Family Travel: A Short Guide to Bermuda

Bermuda can be summarized in one word: beautiful.

Here, pink sand beaches meet the brightest blue water you’ve ever seen. People are beyond friendly and helpful, eager to chat and lend a hand to the obvious visitors. The buildings are colourfully painted and, while the island has been largely developed, it is a pleasant place to explore with a wild coastline and wonderful greenery gracing the roads.

A gorgeous day at Marley Beach, Bermuda. Photo by Meghan J. Ward.

A gorgeous day at Marley Beach, Bermuda. Photo by Meghan J. Ward.

Travel here is easy, which is exactly what we were looking for on this particular family trip. We’ve done our share of backpacking and rugged travel, even with a baby, and this was meant to be care-free and relaxing. It may not have been the cheapest trip we could have taken, but Bermuda more than delivered.

Bermuda has many experiences to offer that depend on the seasons and the length of your stay. This article is by no means comprehensive. Consider these suggestions and make your trip your own! 

When to Go

Don’t confuse Bermuda with Caribbean countries where escaping winter means hot, hot sun. It is fairly far North in the Atlantic and sees cooler temperature in the winter months. That being said, it is a fantastic destination to visit in March and April, when it is still low season in terms of busyness and prices, and  you can comfortably play on the beach (the ocean is on the chilly side, but lovely!) Beach season is May to October, and in the summer months it can be very hot and humid. Demand is high and prices will also be high, but Bermuda has some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen, so it’s bound to be worth it!

The beaches were beautiful even on the stormiest of days. Photo by Meghan J. Ward.

We went mid-February to early March and while we had some cold and rainy days, we also had the opposite: beautifully warm days on the beach with a light breeze. We never had to leave the beach because it got too hot for us (key especially when you’re travelling with kids!). Not only that, but we were often totally alone on beaches, as most of the locals still find it too cold at that time of year. The only downside is that some attractions were not open, or had odd hours, such as Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse. We never did get to the top of it!

Getting Around

Live like a local and take the public buses! Bermuda has more than enough bus routes for the size of the island. And news flash: visitors can’t rent a car! So, it’s either cost-effective bus rides, or the more expensive option, taxis. I should mention that a taxi is a convenient way to get from the airport to your accommodation.

The only moderate stress we experienced was when the buses were full, usually as school was out and piles of school children climbed on. But the youngest member of our crew did extremely well with the bus system and got in the groove. The longest ride we took was from our place on the South Road to St. George’s (about an hour and 15 minutes), but it was totally manageable.

Commissioner’s House, Royal Navy Dockyard, Bermuda. Photo by Meghan J. Ward.

Bonus: bus passes include the ferries! Some ferries do not run in the off-season, but we really enjoyed taking the ferry to the Dockyards from Hamilton instead of the bus (more on that later). We opted for a month pass (these are done by calendar month) and then a book of tickets to finish off the trip.

Where to Stay/What to Eat

You’ll find accommodation options of all kinds throughout Bermuda, but for us the best set up was to rent an apartment. We found the perfect setup with The Sandpiper Guest Apartments. It was seriously too good to be true: a well kept property, suite with a separate bedroom and two double beds (essential for us when we’re travelling with a kid who goes to bed much earlier than we do!), a pull out couch for when Grammy joined us for a week, a full kitchen so that we could cook for ourselves, and housekeeping service every day (which is wonderful when you’re travelling to beaches and bringing sand home nearly every day).

Cool corner of Hamilton, Bermuda. Photo by Meghan J. Ward.

It’s not the cheapest place we’ve stayed (Bermuda, in general, is on the pricey side), but we really feel like we had the best accommodation in the best location– within a six-minute walk to two beaches, a quick bus ride from the others, and 15 minutes to Hamilton. Plus, we live in one of Canada’s busiest tourist destinations and are used to forking out more for the basics.

For food, if you have your own kitchen you can cook for yourself and you’ll find grocery stores within a quick bus ride or within 15-30 minutes walk (a great way to see the neighbourhoods). We enjoyed eating at Swizzle Inn (there are two locations, but we ate at South Shore because it was three doors down from us) and at Devil’s Isle, which is clearly a local favourite. We had a stop in at Rock Island Coffee on a rainy day and got some great coffees. It’s a good space for kids to hang out, too, with books and games. Swizzle did take-out, which we picked up on our last night for a picnic on the beach.

What to Do

Bermuda has an exciting history, various marine experiences and, of course, beaches! Here are our favourites:

Beaches

We fell in love with Marley Beach the moment we set eyes on it, and it was our favourite til the end (you’ll find it on the South Road with access down an unassuming road indicated with posts for “Southlands”). A close second was evening strolls at Surf Side Beach when the tide was low, the open expanses of Elbow Beach, the magical setting that is Jobson Cove, the shallow water at Tobacco Bay near St. George’s and the wild shores of Horseshoe Bay. You can’t go wrong, but we were there in low season and never had crowds to deal with!

Historic Sites

The Royal Naval Dockyard is a wonderful site with something for everyone to explore. The site features the National Museum of Bermuda in the restored Commissioner’s House (a museum we, unfortunately, rushed through because the little one was “done”), an exhibit called “Shipwreck Island” filled with relics discovered in the many shipwrecks around Bermuda, as well as a kid’s area called The Museum Playhouse and Playground. We took turns playing here with Maya while the other parent checked out some exhibits.

St. George’s is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a half-day trip. Originally settled in 1612, the town feels like a step into the past. We were there in low season when the entire waterfront was under construction, but still enjoyed the visit. In particular, we enjoyed exploring the replica of The Deliverance, one of two ships constructed by British sailors and colonists to complete their journey to Virginia after being shipwrecked on Bermuda. The little one (age four) was not as fascinated by the town, but loved the ship, as well as the beach and cove at Tobacco Bay, which is within walking distance with a bit of carrying from mom and dad.

Marine Life

Bermuda is home to the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, a great place to spend some time exploring, and features an outdoor playground for kids. Sticking closer to Hamilton, the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute is a truly fascinating museum for kids and adults alike (in fact, if I had to choose one over the other, I’d choose the BUEI). Maya was totally enthralled and wanted to return (unfortunately, we went there on our last full day). Both options are great for a rainy day, though you don’t want to be in a downpour at the zoo.

Other Sights and Activities

One site we didn’t visit was the Crystal Caves, but we heard great things about it. Here’s a great video that features them if you happen to miss them too!

Evening stroll at Surf Side Beach, Bermuda. Photo by Meghan J. Ward.

For more information and ideas, visit Go To Bermuda.

I’m more than happy to answer specific questions if you have any. Fire away in the comments below!

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