Traveler: Albert Costill
When: July 2018
Mark Twain once said, “You can go to heaven if you want to. I’d rather stay in Bermuda.”
I can see why Mr. Clemens said that. Bermuda is a beautifully stunning island where you’re surrounded by sapphire blue water, crystal skies, island vibes, history, friendly people, and rum. Lots of rum. It’s also kind of weird. It’s a British territory so there’s obviously a lot of British influence, such as cricket and afternoon tea. At the same time, there’s also a lot of Caribbean influence, but it also feels like you never left the States. After all, it’s right off the coast of North Carolina.
My sister had some work to do in Bermuda, so she decided that we do a family trip at the same time. While she was at work Uncle Al got to hang out with his nieces and nephews, aka swimming and exploring caves.
We spent a week in Bermuda. Because the flight was under two hours from Philly I don’t feel like we lost too much time traveling. We stayed at Grotto Bay Beach Resort and Spa. If you’re the type of person who is cool with staying at just the resort then this is your place. There’s three restaurants, a pool, hot tub, caves, a spa, and you can rent everything from kayaks to paddleboards. However, because the island is so small I strongly suggest you get out and explore — even if you just purchase a bus pass or find a taxi (they’re everywhere) and go for a ride.
There’s just one caveat; Bermuda is super expensive. Look to spend around $500 for the flight, as well as around $500 per night at Grotto Bay. That’s not even talking about the cost of food and drinks. Lunch for two could cost you $60 no problem.
Things to Do
Like I mentioned above, Grotto Bay is a solid resort. On top of what I already mentioned the resort also brings in live entertainment like local historians and comedians. They also have several al-you-can eat buffets throughout the week which also includes live music. On the weekends there’s a DJ and viewings of classic 80’s music videos on a projection screen.
You can also golf, play tennis, sail, snorkel, or go on a guided dive tour to check out some wrecks and coral reefs.
Settled in 1612, St. George’s was the first permanent English settlement in Bermuda, It also considered the third successful English settlement after St. John’s, Newfoundland and Jamestown, Virginia. Suffice it to say, there’s plenty of rich history here. This includes St. Peter’s (this is both the oldest surviving Anglican and oldest continuously occupied Protestant church in the entire Western hemisphere and is pictured below), the Bermuda National Trust, the Tucker House, the St. George’s Historical Society Museum, and the Unfinished Church.
Also located in St. George’s are a series of fortifications that have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, such as Fort St. Catherine and St. David’s Battery. There’s also Tobacco Bay where Bermudians helped us rebels steal some gunpowder during the Revolutionary War.
If you spend some time in King’s Square you can catch an entertaining re-enactment of 18th Century punishments for a “nagging wench” — or a bad Uncle Al!
You can actually walk the entire Town of St. George in a couple of hours because it’s pretty small. But there are trolley tours if you like.
Once you’ve taken in some history, go ahead and enjoy the restaurants and bars that St. George’s has to offer.
Hamilton is the capital of Bermuda and is home to some intriguing museums like Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art and the Bermuda National Gallery. Hamilton is also known for its pastel-colored colonial homes, shops, and Harbor Nights. This is a celebration that takes place every Wednesday night where Front Street is closed for local vendors, live music, and Gumbey dancers to gather. I picked-up a Mark Twain book where he described his first trip to Bermuda and a CD of local artists covering John Lennon (if you didn’t know, Lennon sailed to Bermuda and the trip and island influenced a number of his songs like “(Just Like) Starting Over,” “Watching the Wheels,” and “Woman”) .
I didn’t get to spend too much time in Hamilton. I hope I can go back and see where Lennon stayed, as well as visiting Gosling’s Rum.
Catch the ferry in Hamilton and head over to Dockyard. It’s a beautiful 30-minute boat ride. Then, as you arrive, you can check out the cruise ships arriving.
Because Dockyard is more on the touristy-side, you can do your souvenir shopping here if you like at the Clocktower Mall or at some artisan shops like Dockyard Glassworks. However, there’s also plenty of history here — European vessels arrived in 1609. Most notably, you can see the numerous fortifications built by the British. After all, this is the Royal Naval Dockyard.
Also in this area is the famed Horseshoe Bay where you can relax in the iconic pink sand.
Places to Eat and Drink
Located on the western part of the island, the Swizzle Inn is the oldest and most well-known pub. It was established in 1932, but built in a 17th Century roadhouse. It’s named after Bermuda’s national drink the Rum Swizzle.
What’s a Rum Swizzle? I’ll let Bob Hope explain;
“Rum Swizzle, it’s an orange slice, a lime slice, a pineapple wedge and a cherry, all floating in 8 ounces of hangover.”
The food’s pretty good too. Since it’s within walking distance to Grotto Bay, we ate here twice. The first night I had the Original Bailey’s Bay Fish sandwich — beer battered fish, tomato, melted cheddar, and tartar sauce. Yes, you read that right. Melted cheese on a fish sandwich. It worked.
The other meal was my favorite. It was a drunken chicken, which meant it was cooked in Gosling’s rum and ginger beer. It came with a salad, cornbread, and mashed potatoes. It was a special, but it should be on the menu permanently.
Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio
Wahoo’s is a delicious restaurant on the waterfront in St. George’s. In my opinion, the Rum Swizzle was better here. My dinner was another special called the Bermuda Triangle. It featured a barbecue rock lobster, grilled mahi mahi, and fried wahoo fish. On the side were rice and beans with a mango chutney dressing.
Tobacco Bay Beach Bar & Restaurant
Tobacco Bay was my favorite beach that I visited. Stop by and savor their legendary frozen Dark ‘n’ Stormy — this is dark rum and ginger beer garnished with a lime slice. This has become one of my all-time favorite drinks.
Make sure you stick around the sunset too. You won’t regret it. It’s breathtaking.
Anchor Restaurant, Bar, and Lounge
If you’re in Dockyard, you probably want to stop-by the Frog & Onion Pub. It’s an institution. However, I recommend you stop-by Anchor Restaurant, Bar, and Lounge as well. But, make sure you go outside and hang-out with my man Uncle. He’s the DJ who comes over and greets you and asks what you want to hear. I say you let him play his favorites. He loves the classics like Marvin Gaye and the Commodores.
I had a couple Carlsberg Elephants, but if I had the time I could have stayed here all night.
Bayside Terrace at Grotto Bay
If you stay at Grotto Bay and are there on a Thursday night, don’t miss the Surf ‘n’ Turf buffet. It’s $70 per person, but it’s all you can eat. My brother-in-law housed 6 lobster tails. You can’t beat that.
It’s also outside you can see and hear the ocean — which always makes for a good ambience. There’s a live band to keep you entertained during dinner.