Bermuda Trip Report
Who: 30 year old couple (without our 1 year old baby)
What: 6 days/5 night vacation
When: Beginning of July
Where: Bermuda (staying at Fairmont Hamilton Princess)
Why: because we needed a break!!
Day One: Arrival & Touring Hamilton
We said our goodbyes to our sleeping baby (that was hard!) and caught an early, but quick and easy flight out of JFK. We had no trouble at arrivals, catching a cab, or checking in to the Princess. The Princess was very nice and we were very happy we stayed in town. Originally we were booked for the Bermudiana House wing, but we were upgraded to the 7th floor of the main building (which turned out to have a MUCH nicer view). The room was spacious, with a loveseat, king bed and large patio with table & chairs. We liked the convenience of being in the city and LOVED being able to watch the harbor from our room while enjoying a cocktail (we bought rum and gingerale and mixed our own!). Every morning we would get coffee and pastries and enjoy them by the water in the courtyard of the hotel.
We did the Fodor's tour walking around the city of Hamilton -- and began to understand what a bustling city it is for an island! It is full of banking and financial services industry which gives it a very cosmopolitan character. We spotted some Bermuda shorts, climbed to the top of the cathedral and looked at the boats in the harbor.
Lunch at Hog & Penny -- a good place for our first day. We sat at the bar to plan the week ahead, the bartender was very friendly and lent us some Bermuda books he had behind the bar.
Dinner at Pickled Onion -- overrated. The view of the harbor was nice, but the service stunk, it was overpriced for what you got, and the food was so-so.
After dinner we went to the Princess' bar for a drink (this was the first and last time we did this as my Corona was $12.50 and my husband's mixed drink was $14 -- and gratutiy was tacked on of course!!).
Day Two: My 30th Birthday!! St. George, Ft. St. Catherine, Crystal Caverns and Elbow Beach
We slept in (until 730!) and then rented our moped from Smatt's (next door to the Princess). By the end of the trip I both loved and hated the moped. I loved zipping around the island with the wind in my hair. But, my butt really hurt from 5 days of sightseeing and my chin literally broke out in a rash from the chinstrap (which I don't think was ever washed).
Anyway, we took off for St. George's and were really impressed with the little city. It has a much, much different feel than Hamilton (much quieter and with more antique patina). This was the one day we got rained on, and we really got soaked before we were able to scrounge up some ponchos. Then we rode out to Fort St. Catherine, rode around the tip of the island, and then down to the Crystal Caverns. The Caverns were beautiful and unique -- highly recommended though expensive!
After lunch, we spent the afternoon at beautiful Elbow beach which was picteresque and relaxing.
Lunch at the Black Horse Tavern in St. David's -- This was a Fodors choice so we drove out of our way to go there and I was pretty excited to try it. Dissapointed. Given, it had just rained, so we couldn't sit outside which seems to be the most charming part about this out-of-the-way place that overlooks a pretty little bay. My curried conch chowder was fantastic, but I only got a cup the size of my (very small) fist for $14. My husband's hamburger got a thumbs-down rating.
Dinner at The Ocean Club -- This was my birthday dinner so we were planning to live it up, but in retrospect this turned out to be one of the better bargains for dinner we had. We took the free ferry from the Princess to the Fairmont Southhampton, which was a very pretty ride and fun too. The Ocean Club's setting is beautiful --overlooking the beach and cliffs and the food was seafood-focused with an Asian twist. We got an excellent table and were impressed with the nice wine list, friendly service and the contemporary atmosphere. AND the prices of entrees weren't really much more expensive than the previous night at the Pickled Onion. Anyway, even though we got rained on before dessert (we all had to run inside -- it was kind of fun) we had a really romantic meal with all the trimmings and overall would highly recommend eating there!
Day Three: The Dockyard, Somerset & Horseshoe Bay Beach
We rode out to the Dockyard which was a nice ride and toured the Bermuda museum and the other shops. There was a cruise ship in, but it didn't seem too busy and the Dockyard buildings were actually very beautiful. After lunch we drove through Somerset and walked around and then spent the afternoon at Horseshoe Bay Beach -- which was very busy and a bit loud -- but fun too.
Lunch at the Frog & Onion -- a nice looking pub and conveniently located. The food and beer was good - service was unfriendly (but as it turns out we have to tip her 18% anyway because its included in our bill -- so what motivation does she have to be nice - right?). Overall a good stop for lunch, but expensive for what you get.
Dinner at the Swizzle Inn -- I had low expectations for dinner at the Swizzle. My husband read they had a barbeque and was excited - but I was worried with its high-profile it would be a tourist trap with overpriced, lousy food. I was pleasantly surprised!! The bbq was FANTASTIC (Friday and Saturday night bbq highly recommended), the atmosphere was rowdy and fun and it wasn't too expensive. This might have been my best meal on the island overall maybe mostly because it was so unexpected.
Day Four: Tooling around and Tobacco Bay Beach
This day was a bit of a "free" day so we started out with a leisurely breakfast. Then we drove back up to the Swizzle Inn just because we liked it so much the night before. It was similarly good for lunch - very fun and the nachos were excellent. Afterwards we drove up to St. George and out to Tobacco Bay Beach. The beach was gorgeous surrounded by rock formations, very busy, with music playing from the nearby restaurant. We parked beyond the beach and while we were walking over decided to look around the cliffs behind the parking lot. This was a major score, because we found a little path leading through to a cave in the rocks outfitted with two beach chairs. So we sat and read our books in quiet serenity with a gorgeous view over the rocks. I went swimming and there were lots of little fish and such in the water. A great day!
Lunch at the Swizzle Inn -- fabulous!
Dinner at Silk -- This Thai restaurant in Hamilton has very hip decor, overlooks the harbor and we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset during dessert! My raw spring roll appetizer and seafood curry dinner were over-the-top fantastic!! My husband got steak and it was good. The only drawback to this restaurant were the drink prices -- SO, SO expensive!! We had a huge bill from having a total of 5 drinks!!
Otherwise, highly, highly recommended.
Day Five: Renting a Boson Whaler in Somerset
This was maybe our best day! We drove out to Somerset bridge and rented a little Boston Whaler at 10am. They were super helpful, gave us a map (which has recommendations on it about where to go and what to do) and we rented a cooler with ice and snorkel gear. It was a gorgeous day with sun sparkling on the water. We drove all around and through the bridge into the Hamilton bay, checked out all the boats and even saw a turtle. We then found a quiet little beach in the Somerset bay, parked our boat and had a picnic lunch. We snorkeled around a little island (the snorkeling was surprisingly good! We saw sea cucumbers, some really large parrot fish and a good variety of coarals) and then sat in the shallow water with tropical fish nibbling our toes. This couldn't have been better! We only rented the boat for 4 hours, but we both agreed that (if we'd brought our books) we would have loved to have rented it for 6.
There was a bit of a debacle when we returned the boat. Some other people had it lined up for rent, so they jumped on and took off before my husband realized that the moped key had fallen out of his pocket in the boat!! So there was general annoyance and running around to find a spare. But Smatt's took excellent care of us -- lent us a new moped and got us back on track with hardly any time wasted! Loved them!
We then headed back to the hotel where we felt very over-sunned, took a nap had cocktails on the deck and got ready for dinner.
Lunch at the private beach -- picnic with the fishes fabulous!
Dinner at Ascots -- Originally we were going to each beachfront at Coconuts, but after hearing they were price-fixed ($75 pp 4 courses plus drinks & 18% gratutity) I just couldn't stomach what the bill would be, plus a cab ride there and back. We wanted to have a nice dinner as it was our last night, but we also wanted to stay local mostly because our bottoms hurt from riding the moped! So we decided on Ascot's which came very highly recommended. We were unfortunatlely not able to eat outside, because they were having a private dinner party.
Anyway, overall this was a very nice dinner. There is a nice feel to the place (fancy but not formal or stuffy), and the service was impeccable. The food has a gourmet flair, and is presented beautifully. I still had a hard time with the prices, which were just a bit steep for my taste ($39-$50 for entree) -- but overall it was a romantic and relaxing meal and we didn't feel overcharged for what we got.
Day Six: Departure
We got our pastries and sat by the harbor. A Canadian navy boat went by which really got by husband excited. We caught a cab to the airport and said goodbye to lovely Bermuda.
1. Get a hotel room with a balcony. Get breakfast foods from a market (Miles Market near the Princess was good) and eat breakfast on your balcony. Same goes for cocktailing before or after dinner -- get your own at a liquor store and enjoy on balcony.
2. Rent a moped - its so much more convenient than any other transportation!
3. Rent a Boston Whaler for the day - a fantastic day!
4. Be prepared for high prices so you don't have sticker shock
We loved our Bermuda trip and found the island to have a great mix of things to do including sightseeing, opportunities for relaxation and nightlife. In addition to being beautiful, Bermuda really has a unique "personality" all its own which made it an especially charming destination. The people were friendly (especially our colorful cab-drivers) and we felt safe at all times. We were able to unwind, soak in the sunshine, enjoy some romantic dinners and all around enjoy ourselves immensely.
That said, we will probably not go back. I'm very glad we went...we really had a wonderful time and appreciated Bermuda for its gorgeous scenery and unique character. However, it was painfully expensive (so painfully expensive that it was hard to appreciate a nice dinner when you knew it was costing you an arm and a leg). We are a couple who likes to stay at nice hotels and go out to fancy dinners. I wouldn't consider us cheapskates -- but the prices in Bermuda are excruciating. Even "inexpensive" restaurants are pricey, and everywhere you go everyone seems to nickel and dime you to death with fees, taxes and gratuities. Next time we go to an island, we will probably go back to St. John, which was equally beautiful (though not as unique in character) and a lot more reasonable in terms of cost.
All in all though, it was a really great trip! I really do recommend going to Bermuda (just but be sure to be prepared by bringing a wad o' money!!)
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Trip Report: 6 days baby-free in Bermuda
Bermuda Trip Report