Mark Twain once said, “You can go to heaven if you want. I’d rather stay in Bermuda.” Upon arrival on Bermuda, it’s easy to see why. Although only 21 miles long and 1.75 miles at its widest point, the island paradise boasts nearly 75 miles of impeccable coastline surrounded by sparkling turquoise waters. The sophisticated British territory, with art galleries, craft markets, and historic fortresses, is as rich in culture as it is in natural beauty—with a whole lot of pink.
In 1809, the British Navy purchased 200 acres of land to build the Royal Naval Dockyard, which was to be its largest naval facility outside of Britain. Today, it is one of Bermuda’s most visited sites. Maritime Lane runs around the far end of the dockyard, which is where to find an array of local artisans and exhibitions. Bermuda’s signature arts and crafts are referred to as Bermudiana, which consists of everything from handcrafted jewelry and cedarwood trinkets to miniature ceramic cottages and polished sharks’ teeth set in 14-karat gold.
Visit the Bermuda Arts Centre, Bermuda Clayworks, Dockyard Glassworks, Bermuda Rum Cake Company, and Bermuda Craft Market to watch local artisans hard at work perfecting their crafts. Soothing watercolor paintings that re-create the bountiful natural surroundings of land and sea are also extremely popular. Other souvenir favorites include Bermuda’s own Black Seal Rum and, of course, Bermuda shorts.
Set within a six-acre fortress at the edge of the dockyard is the National Museum of Bermuda. Visitors can explore 500 years of local history and tour historic buildings, including old munitions warehouses and the superbly restored Commissioner’s House.
Climb aboard the Dockyard Trolley Train to get a complete tour of the dockyard. Pass by sites including Lagoon Park, the Clocktower Centre, and the Royal Naval Cemetery. The cemetery is the oldest and largest of its kind. It is enclosed in a protected valley with rows of plaques, marble obelisks, and tombs paying homage to naval officers from as early as 1819. Horse-drawn carriages are another fun way to see the dockyard and its surrounding area.
Bermuda’s stunning unspoiled beauty continues to be protected by the world’s first-ever environmental laws, which date back to the 17th century. The former British colony further embraced its historical eco-movement by banning things such as car rentals and smoking in public places.
Bikers and hikers can safely explore the islands via the original Bermuda Railway Trail, a scenic path that is now restricted to bicyclists and pedestrians. Organized bike tours are a wonderful way to get in some active sightseeing while discovering various points of interest along the way.
Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital, is a charming colonial town jam-packed with historic buildings, churches, museums, galleries, and gardens. The city is easily accessible from the dockyard via the SeaExpress ferry or by a scenic drive through Bermuda’s south shore. The land route takes you across Somerset Bridge, the smallest working drawbridge in the world, first built in 1620.
Along the way, there’s an opportunity to relish breathtaking views from Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, one of the world’s oldest cast-iron lighthouses. The iconic landmark houses a small museum that highlights stories of Bermuda’s seafaring past.
Bermuda’s third major city of interest is St. George’s, the original capital, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is exceedingly well-preserved, boasting historic forts, homes, and the oldest Anglican church in the Western Hemisphere.
Located 120 feet below ground, Crystal Caves is one of the largest cave systems on Bermuda. The dramatic stalactites and stalagmites will astonish and inspire; it’s no wonder it’s one of Bermuda’s top visitor attractions.