat.

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Replete with lunch you take a drive to St David’s Island for a gentle walk along Cooper’s Island nature reserve. The second and third beach along from Clearwater Bay are just amazing, white sand, unspoilt, turquoise sea, everything that’s good about Bermuda.

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Then to cap this day off I suggest a Sunset Cruise. Our last visitors went with AnaLuna Adventures and they asked me to give the company five stars in the TripAdviser Review – they sailed to Flatts Inlet, swam around the island there and then off into the sunset with champagne. Idyllic.

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Day 7: This is where you have some choices to make : shopping in Hamilton, any of the museums, a wander in the Botanic Gardens or perhaps a walk along the railway trail at Baileys Bay. It is your last evening so a meal out perhaps? We enjoyed a relaxed meal at La Trattoria, good choice on their menu, and attentive wait staff (my husband suggested that was down to having two beautiful young ladies with us, but whatever, they were fun).

Day 8: A brief trip to the Zoo/Aquarium (it still isn’t fully open yet but at least what they have done is looking very good, much better displays than previously) and then drive into St George for the Ducking Stool at 12:30. Note this doesn’t happen on Friday or Sunday so you may need to shift days around. It was pouring with rain when we went this week, but the Town Crier announced that he wouldn’t let a bit of rain prevent the wench from getting what she deserved! So we all got soaked in one way or another.
End the week with a bacon butty and glass of wine looking out across the water.

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Prescription: Seven day course of treatment. Repeat often, prn (when required) with food and wine.

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Relatively Speaking

Our first visitor has just returned to UK and I think I’d be right in saying we are all tired, but happily tired 🙂

Given my relatives, I wasn’t too surprised that immigration took them aside into a separate room… the problem? That she didn’t know our address and so the blank immigration form was rejected. Lesson learned : make sure visitors have your address and warn them about free alcohol on the plane. I have a feeling the second element will need relearning.

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The airport here is small – one of those where you walk down the steps onto the runway straight into the elemental weather, which is usually windy.
Therefore the idea of a plane queuing to land seems odd, but they are apparently updating the radar which means a plane may have to circle several times before coming in, so much so that a few planes recently have arrived without passenger luggage – it was booted off to allow extra fuel for this process. The green/red channels of customs have only just been introduced, along with automated duty machines – the queues here are evidence of the fact that Bermuda depends upon its duties for income, you will pay 25% of the value if it is going to remain on the island – presents up to $30 are allowed, so that still allows you to bring me quite a bit of Cadbury’s chocolate.

So, having retrieved my relative, we drove (slowly of course) back home.
“Why are they beeping at you?”
” Are you going too slow?”
The car horn has many uses in Bermuda:
To say hi to your friends, in cars or pedestrians
To say thank you – for anything and everything
As you pull away from a junction
Taxis beep other taxis
Mopeds beep other mopeds
Trucks beep other trucks
Actually, you are a car, why not beep other cars
In short, the “toot” is a word with many meanings
And I have no idea why they are beeping me!

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The beach is an obvious destination and we visited 6 (the are more than 30)
And I learnt to snorkel – I am quite proud of that as I hate putting my head under water even though I like swimming, and I am not too keen on being out of my depth – snorkeling requires both. It is worth the initial panics though.
The water is clear and the sand white/pink so it is easy to see the fish and there are lots of them. Doctor fish are similar to but not the same as Surgeon fish – different spots and stripes – those are obviously the common names. I can’t recall the proper names – clearly I need to visit the aquarium again. When I googled “doctor fish” it came up with something completely different – those fish you find in health spas which nibble at your feet.

Bermuda has two cave systems open to the public, at a price that sets slightly unrealistic expectations, Crystal Cave and Fantasy Cave. They are impressive, but it is the story of their discovery that is most interesting – two boys playing cricket lost the ball and decided to follow it down the cleft behind the hedge with a paraffin lamp that gave out, leaving them in the dark for over an hour. The usual lesson on stalagmites and stalactites, please don’t touch, and the inevitable turning off the torch – it was fun, more so because we had arrived early before the cruise ship passengers, and so we had a private tour!
Don’t risk the cafe here though, the prices are not justified and the burgers slightly dubious.

So far we have sampled several of the island eating places, some $$ and some $$$, (I don’t think they do $)
I have uploaded my reviews onto Trip Adviser, as I have found it quite a useful site for holiday planning – and according to Facebook notifications so do lots of other people.
Fish is a menu staple, and they offer far more than the standard UK options (where salmon is now an ordinary fish and choosing cod makes you feel guilty)
I like Wahoo – probably best described as a meet eater’s fish.
Rockfish is good too, but be aware there are many different fish with that name so it won’t always have the same texture or flavor even in the same restaurant.
You have to taste the fish chowder – again each place makes it slightly differently and so far the first I ever tasted was the best, but that may have more to do with the situation than the soup. Say yes to the Sherry Peppers and Rum – they go in the soup.

So we reached the end of the relative’s holiday, add on a plane delay and a faulty boarding pass (you might now be able to guess which of my relatives it was) and I have returned home to some housework – afraid it still has to be done, even in Paradise.

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Gibb’s Lighthouse

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The hiking guide informed “it affords a panoramic view of the archipelago”
So off we set….
Maybe it was a mistake to park the car at, and hence begin the walk from the lighthouse itself – I needed a reminder that lighthouses are usually placed on a hill and if we started there then we had to end there – uphill all the way back!

But we are not totally daft and we had delayed the walk until early evening, hopefully cooler (a tiny bit) and, given it was the first walk for an embarrassingly long time, we chose the short circuit of 3km. Yes, it sounds very short but at 26C and 86% humidity, trust me its long enough.

There seems to be just one hiking book for Bermuda, that by Cecile Davidson, a local, published locally and available almost everywhere. Of the 20 walks, this was no 5, classed as moderate. Those who know me will already realize I am not the fittest person around, but I can walk comfortably about 6 miles in UK, unless it’s raining and I have a small paddy in the hope of reducing it to “round the block”. Here I need to recalibrate myself – humidity is harder than rain, ignoring for now the similarities, and the views worth stopping to appreciate occur every three steps. So the “moderate” “short circuit” walk was more than enough for a Saturday evening in June and there were a few moments when I wondered if we had been rather optimistic.

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What did we see?
Part of the Railway Trail, St Anne’s Church from 1716, Church Bay, Tribe Road Nos 2 and 3 …
Oleander, Prickly Pear, Hibiscus, butterflies and lizards, a female bluebird, ….
Makes a change from the usual muddy field with cows!

You have to laugh a little at the “Queen’s View Plaque” where reportedly in 1953 on a state visit the Queen (Elizabeth II) stopped to take a look. I suspect she might have stopped more to get her breath after climbing Gibb’s Hill, but it doesn’t have the same ring about it “Breathless Point”

Would I recommend the walk – I enjoyed it and the views across Little Sound to Great Sound and of Dockyard and Hamilton are definitely camera-worthy. But it rather depends on if you are here for a week or a year – there are more amazing things to do if only a week, but if here longer and you find a quiet cool evening then yes it is worth the time.

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