City Guides

Bermuda: What to See & Do

A local’s guide to exploring Bermuda

Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

Ready to scoot.

Where to Shop

Bermuda Bookstore
This almost century-old shop is a wooden-floored mecca for Bermudaphiles. While you’ll find a full slate of new fiction, it carries the island’s best collection of local editions—from histories to spooky Triangle tales—and the well-read staff will steer you right. 3 Queen St., Hamilton;

Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

Pith helmets at the English Sports shop.

The English Sports Shop
Sure, you can find so-called Bermuda shorts at any haberdashery or online retailer these days. But for the real deal, don’t miss this Front Street stalwart, which also has branches in St. George’s and the West End. It offers a virtual rainbow of linen-blend shorts, along with the requisite blazers and everything else for dapper island gents. 49 Front St., Hamilton; 441-295-2672

Gosling’s Dark and Stormy reputation dates back 200 years, and the company’s Black Seal rum remains one of Bermuda’s few exports. Today, seventh-generation members of the Gosling family run several retail outlets, including this landmark emporium. Jovial manager Andre “Deucey” DeSilva can recount the brand’s colorful history and point you to the $68-a-bottle wooden-boxed Family Reserve—aged over two decades in oak barrels. 33 Front St., Hamilton;

Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

Spittal Pond reserve.

What to See & Do

Bermuda National Trust Museum
Spies and subterfuge inhabit the museum’s permanent exhibit, Rogues & Runners: Bermuda and the American Civil War, which helps explain the critical but little-known role the island played in the conflict when Confederate blockade runners used the town of St. George’s as a depot for smuggling “white gold” and munitions past patrolling Yankee gunboats. Globe Hotel, 32 Duke of York St., St. George’s;

Big Fish Bermuda
Father-and-son team Alan and Ian Card weren’t kidding when they named their outfit Big Fish. Over the years, they’ve hauled in thousands of pounds of island records, including a 1,199-pound blue marlin and a 782-pound bluefin tuna. If you want a shot at your own blue-water monster, there’s no better place than aboard their forty-footer, Challenger.

Hall of History
If the grandeur of its spectacular location at Bermuda’s western tip doesn’t impress, the scale and detail of Bermudian Graham Foster’s 1,000-square-foot mural will. The artwork, painted over three and a half years, covers five centuries of the island’s past, from shipwrecked Spanish of the 1500s to Hamilton’s modern-day insurance towers.
Commissioner’s House, National Museum of Bermuda, Sandys;

Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art
Opened in 2008 in the pastoral peace of the Botanical Gardens, the MMBA houses a stunning collection of art from luminaries past and present who found their way to Bermuda. The permanent collection includes some 1,300 works, such as Georgia O’Keeffe’s Banyan Tree Trunk and Winslow Homer’s Inland Water. 183 South Rd., Paget;

Railway Trail
Once the railbed for a short-lived train of the 1930s and ’40s dubbed Old Rattle and Shake, this sylvan 18-mile stretch runs almost the entire length of the island. Runners, walkers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders enjoy the shady escape it offers from trafficked main roads, and the natural scenery—farmers’ fields, seascapes, cherry and loquat forests—gives a snapshot of behind-the-scenes Bermuda.

Spittal Pond Nature Reserve
Binocular-wielding bird-watchers love this 64-acre coastal reserve for sightings of rare migrants like swallow-tailed kites, black-bellied whistling ducks, or the Louisiana waterthrush. Another highlight is Portuguese Rock and its views. It was here in the Age of Exploration that a group of castaways climbed to safety and inscribed their initials in the soft limestone, now preserved in a bronze cast. South Road, Smith’s;

Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

A warm welcome at the Mandarin.

Where to Sleep

Mandarin Oriental Elbow Beach
Commanding a pristine swath of beachfront, the centrally located Mandarin Oriental has 50 acres of gardens, sleekly renovated cot-tages with turquoise views, a first-
rate spa, and a chic surfside bistro, Mickey’s, whose runway-ready staff and Mediterranean menu make you feel as if you might be in Monte Carlo or Marseille. 60 South Shore Rd., Paget;

The Reefs
While several Bermuda hotels have shut their doors in recent years, this South Shore resort’s unfailing reinvestment has kept the guests coming. It sits atop limestone cliffs, an ultra-private beach and stone’s-throw reefs tucked below. Locals flock here, too, for the luxe spa and Sunday brunch. 56 South Shore Rd., Southampton;

Royal Palms
Once a turn-of-the-century estate, this 32-room salmon-pink beauty still has the aura of an intimate country manor house. Though it’s within easy walking distance of Hamilton, the gorgeous gardens overflowing with bougainvillea, birds of paradise, and citrus feel like a hidden sanctuary. 24 Rosemont Ave., Pembroke;