THE SOURCE OF MANY MYTHS AND STORIES, BERMUDA’S SIGHTS ARE VERITABLE LEGENDS COME TRUE. If you had never visited a beach with pink sand, would you believe such a thing existed? Or how about wondrous underground lakes and caves that reach far below into the sea floor? Explore Bermuda and you’ll find not only these but many other sights that could have been lifted straight from a fantasy tale. Perhaps that’s why Bermudian folklore is rife with rich tales of adventure, romance, magic and superstition. But one can’t deny that there is indeed something magical about Bermuda. This 21-square-mile archipelago has more than 500 years of history that are still palpable through the many sites that remain open to the public. Bermuda prides itself on the preservation of its heritage sites. Historic buildings, primeval marshes and forests, and even entire villages remain as unspoilt as possible. And that’s just what’s on land. Below the surface of the ocean, some of the healthiest reefs thrive and teem with sea life that you can view up close, as well as numerous shipwrecks that have now been claimed by their marine resting places. AU NATUREL Upon arriving in Bermuda, the first thing that will impress you is its natural wonders. The beaches take top prize, of course, but the rest of the landscape is equally breathtaking. There are a number of nature preserves to visit on the island, all offering distinct experiences where you can see the endemic flora and fauna along the walking trails. Amongst these is Gilbert Nature Reserve, in Sandys Parish near Somerset. It has five acres of walking trails and flourishing specimens of Bermuda cedar trees. This type of cedar was once prevalent on the island, but a blight of scale insects that began in the 1940s nearly extinguished the population, and with it, several animal species that depended on it; surviving trees have proven resistant and are part of a carefully monitored restoration program. Nearby is Heydon Trust, a 43-acre property with well-cared gardens where you can visit one of the oldest churches on the island. More like a chapel, this tiny house of worship was built in the 1620s and continues to offer services from Monday to Saturday. Farther east, you can visit Warwick Pond, a nine-acre preserve that has the second largest freshwater pond in Bermuda. Closer to Hamilton is Paget Marsh, which comprises 25 acres that display the island’s ecosystem as it was centuries ago. Largely a peat marsh, an elevated boardwalk takes visitors through various habitats, giving a first-hand glimpse to how the island was when settlers arrived. This and Spittal Pond Nature Reserve, on the south coast of Smith’s Parish, offer great bird-watching. The latter is 64 acres through wetlands along the south shore, hosting a variety of resident, migratory and rare birds. It is also the site of the oldest evidence of human activity on Bermuda. Along the coastal path, look for Portuguese Rock. Formerly called Spanish Rock, this slab of limestone features the carved initials “RP” and the date “1543.” Long believed to have been inscribed by Spanish sailors, research has revealed that it was actually Portuguese mariners who arrived here after their ship crashed against the reefs. They spent a few months on the island, building another ship that they used to reach Puerto Rico — this rock being their humble yet bold claim on behalf of the king of Portugal (Rex Portugaliae, or RP). In Hamilton Parish, you can visit Walsingham Nature Reserve, more commonly known as Tom Moore’s Jungle. Encompassing about 12 acres, this privately owned land is open to the public and offers some of the most interesting hikes in Bermuda. Its popular name derives from the famous Irish poet Thomas Moore, who lived in nearby St. George’s for three months in 1803 and often wrote under a calabash tree on this property. The main attraction is the Blue Grotto, a large limestone pond with deep blue water. This area of Bermuda harbours an extensive system of limestone caves. Many small ones can be seen from the trails here, but for a more controlled and safe descent into the darkness, you’ll want to visit Crystal Caves and Fantasy Caves, in nearby Bailey’s Bay. Crystal Caves opened in 1907 after two children stumbled upon the cave system looking for a cricket ball. In Fantasy Cave, startling white crystal formations are brought to life with a stunning guided tour through a floating walkway above the underground lakes. Other caves accessible to the public are Prospero’s Cave and Cathedral Cave, both beneath the Grotto Bay Beach Resort. These also hold beautiful underground lakes, and you may even take a swim in them. Another way to commune with nature whilst learning about the area’s history, flora and fauna is on a walking tour. Don’t miss the Bermuda Railway Trail, a walking trail and bridle path divided into seven sections that each take a few hours to walk. It follows the old rails of the former local train service, which ran from 1931 to 1948. Along the way, hikers can enjoy the native flora, scenic views and warming sun. You can also join locals for an informal six- or seven-mile jaunt on Sunday mornings with the Walking Club of Bermuda. Whilst this is primarily an exercise club, Members range from doctors to directors of art galleries, so you’ll be in good company with locals who are willing to share details about the island to those who show an interest. Bring your water bottle, sunscreen and walking shoes. Find a schedule at walk.free.bm. NATURE ON DISPLAY Beyond the hiking trails and selfguided nature tours, you can have a closer look at Bermuda’s environmental makeup through various institutions and venues. Just at the east entrance to Hamilton, you can experience the wonders of the sea at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI). This world-class museum concentrates on marine ecosystems, with sophisticated multimedia demonstrations that bring visitors into the depths of the ocean. Particularly fun for children, every nook of the museum is meant to teach and enrich. “The more information visitors have about the ocean environment, the more we are able to protect it,” says Director Wendy Tucker, daughter of famed undersea archaeologist Teddy Tucker, whose many recovered artefacts from years of exploring the wrecks around Bermuda are on display here. You can also learn about the local wildlife by visiting the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ) located at 40 North Shore Road in Flatts Village. Founded in 1926, it is one of the oldest continuously operating aquariums in the western hemisphere. Focusing on the ecology of Bermuda and the impact man has had upon it since his arrival, its exhibits include native fish, local reptiles, pink flamingos and a giant replica of a living coral reef. In Hamilton, you may want to take a rest or a leisurely stroll through Par-la- Ville Park, a surprising oasis amid the capital city’s business district. In addition to the various flora and gorgeous landscaping that undulates via multiple staircases, you’ll see large rubber trees in the entrance, which were brought from Guyana and planted in 1857. Mark Twain is said to have marvelled at these enormous trees upon his first visit here. For more communing with nature, visit the Botanical Gardens (in Paget Parish) the largest public garden in Bermuda, where you can view hundreds of flowers, trees, and shrubs amongst a number of horticultural exhibits. On the grounds is also Camden, the official residence of the premier, which has an additional rose garden. However, the true destination to see roses in Bermuda is Waterville, an estate that dates back to 1725. It was once the home of the Trimingham family, who established department stores in Bermuda beginning in 1842. Today, this is the headquarters of the Bermuda National Trust, a nonprofit that preserves natural, architectural and historic sites. Guided tours of the home and gardens are often combined with walking tours of the nearby Paget Marsh, giving a complete and thorough look at the evolution of life on Bermuda. Farther east, in Devonshire Parish off the South Road, is Palm Grove, a private estate whose gardens are open to the public. It is so named for the large variety of palms in existence here, but the centrepiece of the garden is a massive lily pond that has a grassy basrelief map of Bermuda at its centre. In St. George’s, you’ll find a number of small gardens, parks and cemeteries. Don’t miss Somers’ Garden. This tranquil spot in the middle of town contains various marked species of plants, but it is more famous for being the final (partial) resting place of Admiral Sir George Somers. According to legend, he loved Bermuda so much that he requested to be buried there. But when he died in 1610 on his way to the island from Jamestown, his nephew only fulfilled part of Somers’ request; he buried his heart in Somers’ Garden but sent his body back to England in a barrel of rum. Near St. George’s in Ferry Reach, make sure to visit the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS). This working research station, founded in 1903, has a state-of-the-art research vessel and is world renowned for its ongoing oceanographic studies. You can tour the laboratories and campus on select days, and even the research vessel when it is docked, and learn about the active research that is being conducted on Bermuda’s undersea ecosystems. A STEP BACK IN TIME Whilst Bermuda’s natural attractions give one glimpse into life on the island, the exploration of Bermuda’s heritage isn’t complete without visiting the homes, buildings and forts that have witnessed the growth of this British Overseas Territory. A large portion of these sites are found in the historical Town of St. George. Near where the original settlers of Bermuda arrived, St. George’s was the territory’s capital until 1815. One of the oldest homes in Bermuda is State House. Built in 1620 as a home for the House of Assembly, this building has been rented to a Masonic lodge since 1815 for the annual price of one peppercorn. In Broad Alley, you’ll find the Old Rectory, a cottage built in 1699 that exemplifies the architecture of the day. However, it may be more well known for the harpsichord-playing ghost who haunts it. The rectory, however, may be viewed only from outside, so chances are that you will not see or hear the phantasm. Nearby on Church Folly Lane is the Unfinished Church, a massive Gothic structure that was meant to replace the aging St. Peter’s, Their Majesties Chappell, which was considered beyond repair. Construction began in 1874 but was halted numerous times because of financial difficulties and dissent within the clergy. Finally, in the 1920s, a hurricane damaged the structure enough to abandon the project altogether. Remaining funds were used to restore St. Peter’s. Until recently, one could enter the church, but it was closed indefinitely in 2010 because its weathered masonry posed imminent risk to visitors. However, it is still viewable from the outside and is not to be missed. East from the Unfinished Church is Fort St. Catherine & Museum, towering over the beach where Bermuda’s first settlers washed ashore in 1609. This 19th-century fortification houses a museum with military exhibits and weapons collection. Visitors can also see historical exhibits at the World Heritage Centre at Penno’s Wharf, which offers an orientation gallery, the Gateway to Bermuda exhibit, and other exhibits, providing a walk-through of Bermuda’s early history, from the Age of Discovery to the U.S. Civil War. In Smith’s Parish, you’ll find Verdmont, an example of Georgian architecture still in pristine condition. Built around 1710, virtually no structural changes were ever made, and it remains without any electricity or plumbing. Famous for its antique furnishings, the house is filled with lavish Bermuda cedar artefacts and fine period pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries. In the city of Hamilton, make sure to stop by the Bermuda Historical Society Museum to get a full dose of Bermudian history. Located on Queen Street, this museum complements the exhibits in St. George’s with artefacts from the life of Admiral Sir George Somers. Whilst on Queen Street, pop in at the Perot Post Office, headquarters of 19th-century Postmaster William B. Perot, who produced the first Bermudian postage stamp. Only 11 of these “Perot Provisional” stamps are known to exist, and each is worth more than $100,000. As you make your way through Hamilton, you’ll see Sessions House, an 1819 Georgian building with a striking clock tower and façade. The House of Assembly and Supreme Court currently meet here, but you may tour this active landmark. On Church Street, you may also visit City Hall and Arts Centre, one of the most refined buildings in the city. The all-white building with a clock tower is home to the Bermuda National Gallery, which provides temporary and permanent art exhibits to all visitors free of charge. In nearby Paget Parish, you can see more art at The Masterworks Foundation and Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. Housed in a 19th-century former arrowroot factory, the institution is home to over 1,400 works of Bermudainspired art by such famous names as Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keeffe. It also hosts an Artist in Residence programme that spotlights international artists. The museum is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Towards the South Road in Southampton Parish, you’ll see the distinctive cast-iron Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. Opened in 1846, the 117-foot-tall structure continues to operate to this day, and its spotlight can be seen 40 miles out and by planes 10,000 feet above. The 185 stairs to the top are challenging, but the panoramic views of Bermuda are well worth the effort. In Sandys Parish, Scaur Hill Fort and Park affords visitors majestic views of Great Sound and Ely’s Harbour. The British Army built the fort from the 1860s to the 1880s to protect against feared American attacks. The park is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In the West End, make a day trip to The Keep, the largest fort in Bermuda, at Royal Naval Dockyard. After the American Revolution, Royal Naval Dockyard became the headquarters of the British Navy in the western North Atlantic. It now houses shops, cafés, recreation, attractions and the National Museum of Bermuda, located within The Keep. It is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children under 13. This museum is home to the most extensive collection of maritime and other artefacts. (234-1418, bmm.bm) AppBermuda Website: appbermuda.com Get the most out of your Bermuda vacation by downloading the island’s premier travel app written by Bermudians. AppBermuda is an up-to-date, offline guide containing all the information needed to experience the best that Bermuda has to offer. Whether you’re planning ahead or need to know now, AppBermuda covers it all: accommodations, activities, attractions, dining, transportation and background information on everything Bermudian. Available for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android. The Bermuda Perfumery Stewart Hall, 5 Queen St., St. George’s Tel: 293-0627 / 1-800-527-8213 (toll-free in U.S. / Canada) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: lilibermuda.com The Bermuda Perfumery welcomes visitors to its location in St. George’s. Since 1928, the Perfumery creates and blends fine fragrances for women and men under the brand Lili Bermuda. Come for a unique olfactory experience and to discover how perfumers create fragrances. During the summer Lili Bermuda will enchant you with its new fragrances and complementary bath line. Lili Bermuda’s line of unique fragrances is the perfect gift for yourself and your loved ones. Lili Bermuda’s fragrances are exclusively available in Bermuda. They are open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in summer, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the winter. Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI) 40 Crow Lane, Hamilton (on East Broadway) Tel: 292-7219 E-mail: email@example.com Website: buei.org Explore two floors of exciting interactive exhibits. BUEI is designed for visitors of all ages to learn about the importance of preserving the world’s oceans. The beautiful Jack Lightbourn Shell Collection is one of the finest shell exhibits anywhere in the world. The Teddy Tucker Shipwreck Gallery transports you to the mysterious undersea world of shipwrecks, artefacts and valuable relics. Step into a shark cage if you dare and experience the thrill of an attack by this predator and leave without a scratch. “Dive” into the abyss in their virtual submersible without getting wet. A once-in-a-lifetime journey of adventure is waiting for you at BUEI. Dolphin Quest National Museum of Bermuda Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandys Tel: 234-4464 / 1-800-248-3316 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: dolphinquest.org Dolphin Quest is a place where you can swim with beautiful dolphins in their ocean-water safe haven, within the old stone fortress now home to the National Museum of Bermuda, one of the world’s most extraordinary naval history museums. Feel the thrill of a lifetime as you touch, swim with and even kiss a dolphin. Enjoy a wide range of encounters for adults, children, families and groups. Dolphin Quest is open daily all year round from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Reserve your encounter online or by phone. Elbow Beach Cycles Ltd. At Elbow Beach Bermuda Resort & Spa 60 South Shore Rd., Paget Tel: 296-2300 E-mail: email@example.com Website: elbowbeachcycles.com Why follow the crowd when you can discover Bermuda’s hidden coves and dazzling pink-sand beaches for yourself? And in high style. Pick from the island’s newest and most advanced rental fleet, and then put yourself in the laid-back island mood with their industry-leading YouDrive™ tuition. For the widest choice of gas scooters, electric scooters, hybrid electric bikes and mountain bikes, and the most reassuring safety record on the island, book online or call today. Excellence Famous Homes and Hideaways Cruise Tel: 238-0663 / 238-2193 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: famoushomesandhideaways.com Excellence offers the most informative and highly entertaining sightseeing cruise in Bermuda. Their tour will give you a wealth of researched historical facts as well as lots of humorous stories about the island. Learn about Bermuda’s history and see over 50 points of interest. Cruise along the shoreline to view homes of the rich and famous, such as Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Eugene O’Neil and William Denslow. Cruise by the home where John Lennon spent his last summer in “paradise” in 1980. Discover tranquil hideaways only accessible by boat. Whilst on board, enjoy a Bermuda Rum Swizzle or Dark ’n’ Stormy from the cash bar. Also, an assortment of beer, soda and water are available. LadyBoats Tel: 236-0127 E-mail: email@example.com Website: ladyboats.com See breathtaking views of Bermuda’s shoreline whilst cruising in total luxury. Celebrate weddings, anniversaries and birthdays like never before. Invite a couple hundred of your closest friends, or keep it intimate with just you and someone special. LadyBoats may be the largest and most experienced charter company in Bermuda, but the staff of the family-owned and -operated fleet still believe it is the personal touch that counts. Let them work for you. MV Venetian Tel: 704-3000 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: venetian.bm MV Venetian is luxuriously equipped to ensure that any event, ranging from a private social soiree to a fancy corporate affair, is a spectacular success. Lavish, well-appointed staterooms and state-of-the-art communication systems provide the perfect setting for a relaxing day cruise or an overnight voyage. The well established catering service offers the finest cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, supported by the best crew available in Bermuda. Oleander Cycles Cockburn Rd., Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandys Tel: 234-2764 E-mail: email@example.com Website: oleandercycles.bm Bermuda’s No. 1 scooter livery offers quality scooters at competitive rates. You will receive five-star service and a safety demonstration with their friendly staff. Oleander’s reputation is the best in Bermuda and has been earned since opening in 1964. They have locations at each end of the island in Dockyard and St. George’s, plus two in the centre of the island, including Hamilton and Paget. Free delivery or transportation via their courtesy vans to and from your hotel is available no matter where you are on the island. They are open seven days a week. They accept cash; however, a major credit card is also required. The World Heritage Centre Penno’s Wharf (next to Penno’s Cruise Ship Terminal), St. George’s Website: stgeorgesfoundation.org The World Heritage Centre offers a bright, welcoming space with a large reception desk. Visitors can proceed to the orientation gallery, the Gateway to Bermuda exhibit, and upstairs to more exhibits and the theatre. Large photo installations illustrate the splendours of St. George’s and its fortifications. The centre provides a walkthrough of Bermuda’s early history from the Age of Discovery to the U.S. Civil War. Interpretive panels and audios describe Bermuda before the English arrived, when New World explorers used Bermuda as a navigational marker, when mariners dubbed the island the “Isle of Devils” and when castaways explored its fruitful shores. Bermuda’s historic links to Jamestown and the first settlers are illustrated. There’s a scale town model based on illustrations in the 1626 John Smith map and other research, which includes the original State House, St. Peter’s, Their Majesties Chappell, stone and wood dwellings, small bridges and model ships in St. George’s Harbour and early forts. Upstairs there’s a “time tree,” interactive touchscreens featuring World Heritage Site info, fortifications, military bases and much, much more. The centre is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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