The Singularity of Bermuda – Caribbean
We chose Bermuda with its British past and multicultural present for our honeymoon. Bermuda is a bit off the norm. You can't camp nor drive a car, but you can rent a motor scooter. It is often lumped in with the Caribbean. A glance at a map shows it is a geographical loner. Perhaps it's this separation that leads to a more first-world atmosphere and better service than other Caribbean countries.
The singularity of Bermuda's location and its best known fashion – Bermuda shorts – is mentioned in The Royal Gazette in reference to a pre-war summit meeting between the USA, Britain and Spain. The Spanish Prime minister is quoted as saying, "Just the name of these islands suggests an item of clothing that is not exactly the most appropriate for the seriousness of the moment in which we find ourselves." Bermudians differ with this concept. They consider their knee length shorts, almost knee length Bermuda hose, short sleeve dress shirts, loafers and ties – the common dress of workers in the capital city of Hamilton – as being professionally dressed.
While our honeymoon was primarily about relaxation and celebrating our marriage, we participated in several unusual events.
Each year the Ocean Conservancy organizes a day of coastal clean up. We had participated several times in Michigan, but we figured we'd miss it, except we didn't. After an amazing experience of swimming with dolphins and peering into the water to see them swim, we heard that Dolphin Quest was participating in the Clean Up. Boom – just like that – we could maintain our coastal clean up attendance. We combed Mangrove Bay Beach picking up glass bottles, fishing debris, etc. Not surprisingly, the top item found was cigarette butts.
The next weekend we hung out on the now pristine beach and watched another singular Bermuda tradition – Fitted Dinghy racing. These 14-foot hulls carry huge amounts of canvas for tough boat handling. There are instances when boats sink while racing. That Saturday we saw the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club's Contest III win the Coronation Cup. One of the boats was from the Sandy’s Bay Boat Club which is next to the Somerset Country Squire, home of the "Somerset Arguing and Drinking Club", or so it says over the bar. Dine at this happy place on the patio, meet friendly locals, enjoy the tree frogs and generally let lose is my recommendation.
Bermuda has a fine high speed ferry system that goes to Hamilton, Dockyard, St. Georges and other locations. Unfortunately we were on board the Serenity, when a mechanical failure saw her collide solidly while coming into her berth at the Dockyard. Several injuries ensued. As a licensed EMT in the U.S., I got to observe Bermuda's fire and EMS service up close. They handled the situation skillfully and professionally. If you need emergency care in Bermuda, it will be first class.
What you hear about Bermuda being expensive is true – resorts are at $600.00 per person per night. What is less known is that apartments with a view of the Atlantic to the west and the Great Sound to the east are available for $150.00 per night. We stayed near Watford Bridge at the Watford Ferry Apartments. We had a sleeping loft, kitchen, living room and a great water view, including a convenient ferry access for the above price.
Perhaps the most egalitarian and relaxed place we found was Albouys Point, right in the center of the Hamilton waterfront. There are cruise ships, ferries, the Spirit of Bermuda… The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is located there. Inside the perimeter of all this action was a pocket park with a sign reading "Positively No Parking"; it was totally ignored. Locals discuss issues, street vendors sell souvenirs, people go about their business in a place where you would not expect it.
An interesting fact, considering the island's small size, is that Bermuda has two lighthouses: St. David’s on the east end and Gibbs Hill near the middle of the island. St. David’s is less known, while Gibbs Hill has tours, a gift shop and a restaurant/tea shop. Gibbs Hill is a massive cast iron structure that was fully assembled in London before being shipped to Bermuda. The entire time you are inside the lighthouse is a very non lighthouse experience – it's roomy, a good first visit for lighthouse rookies.
As I write, the pull that Bermuda exerted hasn't worn off. The 21-square mile group of islands got to me with the weather, unique location, friendly folks, good food and a classy aura that you get in few other destinations.