Growing up (and then spending my early 20s) on the East Coast, I was familiar with the little island of Bermuda only through hearsay. I had a handful of friends and family members who vacationed on the island regularly because it’s so easily accessible from major cities such as Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. But it wasn’t until a girlfriend and I needed (okay, wanted) a short moms’ getaway a couple of years ago that I finally made it to the pink-sand island myself.
Now that I live in Colorado, getting to Bermuda is a bit more of a trek. Non-direct flights from our remote mountain town gave my pal Kristina and me all the more reason to layover for 24 hours in New York City, kicking off our girlfriend getaway with bustling sidewalks, Broadway, and bright lights before chilling out with Bermudian rum drinks on lounge chairs under pink-and-white parasols.
Our home base for our three-night stay in Bermuda was The Reefs Hotel and Club on the island’s southwest shore. Set into a cliff above a sandy cove, this property is composed of standard rooms and suites, free-standing cottages, as well as a handful of spacious two- or three-bedroom condominiums with full gourmet kitchens. Guests also have private access to a infinity pool and hot tub perched above the azure ocean. Typically, room rates here typically include breakfast and afternoon tea, a lovely British tradition that includes small sandwiches and sweet treats.
Infinity pool perched above the beach at The Reefs
We also appreciated the hotel’s location near a public bus stop. Visitors to Bermuda can rent mopeds or use the efficient bus system, but vacationers aren’t allowed to rent cars on the island. We found this surprising, until we realized that it’s a brilliant law: The narrow roads, tight turns, and drive-on-the-left-side conditions make for hazardous driving among those not familiar with the territory. Plus, sitting back and letting someone else drive means you’re better able to take in the sights—not only ocean views, but also plentiful flowered bushes that line the sides of the roads and the island’s Easter egg-colored buildings and homes.
On one overcast day we took one of the island’s pale-pink buses into Bermuda’s capital of Hamilton, where we found plenty of shopping options and British pubs. While we appreciated something “urban” to do in the blustery weather, I wouldn’t necessarily make the city a must-see on your Bermuda agenda, especially if you’re only on the island for a few days.
Better yet, head out to the Royal Naval Dockyard (also on the bus line) on the island’s westernmost point to stroll inside the stone walls of a 19th-century fortress where British troops once marched. Today, you’ll find restaurants (we enjoyed our lunch at the Bone Fish Bar & Grill), as well as several shops, including the unique Bermuda Arts Centre, whose resident artists create works on site. The creative space also offers several local artists’ hand-crafted items for sale, including jewelry, sculptures, and pottery. I also highly recommend stopping by the glassblowing demonstration at Dockyard Glassworks, where you can purchase a variety of glass decorative items, Christmas-tree ornaments, and jewelry. And don’t miss the next-door Bermuda Rum Cake Company for free samples.
Viewfinder Tip: Avoid crowds at the Royal Naval Dockyard by asking your hotel concierge if any cruise ships are in town during time of your visit.
Another popular attraction for visitors is the Bermuda Railway Trail, where 22 miles of train tracks formerly stretched from one end of the island to the other. Today, the right-of-way is a path for hikers, joggers, and bicyclists. Parts are paved, some are not; signs along the way point out interesting historic sites and scenic views. It’s certainly a safe way to get some exercise in Bermuda. After all, walking along the sides of the roads on which cars drive can be a little scary, as residents who know the roads take curves at a quick clip.
My favorite activity during our short stay on Bermuda was a leisurely stroll along some of the island’s southern beaches. From our home base at The Reefs, it was a 10-minute walk east toward the beach club belonging to the Fairmont Southampton, where we could access several connected bays facing oceanfront South Shore Park. Here we found great views of craggy rock formations along the beach.
Still more activities on Bermuda for a girlfriend getaway include horseback riding (on the aforementioned southern beaches, if you like), snorkeling and SCUBA diving, kayaking and jet skiing, and glass-bottom boat rides. Historic spots to visit include the State House, built in 1620, as well as St. Peter’s Church, established in 1612. The Crystal Caves and Fantasy Caves are among the island’s most popular attractions, with their underground pools of turquoise water and funky-looking crystal formations; these are on my list for my next visit to Bermuda!
What’s your favorite destination for an island getaway and why?