Kristin White 2017-05-02 09:44:00
THIS TOUR COMPANY'S WINTER OFFERINGS SHOWCASE A LESSER-SEEN SIDE OF BERMUDA. Three years ago, Ashley Harris turned her lifelong passion for the outdoors into one of Bermuda’s top-rated tour companies. Hidden Gems takes visitors — and residents! — off the beaten path, creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for them to explore Bermuda’s natural environment in unique and adventurous ways, and since its inception has consistently garnered five-star ratings. In the summer months, the Hidden Gems excursion sees guests spelunking through caves, trekking through the jungle and snorkelling Bermuda’s coral reef. “But Bermuda is beautiful all year round!” Harris exclaims. Indeed, the island is a paradise from January through December, but with temperatures lower in the winter months, many visitors are wary of entering the ocean. “Even though many don’t want to go swimming at that time of year, there’s still so much to see and experience,” she continues. “I wanted to show off Bermuda’s ‘hidden gems’ on land, and so developed two winter excursions.” Harris’s interest in history and a family connection with Bermuda’s fort expert, Dr. Edward Harris, executive director of the National Museum of Bermuda, led her to increase her knowledge of Bermuda’s military history. The Forts Tour is held twice a week between November and April and provides explorers with an islandwide tour and takes in the sights of some of Bermuda’s lesser-known forts, including Alexandra Battery in the East End and Fort Hamilton in the city. “These incredible fortresses are so impressive, but they aren’t on the radar for so many visitors,” she says. “I want to change that. And at these historic sites, we also look at the natural environment, the flora and fauna; so it’s a very diverse experience.” Harris’s job working in a photography shop as a teenager sparked the idea for Hidden Gems’ other winter tour. “I’ve always had a passion for photography, and in all of my tours, I’m constantly trying to help visitors get the perfect shot that captures their Bermuda experience. So it only made sense to add a photography tour. We take our guests to places they’d likely never get to on their own — spots that highlight Bermuda’s beauty in a unique way,” she describes. This tour also includes an adventurous cliff dive and swim, but Harris assures guests that this is totally optional. Each of the winter tours are five hours long and very affordable at $100 a person, including lunch. “Our winter excursions get the same rave reviews as our summer ones,” she mentions. “It’s because whatever I do with my visitors, they are getting a once-in-a-lifetime, authentic Bermuda experience. I share with them my love for my island home.”
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