Of course you’re going to Bermuda for the beaches. But there’s much more to do on this tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean than plonk yourself on the sand.
While Bermuda is not part of the Caribbean, it shares the same history of colonial influences, pirate outlaws and distilling rum, and a similarly fascinating hinterland tucked away behind the palm trees and golden sand.
Whether you’re looking for a low-key getaway, an active island adventure or a deep dive into history, here are nine things to do to break up those beach days on Bermuda.
1. Drink Bermudian rum
The official rum of Bermuda is Goslings, used in the island’s signature drink, the Dark and Stormy (a mix of Goslings rum, ginger beer, and lime) as well as the island’s unofficial national drink, the rum swizzle (three types of Goslings rum and fruit juices stirred into a potent punch).
Even if rum isn’t your favorite spirit, Bermuda all but begs you to try one of these classics, and you’ll find them at most island pubs and hotel bars. Seek out rum-based cocktails near Castle Harbour at the historic Swizzle Inn, named after the house punch. For cocktails with a view, try the beachside bars at coves such as Tobacco Bay and Achilles’ Bay, or waterfront restaurants such as the Birdcage and 1609.
2. Eat a fish sandwich
While you may have tasted a fish sandwich before, it wasn’t a Bermuda fish sandwich. On this idyllic island, fresh catch of the day (usually a white, flaky fish, like snapper, wahoo or mahi-mahi) is fried and stacked between slices of raisin bread slathered with tartar sauce and hot sauce.
Locals know to ask for the sandwich with “the works” – usually lettuce, tomato and onion, plus extra tartar sauce on the side. The combination may sound a bit much, but you won’t regret experiencing a Bermuda fish sandwich at least once.
Planning tip: Find fine fish sandwiches at hole-in-the-wall cafes, like Hamilton’s Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy and the north shore’s SeaSide Grill.
3. View the island from on deck
Cruising away from the jagged coast on a boat trip will let you take in Bermuda’s size and topography from a new angle, and the view from the water is the same view that once greeted pirates, smugglers and the Royal Navy sailors who pursued them both.
Whether it’s a summertime “raft-up” regatta with locals – lubricated with plenty of homemade rum swizzles – or an off-season cruise enjoying the moderate winter temperatures, boating is never a bad idea while visiting Bermuda.
If you’re traveling independently, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Bermuda from the water. Sign up for a cruise on the catamaran Good Vibrations, rent a boat or jet ski from K.S. WaterSports, go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding around the bays or simply hop on a ferry for a budget-friendly cruise around the island’s perimeter.
4. Soak up history in Bermuda’s forts
Because of its strategic location in the middle of the Atlantic, the island constructed numerous fortifications over the years to protect its lands and people. There are few military threats today, but the forts offer a glimpse into the island’s history dating as far back as the early 1600s, when Bermuda was first settled (the island was uninhabited when the first Spanish sailors arrived).
You won’t have to travel far to find a fort – they’re dotted throughout the island. Popular options for a visit include Fort Scaur, Fort Hamilton, Fort St Catherine and the massive Royal Naval Dockyard.
Planning tip: You can walk around most forts for free, but on-site museums, such as the one at Fort St Catherine, charge a small entry fee. If you’re on the island during the summer, it’s best to go in the early morning to beat the heat.
5. Explore reefs and wrecks with a mask and snorkel
Just below the surface of Bermuda’s jewel-blue waters, shallow coral reefs provide a stunning underwater show featuring a diverse cast of marine life, from parrot fish and damselfish to bright soft corals and visiting turtles.
If you’re looking for just a short excursion, rent snorkeling gear at your hotel and head to Church Bay for quality snorkeling right off the beach. If you prefer to make a day of it, try a snorkeling tour with K.S. WaterSports. If you prefer not to plunge in, you can see to the bottom of Bermuda’s clear waters in many places without the hassle of getting your hair wet.
For something truly different, Hartley’s Helmet Diving offers the chance to walk under the sea about 2 miles offshore, wearing a helmet with a pumped-in air supply. Scuba diving is also popular on the island, especially around the shallower reefs and shipwrecks; numerous operators can arrange dive trips.
Planning tip: Dive Bermuda at Grotto Bay in the north of Bermuda is the top-ranked dive center on the island, offering trips to sites such as the wreck of the Pelinaion, a Greek tramp steamer that foundered on the rocks in 1939.
6. Take part in the island’s sporting scene
No matter what time of year you visit Bermuda, there’s always something happening on the sporting calendar, and it’s easy to get involved, whether by watching or participating. From the year-round attraction of golf (the island has the highest concentration of golf courses in the world) to summer’s Cup Match cricket tournament and the World Rugby Classic each autumn, Bermuda’s sports scene reflects its Commonwealth roots.
7. Dine by the sea
From elegant venues overlooking the harbor, such as Aurora or Blu, to beachfront bars where you can dine with your toes in the sand, such as Sea Breeze or Mickey’s, visitors to Bermuda will find plenty of waterfront restaurants serving dinners and lunches with a view.
You can also create your own alfresco seaside dining experience by bringing a picnic to the beach. Jobson’s Cove off Warwick Long Bay offers a tranquil setting for a romantic sunset spread or a casual pizza dinner (local pizzeria La Trattoria is a favorite for takeout).
8. Walk the railway trail
From 1931 to 1948, the Bermuda Railway was the main means of transport on the island; today, the Railway Trail extends from one end of the island to the other, offering miles of peaceful walking with sweeping views of turquoise waters. It’s a great way to explore another side of Bermuda’s natural beauty, beyond the sandy beaches.
Eighteen of the route’s original 22 miles are accessible to the public, with abandoned rail beds overgrown with vegetation opening up to undisturbed sections of rocky coastline and views of the horizon beyond.
Planning tip: Access the Railway Trail from either the Somerset or St George’s end, and bring a water bottle if walking during the hot summer months. Bermuda Lectures & Tours offers informative walking tours that explore the railway’s history.
9. Don’t forget the obvious: hit the beach!
While we know it’s super obvious, we couldn’t omit this Bermuda must-do. With more than 30 idyllic beaches spread around just 64 miles of coastline, Bermuda offers easy access to fine white sands punctuated with rosy specks of coral wherever you stay on the island.
A drive along the South Shore provides access to postcard-perfect beaches, such as Warwick Long Bay and Horseshoe Bay. If you’re looking for a more local scene, visit Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve for fewer beach chairs and more solitude.