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Although it's only 650 mi east of the United States, Bermuda seems like a world apart. Feeling at home on this oh-so-friendly archipelago, however, isn't hard. Just sample a few local pleasures and you'll be kicking back like a native "Onion" in no time.
Pretty in Pink
According to local lore, Bermuda's sand has a faint rosy hue because it's so romantic here that even the beaches blush. Scientists, conversely, contend the coloring is derived from calcium carbonate and crushed bits of coral combined with the pulverized skeletons of microscopic scarlet protozoa (Foraminifera to be exact) that thrive on the surrounding reefs. Whatever the reason, this fine sand remains a Bermuda trademark. The pink-o-meter hits highest along the south shore, where "blushing beaches" include Horseshoe Bay (a classic curving strand) and Warwick Long Bay (Bermuda's longest expanse of sand). Other pocket-size beaches and secluded coves, though, are easy enough to find. Bermuda may only cover 21 square mi, yet the islands comprising it have a combined 75 mi of coast, so wherever you stay the beach is never more than a mile away.
The Long and Short of It
When it comes to the island's most recognizable symbol, Bermuda shorts might trump the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Originally part of a military uniform, the garment is a source of amusement to visitors—and a matter of national pride to natives. Elsewhere the term "Bermuda shorts" is loosely applied to any casual knee-length shorts. The real ones here are characterized by their fabric and tailoring (linen or wool blends, hitting 2 inches above the knee). Worn by businessmen with kneesocks and a blazer, they're considered the smartest of attire. If you want to join the local fashion and flash a little leg, just be sure to play by the rules. Rather than going for the seersucker-and-sandals look, get outfitted at a traditional retailer—like the English Sports Shop on Front Street in Hamilton, where genuine Bermuda shorts start at $50.
A Perfect Match
On the Thursday and Friday before the first Monday in August, Bermuda takes a two-day holiday ostensibly to let residents watch the Cup Match: an annual cricket game pitting the West End against the East End. Locals clearly take the event seriously. Cup Match fever, for instance, takes hold weeks in advance when team colors start flying from houses and vehicles island-wide. But Cup Match is also an excuse for some serious partying. While the players concentrate on whacking a leather ball through a wicket, the spectators generally focus on fun. Pulsating music, outrageous fashions, and delectable foods (anyone for mussel pie?) add to the carnival-like atmosphere. The Bermuda government even relaxes its antigambling laws so that locals can indulge in Crown & Anchor, a betting game first brought here by British sailors in the 19th century.
The Beat of a Different Drum
Bermuda has its own musical mélange that embraces both British and African traditions. Sample the former when the Bermuda Regiment's brass-and-drum corps "Beat Retreat." The pomp-filled sunset ceremony—a military staple since the 1700s—usually runs at least once a month in rotating venues around the island. Red coats and pith helmets are replaced by peacock-color capes and mile-high headdresses when local Gombey troupes take center stage. The hypnotic dancers and drummers, whose distinctive style dates back to the days of slavery, pop up unexpectedly November through March; however, you'll see them at a revue held Tuesday afternoons in Hamilton's No. 6 Passenger Terminal. Other months, you can catch them in action on Wednesday during the city's Harbour Nights festivities.
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