Bermuda is a British island territory in the North Atlantic, off the eastern U.S., known for its distinctive blend of British and American culture and pink-sand beaches such as Elbow Beach and Horseshoe Bay. Its massive Royal Naval Dockyard complex combines modern attractions like the interactive Dolphin Quest with a look at maritime history at the National Museum of Bermuda.
Welcome to the oldest British colony. Contrary to popular belief, Bermuda is not a single island but rather an archipelago of around 180 islands with around 20 of them inhabited. There are 8 larger islands connected by causeways and bridges and the rest can be reached by ferry or boat.
The proper British way of life is very evident when you see the immaculate gardens and trim houses. Everything runs like clockwork and the people are polite. Of course the island life gives a full dose of an easy and relaxed atmosphere. Bermuda is also famous for its offshore financial institutions and is referred to as a tax or corporate haven.
This destination does focus on an older clientele who enjoy quaint colonial towns and days filled with golf. Young families also appreciate the quieter beaches. The nightclubs are more subdued, giving place to the performing arts, the theatre or English pubs.
Hamilton Currency : Bermuda dollar Driver's License : Rental cars are not permitted on the island. Electricity : 110V, 60Hz Entry Requirements : A valid passport is required. Return or onward ticket required. It is the traveller's responsibility to check with the country’s Embassy for up-to-date information. GMT Time : -4hr. Daylight savings time is applied. Government : Self-governing British Overseas Territory Land size : 53.3 Km2 Language : English National Airlines : none Population : 67,837 approx Religion : Anglican 23%, Roman Catholic 15%, African Methodist Episcopal 11%, Protestant 18%, other 33% Required Vaccines : none Tourist Season : April through October
Bermuda counts about 150 restaurants so you are sure to find something to suit your taste and budget. Everything from very simple fare to gastronomical meals can be enjoyed.
Fish is the main staple of the Bermudian cuisine. The most commonly served fishes include tuna, mahi mahi, rockfish and wahoo. One of the favourite ways to prepare it is panfried with almonds and banana slices. Bermudians serve fish in several other ways as well, like shark hash, codfish cakes, steamed or boiled with potatoes, tomatoes and onions. Bermuda even has its own traditional chowder recipe which consists of sherry peppers and black rum. When in season, the Bermuda spiny lobster is excellent, as are conch, scallops, mussels and mullet roe.
For those who prefer meat, the ideal choice would be the cassava pie. Resembling our meat pies, it is made with pork or chicken and cassava (a starchy vegetable similar to potatoes). This recipe has been reinvented many times, an example would be the mussel pie, made, of course, of shelled mussels.
Favourite desserts consist of bananas baked in rum and brown sugar and banana crumble. Strawberries and cherries are served when in season.
Loquat, a yellow-orange plum-like fruit, was introduced to the island about 150 years ago. It is a bit tart but can be eaten fresh, as jam, as relish and in a pie. But some swear the best way to enjoy it is as a liqueur, the base of the liqueur usually being Bermudian rum.
Being a true British colony, ales and beers hold a soft spot in most Bermudians heart. Other popular drinks are cocktails made with Bermudian rum and ginger beer (non-alcoholic).
Culture The Bermudian culture is shaped out of the many people who came here during the course of this island's history. Mostly made up of English settlers, African and Caribbean slaves, Irish, Scots and Portuguese, today's Bermudian is friendly, polite and easygoing.
Bermuda is not known for its traditional art but many great artists have found refuge or inspiration here, like Mark Twain and Eugene O'Neill. Only a handful of painters and sculptors have made an international name for themselves.
The Bermudian best express themselves through dance. There are several dance companies on the island, such as the Bermuda African Dance Company, the Bermuda Dance Company and the Bermuda Civic Ballet. The most representative dance style is the Gombey. Dating back to the 1700s, the original roots are African but it is also influenced by the Native Americans and the British. Dressed in Carnival style costumes, the dancers carry out choreographies depicting Bible stories, all to the rhythm of drums.
Clubs play Bermudian music mixed with sounds from Jamaica, Trinidad, and Puerto Rico. Bermudians are also partial to good old American Rock'n Roll, but the Balladeer Tradition still remains strong. Local balladeers continue to enjoy considerable popularity in the local pubs and lounges. These crooners can strum a song for any occasion or political opinion. The greatest balladeer was Hubert Smith.
Geography Bermuda is not part of the Caribbean as most people believe. It is actually much higher on the globe, sharing similar latitude with the state of South Carolina. Bermuda is composed of 181 islands and islets located in the North Atlantic Ocean. Most of the land is spread on eight larger islands that are connected by causeways and bridges.
The landscaped consists of low hills and fertile land. The highest elevation is a mere 76 m at Town Hill. The island is famous for its lovely pink sand, this pinkish colour comes from the single-celled animal called a foram. When it dies, its red skeleton gets broken up by the currents and mixed in with the white sand.
History The first mention of Bermuda dates back to 1511. Probably identified by the Spanish, it remained uncolonized due to the disastrous fate of so many ships. Soon seafarers kept at bay and nicknamed the island The isle of Devils.
The British were the first to settle here and only by accident. It was in 1609 that the Sea Venture was wrecked on Bermuda's reefs while en route to Virginia. Within a few years 60 colonists arrived from England and the first city founded was St. George Town. African and some Native American Indian slaves were the first to be brought here to work the land. They were followed by Scots and Irish prisoners who fought against England. All slaves were freed in 1834 after the British Emancipation Act.
Bermuda holds the title of the oldest British colony in the world. Bermuda's history was shaped greatly by the evolving relationship between the United States and Britain. During the 1940s, Bermuda became an important military base. It is around this time that transport and communication systems were modernized. This soon attracted international business and tourists.
Nature The island's fauna is complex, sometimes perfect while at other moments rugged. Shaped over thousands of years, Bermuda's coral reefs, plunging cliffs, underground caves and shipwreck littered ocean floor give a sense of disorder and ruggedness. In contrast you will find dozens of perfectly manicured lawns, English gardens and parks with over 1000 species of plants and flowers to admire. Fascinating trails have been cleared in the many nature reserves and sanctuaries.
The animal life consists mostly of fish and marine life, amphibians, insects, reptiles and birds. It is not rare to see also whales swimming by in the ocean. The many frogs are always a curiosity for tourist, you will find Tree Frogs, Whistling Frogs and giant poisonous toads. Tourist who enjoy birding will be greatly rewarded with over 360 bird species sightings. The most commonly seen birds include the White-Tailed Tropicbird, Great Blue Heron and Cardinals. The rare Cahow (Bermuda petrel) was once believed to be extinct but now flourishes in Castle Habour.
Sports Rugby and cricket are definitely national favourites. Every July you can watch the Cricket Cup Match between East and West island teams. The dates of the Cup Match always concur with Emancipation Day (freeing of the slaves) and Somers Day (Discovery of Bermuda).
With over a hundred kilometres of coastline, one is sure find all the water sports facilities right at their finger tips, whether it be swimming, snorkelling, sailing, fishing, surfing or any other water activity. And of course, with the infamous legend of the Bermuda Triangle, this is the world's top wreck diving destination.
There are plenty of activity options for those who prefer to stay on land, such as horseback riding, hiking, cycling or soccer. But what Bermuda is most famous for is golf. With 8 18-hole golf courses and one 9-hole course, golfers from all over world flock here to practice their favourite sport and numerous tournaments take place every year.
Tennis was introduced, came to North America in 1874 though Bermuda. The first purchase of tennis equipment was made on the island between a British officer and an American woman. Today you will find about 70 tennis courts on the island.
Banks & Money
In Bermuda, the legal tender is the Bermuda Dollar and it is at par with the US Dollar. Although prices are listed with the national currency, US dollars are accepted readily so you may not need to exchange your money at all.
Other currencies can be exchanged in the banks and change offices. Bank ATMs are available throughout the more populated areas of the islands. All major credit cards and traveller's checks are accepted.
Climate The subtropical climate is relatively mild year round. Summer temperatures hover between 23° C to 29° C while in the winter months the average temperature is 20° C. There is no defined rainy season. Bermuda is more characterized by short thunderstorms soon followed by clear skies. In the summer the water temperature is very pleasant but bring your wetsuit in the winter months if you plan on practicing water sports.
For monthly average temperatures please refer to your destination of choice.
Communication Bermuda offers modern telephone and cellular roaming service. The telephone country code is 441.
Internet dial-up access can be found in hotels or Internet cafes. Cable TV is available in bigger hotels. Two newspapers are published daily: the Bermuda Sun and the Royal Gazette.
Health Bermuda's water is generally safe to drink. Hay fever can be bothersome to travellers with this allergy. Sunburn and sunstroke are the most common health problem encountered by tourist so take precaution.
There are no required vaccines to enter the country, unless you are arriving from a yellow fever affected destination. The following vaccines are recommended for any tropical destination: hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhoid, tetanus and yellow fever.
Official Holidays January 01 - New Year's Day March/April - Good Friday May 24 - Bermuda Day Mid-June - Queen's Birthday July/August - Emancipation Day July/August - Somers Days Early September - Labour Day November 11 - Remembrance Day December 25 - Christmas December 26 - Boxing Day
Safety Even thought Bermuda boast a low crime rate, as a tourist you are more likely to be a target of petty crime. Transportation systems are the favourite haunt of thieves.
Use good judgement, take advantage of the safety deposit boxes provided by the hotels, avoid wearing expensive jewellery and carry your wallet or camera discreetly. Hotel rooms and rental cars should be locked. Avoid walking alone at night.
Shopping Local art and craft are popular purchase for travellers. You will find plenty of beautiful shops filled with paintings, pottery, Bermuda cedar crafts, blown glass, dolls and miniature furniture. Beach and summer clothes is plentiful here if you are looking for a new swimsuit or Bermuda shorts.
Delectable souvenirs include local honey, Horton's Bermuda Rum Cakes, Outerbridge's Sherry Peppers condiments, Bermuda rum and Loquat Liqueur.
Bermuda is also a bargain place for the wealthy. If you can afford designer clothes and lavish imports like Irish linen, crystal and antiques, then great deals can be found.
Taxes & Tips There is no sales tax in stores. Hotels add 7.25% in tax and around 10% in service fees (includes porter and maid tips). Guest houses sometimes add 5% as an energy surcharge.
Restaurants usually include a 15% service charge on the bill, make sure to inquire first. Taxi drivers may be tipped 15%, airport porters should receive $1 per bag.
The departure tax of around US $25, per person, is usually included on your plane ticket, but if not added it will be payable at the airport Please verify.
Transportation Travellers arrive at the Bermuda International Airport, the only airport on the island. Bermuda Hosts vans and buses offer round-trip transportation to hotels and guest houses at reasonable prices. Taxi stands are also located at the airport.
Bermudians drive on the LEFT side. Car rentals are not permitted in Bermuda. As a mater of fact residents are only allowed one car per household. This is due to the island's strong environmental commitment. Taxis, buses, mini buses and ferries make up the island's public transportation.
The most popular way to get around is with a moped or a scooter. Be very careful as accidents are common, especially for first timers. There are many rental places but you must be at least 16 years old and helmets are obligatory by law. Bicycle rentals are available on the island but warned you may encounter quite a few steep hills when cycling outside the cities.