Bermuda is one of those destinations that captures intrigue and brings up lots of questions. How does it compare to a more traditional trip to the Caribbean? What’s the weather like? Besides the beach, what else is there to do for families? And most importantly, does it match your vacation style?
This island may seem like a traditional tropical vacation destination, but there are many factors and perks that separate Bermuda from its beach competitors.
Contrary to popular belief, Bermuda is not located in the Caribbean. It’s out on its own in the Atlantic, roughly parallel to South Carolina. It is a quick flight from most major East Coast airline hubs (about a 90-minute direct flight from New York City, for example), making it doable as a long weekend destination for those who don’t have a full week. And according to the CDC, Bermuda is not currently a risk zone for the Zika virus. Families will need passports to visit, though, as Bermuda is a British territory.
Given its latitude, many wonder if Bermuda is warm enough to visit year-round. Travelers can expect highs in the upper 60s and low 70s November through April, and highs in the 80s May through October. Water temperature will fluctuate accordingly, so it is usually not warm enough to swim in the ocean in the winter months. But many visitors love the lower accommodation costs and flight deals in winter and spring, knowing that it is typically still warm enough to walk the beach, play golf and enjoy time outdoors. Travelers coming to Bermuda in the summer months appreciate that the island rarely experiences the stifling heat of locales like Florida and the Caribbean.
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Bermuda does not allow tourists to rent cars and drive around the island (roads are narrow, and driving is done on the opposite side, like in the UK). Despite this travel restriction, Bermuda is still easy to explore, as it’s only 21 square miles or so. It is served by a safe and reliable bus and ferry network that families love. Hiring a driver is affordable — about $40 per hour — and larger resorts often have private boat service to shuttle guests around the island. Many tourists rent scooters, but this is not advisable when traveling with children.
The universal appeal of Bermuda is its pink sand shores and irresistible, crystal-clear water. Many larger resorts have their own private beaches, but Bermuda is dotted with a number of scenic public beaches as well. Snorkelers love the reefs right off of Elbow Beach, and you can rent gear right onsite. Families with young children flock to Horseshoe Bay Beach, as the cove here makes the waves very gentle and perfect for little ones. Nature lovers will enjoy a day at Cooper’s Island Nature Preserve, not only for its pristine, undeveloped beach, but also its incredible wildlife. You can often spot whales from the observation tower here, not to mention a wide variety of bird species.
For more active families who prefer to enjoy island life on the go rather than by sunbathing, water sports are big in Bermuda. The legendary Bermuda Triangle has had its fair share of wrecks (both ships and planes), creating amazing settings for scuba diving, snorkeling and even the newest fad, helmet diving. For those who prefer to enjoy the water from above, kayak eco-tours are very popular with families, as are sailing lessons.
If you can only drag yourself away from your resort for one adventure while in Bermuda, make it an outing on a whaler boat. You can rent these independently and explore the island (and the smaller, uninhabited islands all around it) on your own, or splurge and hire a captain to take you around for a day.
What really separates Bermuda from other tropical destinations is the variety of off-beach activities. If your family loves to pair resort relaxation with family-friendly outings, it’s the perfect place. Be sure to consult cruise ship schedules in advance before setting out, though, as crowds can be overwhelming at the three major ports (Naval Dockyard, Hamilton and St. George) when the ships are docked.
Bermuda packs more golf courses per capita than anywhere else on earth, so golfers of all ages are spoiled for choice with six world-renowned courses that have hosted countless famous golfers and professional tournaments. The oceanview holes are always a thrill. Wee golfers will enjoy the miniature course at the Royal Naval Dockyard; nearby is the family-friendly National Museum of Bermuda and Dolphin Quest. Do book ahead if a dolphin experience is on the family wish list, as it fills up.
Hamilton is another town ripe for family exploration, with its zoo, aquarium, entertaining town crier tours and visits to Fort Hamilton. The fort is a must while in Bermuda; children will love the creepy underground tunnels and parents will love the fantastic views of the island and exotic tropical landscape.
If it seems as though UNESCO World Heritage sites are limited to places like Europe, the town of St. George in Bermuda defies this assumption. It was the first English town established in the New World, and its British influence is distinct. Fort Catherine, located in this part of the island, is another fun historical site for families.
One final suggestion for a family-friendly thrill: a tour of the underwater caves that dot the island. The two best are Crystal and Fantasy Caves, which both offer organized tours and experiences. Many who venture down to see the remarkably clear water and intricate geological formations say they are every bit as impressed with the views below as they are with the scenery above ground in Bermuda.
For such a tiny island, Bermuda packs a mighty punch of picturesque beaches and activities to please all ages, making it a location families return to year after year.
Editor’s Note: Photos by CMy23 except where noted.
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