Things To Do
A combination of natural elements — the sea, island geography and climate — and a rich sporting tradition have instilled in native Bermudians a love of everything sport. That is immediately apparent to visitors looking to take advantage of beautiful surroundings and sporting infrastructure to test their limits against nature or fellow competitors.
Measuring just 21 square miles in area, Bermuda maximises the land to provide some of the best sports activity facilities in the world. From golf and cricket to sailing and jetskiing, and everything in between, Bermuda has it all.
With close proximity to New England in the U.S. and its English heritage, golf is one of the primary sporting activities in Bermuda — and one of the most promoted to visitors. The island’s fairways and greens have attracted luminaries of the sport, celebrities and even politicians — including U.S. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush — as well as numerous members of the British Royal Family and British Prime Ministers Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan and Edward Heath.
Though most of the courses are private and thus available to resort guests and members, all will accept visiting players with advance notice. A private club experience awaits visitors to Bermuda at Riddell’s Bay Golf & Country Club, located in Warwick. It holds the distinction of being the oldest course in Bermuda. Or, call a public course like Port Royal Golf Course and Ocean View Golf Course to schedule your tee time. You can also get the whole family putting around at fun miniature golf establishments, like the new Bermuda Fun Golf in Royal Naval Dockyard.
Like many former British colonies, Bermuda has a special love of cricket. Pitches may be found throughout the island, but the best time to view the sport is during the midsummer Cup Match Cricket Festival. Typically celebrated during Emancipation Day and Somers’ Day (July 30 and July 31, 2015), this event brings the entire island to a halt, as it is either attended or watched by locals, who organise festivities around it. Play takes place at either Somerset or St. George’s. There is a special Visitor Tent to welcome visitors to Bermuda — and to Cup Match.
One of the easiest ways to get some exercise and take in all the beauty of Bermuda is by running or biking through its trails. Walking and running are true pastimes in Bermuda — just ask the folks at the Walking Club of Bermuda, who every Sunday morning set out on a six-mile walk through their island’s amazing scenery. You may join them, or explore on your own. (walk.free.bm)
One easy trail to explore is the famous Bermuda Railway Trail. Following the path of the old railroad, which stopped operating in 1948, you can potentially see Bermuda from end to end, though at 18 miles, this might prove to be a challenge to do in a single day. The trail passes through historical sites, woodlands, coastline and nature reserves, making it an invigorating experience.
However, this is not the only option. Additional parks, such as Walsingham Nature Reserve, Paget Marsh, Cooper’s Island, Spittal Pond and the Arboretum offer pleasant walking and hiking trails.
If you’re a dedicated runner, you may want to consider participating in the annual Bermuda Marathon Weekend. The event features several competitions, including the invitational mile, a 10K charity walk, half-marathon, marathon and the Bermuda Triangle Challenge.
With about 100 courts on the island, options for playing tennis are many. It has been a popular sport in Bermuda since its introduction from England in the late 19th century. Most resorts feature courts available to guests, and many permit non-guests to use them. There are also public courts for hire.
Despite its small size and suburban appearance, trail riding is available. Spicelands Equestrian Centre offers beach rides daily all year. Reservations are required. All rides in Bermuda are accompanied by qualified instructors. Horses cannot be hired due to strict laws regarding riding in public areas.
Bermuda’s winds and favourable currents make it an ideal place to get your heart racing a little in the open ocean. Many tour operators and beach concessions make Jet Skis available to visitors, as well as waterskiing, wakeboarding, paddleboarding and flyboarding. But no one says you need to stay strictly on the water — you can also parasail your way above the waves to see the Atlantic Ocean from a bird’s-eye view.
A unique experience is boarding the Wild Cat, a high-speed catamaran operated by K.S. WaterSports (Thrill Adventures & Tours) that will take you on the adventure of your life as you blast your way through waves at up to 55 miles per hour.
One of the newest and most exciting adventures to come to Bermuda is flyboarding with Coconut Rockets. Fly through the air like a superhero as you’re propelled forward by water jets. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t want to miss!
Scuba diving offers a unique opportunity to view the island’s underwater bounty and the creatures that inhabit its surrounding waters. And with more than 500 years of maritime mishaps on the surrounding reefs, Bermuda holds more than 400 shipwrecks in its waters. Most popular sites are at a depth of 30 to 50 feet, and can be easily reached by boat or with an operator such as Fantasea Diving & Watersports or Blue Water Divers & Watersports, Bermuda Ltd. The best months to dive are May to October, since the temperature will be warmest at that time. In the winter, you may need cold-water wetsuits. Here are some of the most popular wreck sites to visit:
The Constellation. An American schooner that sank off the West End in 1943 carrying Scotch whisky and morphine to Venezuela during WWII, this wreck was made famous by Jaws author Peter Benchley in his novel The Deep, which was then popularised by the film starring Jacqueline Bissett and Robert Shaw.
Cristobal Colon. This Spanish luxury liner sank in 1936 off the north shore, and it is the largest of Bermuda’s wrecks, measuring almost 500 feet.
The Hermes. Creating what is arguably the most popular dive site in Bermuda, this American ship was purposely sunk in 1985 about a mile from Horseshoe Bay on the south shore after it was damaged beyond repair. It was a planned artificial reef from the beginning, thus its clean condition today.
The Vixen. Right off Somerset in the waters of Daniel’s Head, this is the one wreck that anyone, even snorkellers, can explore because it’s only half submerged in shallow waters.
Mary Celeste. Not to be confused with the infamous ghost ship, this was a blockade-runner that provided weapons to the Confederate forces during the U.S. Civil War until it sank near Church Bay on the south shore in 1864.
IN THE SHALLOWS
One thing you can do just about anywhere in Bermuda is snorkel. All you need is a mask, fins and snorkel, and you’re ready to go, since almost any beach is bound to have something to see. All of Bermuda sits on the edge of an ancient volcano, whose peaks and ridges have evolved into our magnificent coral reefs. Some of the best places to snorkel include Church Bay in Southampton Parish, and Black Bay Beach, Snorkel Park Beach and Somerset Long Bay in Sandys Parish. In the East End, you can snorkel from a protected, tranquil beach at Tobacco Bay.
At the western tip of Royal Naval Dockyard, Snorkel Park Beach makes snorkelling accessible to all ages and abilities with a beach, amenities, snorkel gear, paddleboats, kayaks and fun floats. Just offshore is a natural coral reef and sunken sailboat. To reach the outer reefs, take one of the tour boats departing from Royal Naval Dockyard, Hamilton or St. George’s. Several major resorts use tour operators who combine snorkelling with glass-bottom boat tours, catamaran cruises or some deserted-beach time.
Please help maintain the health of Bermuda’s reefs. As tempting as it looks, do not touch the coral, for the oils of human skin will infect and kill it. Also, do not use sunscreen before snorkelling, as the chemicals will damage the coral.
At Royal Naval Dockyard, you may take part in the unique activity of swimming with dolphins in a protected, safe environment. Located within an ocean-water safe haven at the National Museum of Bermuda, Dolphin Quest brings you together with these gentle creatures with several programmes that allow you to touch, swim with and even kiss the dolphins.
For another up-close-and-personal meeting with marine life, visit Hartley’s Under Sea Adventures. Using a diving helmet, venture 8–10 feet below the water’s surface and visit some friendly fish.
TOURING THE WATERS
You don’t need to be an expert seaman to explore the safe waters close to shore. Most hotel properties and even some beach concessions can rent you a kayak that can take you along the shoreline. You can also rent a Boston Whaler and similar smaller vessels that require minimum experience to operate safely. Or, try taking in the sights from a sailboat. The Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club (RHADC) offers personal two-hour or half-day sailing lessons.
Check out K.S. WaterSports (Thrill Adventures & Tours) in Royal Naval Dockyard and in the Town of St. George for thrilling Jet Ski Adventures. Sea Venture Watersports at the Fairmont Southampton and Snorkel Park Beach also offer fun and scenic Jet Ski tours.
If you’d rather skip the workout and prefer to simply enjoy the cool breeze and scenery, you can hire professionals to do all the work for you.
For a fabulous day out on the waters, check out Destiny Tours Ltd. Bermuda’s premier tour boat, the MV Destiny, is a premium glass-bottom boat tour.
For a unique tour of the island, sail with Excellence for an informative and highly entertaining Homes and Hideaways sightseeing cruise.
Exclusive Charters offers cruises aboard Holding Firm II, a 37-foot Sea Ray Express Bridge. With a fully air-conditioned cabin, bridge and enclosed seating, it can easily carry up to 20 passengers.
HOOK, LINE AND SINKER
What’s a holiday on a pristine Atlantic island without some deep-sea fishing? You know Bermuda has one of the most impressive reef systems in the world — so of course it also has some of the best fishing around! Most of the action happens in two favoured spots about 12 miles from shore, in the area known as the Challenger and Argus banks. These deep formations, which are peaks from inactive volcanoes, have created an environment ideal for baitfish, which in turn attract large game fish. Many fishing records have been set here, and you’re likely to score some yellowfin tuna, amberjack and dolphin. With some luck and lots of skill, you may even bring in a marlin! Fishing is good all year but is best from May to November when the water is warmest.
Half-day fishing charters typically include bait, light tackle and a couple hours of line time. Many leave from Royal Naval Dockyard, Hamilton or the Town of St. George.
Need help booking a tour or want further information or advice? Contact Island Tour Centre in Hamilton or Royal Naval Dockyard.