elsewhere, travel
Comments 43

A Week in Bermuda

Bermuda is about 20 square miles, and made up of over 100 islands. In the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by treacherous reefs, it’s a place rich with stories.

Bermuda’s history is fascinating, and every person we met and chatted with — taxi drivers, waiters, residents — was so knowledgeable and proud of this history. They are all storytellers, telling tales of seafaring and discovery, from the first Spanish explorer who reached Bermuda’s shores in the early 1500s — and ultimately did not settle because he feared it was an island of devils — to the 1609 shipwreck of the Sea Venture, a British ship on its way to Jamestown, Virginia, that separated from its fleet during a hurricane.

The Vixen, a shipwreck about 20 minutes offshore from the Royal Naval Dockyard. (Not the ship mentioned above.)

The Vixen, a shipwreck 20 minutes off the coast. (This is not the ship mentioned above.)

Looking out to sea at Fort St. Catherine, an artillery fort at the northeast tip of St. George's Island.

Looking out to sea at Fort St. Catherine, an artillery fort at the northeast tip of St. George’s Island.

A wide sea view from Fort St. Catherine.

A wide sea view from Fort St. Catherine.

Being my first visit to Bermuda — a British Overseas Territory — I wasn’t sure what to expect. After exploring by bus for the first few days, I realized it didn’t feel or look like the islands I’ve visited further south, in the Caribbean. Its street signs, red pillar post boxes and telephone booths, and parish names — like Southampton and Devonshire — are certainly British, while much of the island is generally well-kept, like a big tropical golf course.

A street in St. George's, the first permanent English settlement on the island.

A street in St. George’s, the first permanent English settlement on the island (in 1612).

Bermudians are incredibly friendly, courteous, and helpful. Here, you greet everyone, from people walking down the street to other passengers sitting on the bus. (Don’t even think about getting on the bus without saying “good afternoon” to the driver.) It’s a pleasant place to be — and quite different from what I’m used to.

Clockwise from top left: Royal Naval Dockyard, rooftop of our cottage at the Reefs, street in St. George's, and the Vixen shipwreck.

Clockwise from top left: Royal Naval Dockyard, rooftop of our cottage at the Reefs, a street in St. George’s, and the Vixen shipwreck.

Bermuda’s architecture is simple and uniform, which you spot immediately when landing at the airport. All the houses on the island are painted a unique pastel shade and have white tiered rooftops, which collect rainwater into storage tanks. One taxi driver mentioned that no two houses in a neighborhood are painted the same color, unless they’re owned by the same family.

The typical Bermudian limestone roof: white and stepped.

The typical Bermudian roof is white, stepped, and made of limestone, which helps to purify rainwater.

* * *

At the end of March, just before Easter and cruise season begins, Bermuda is mellow and quiet.

Many of its beaches are deserted, the roads are clear, and the harbors are empty. It’s nice to experience the island without crowds — to be able to wander long stretches of pale pink sand in solitude.

The view from the Reefs, a hotel on the south shore of Bermuda.

The view from the Reefs, a hotel on the south shore of Bermuda.

Hiking on the south shore, between Horseshoe Bay and Warwick Long Bay.

Hiking on the south shore, between Horseshoe Bay and Warwick Long Bay.

Rocks near Horseshoe Bay, often named one of the top beaches in the world.

Rocks near Horseshoe Bay, often named one of the top beaches in the world.

A trail along the south shore, near Horseshoe Bay.

A trail along the south shore, near Horseshoe Bay.

* * *

We stayed in a cottage in Southampton, on the south shore of the island, at the Reefs hotel. Nick and I don’t usually stay in posh resorts like this, but it was a special occasion — a spring holiday with mum — and we were able to book at a discounted rate.

A view of the Reefs resort in Southampton.

A view of the Reefs resort in Southampton.

View from the hot tub at the Reefs in Southampton.

View from the hot tub at the Reefs in Southampton.

* * *

* * *

It was windy for most of the week and stormed a few nights — authentically Dark ‘n Stormy, I suppose — but we had a lovely time getting acquainted with Bermuda, in awe of its turquoise waters and the reefs and rocky coves that make up its beaches.

I’ll be back.

Rock formations, spotted between Tobacco Bay and Fort Catherine.

Rock formations, spotted between Tobacco Bay and Fort St. Catherine.

A sign at Tobacco Bay, a cove about a 15-minute walk from the town of St. George's.

A sign at Tobacco Bay, a cove about a 15-minute walk from the town of St. George’s.

An old storefront in Tobacco Bay.

An old storefront in Tobacco Bay.

The Unfinished Church in St. Georges.

The Unfinished Church in St. Georges.

A bright blue door in the town of St. George's.

A bright blue door in the town of St. George’s.

Crystal and Fantasy Caves in Hamilton Parish.

The Crystal Cave in Hamilton Parish.

A colorful street in St. George's.

A colorful street in St. George’s.

Flavors at Bailey's Bay Ice Cream Parlour. (Yes, the Dark and Stormy flavor was good.)

Flavors at Bailey’s Bay Ice Cream Parlour. (Yes, the Dark and Stormy flavor was good.)

A grand, old building in the Victualling Yard at the Dockyard.

A grand, old building in the Victualling Yard at the Dockyard.

Looking out at the water from the Royal Naval Dockyard.

Looking out at the water from the Royal Naval Dockyard.

Representing Longreads on vacation, naturally.

Representing Longreads on vacation, of course.

* * *

Photos taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX 100, Canon G11, and iPhone 5s. See more images on Instagram @cherilucasrowlands.

43 Comments

  1. Dear Cheri!!
    Sitting in my bed and reading your story, I can feel this uncertain bizarre scenario of my toes becoming wet due to the ocean waters and my soles becoming ticklish because of the tricky reefs. It’s all picture perfect and bluish-ly elegant here. The ocean, reefs, sand and cliffs are so amazing and welcoming. The limestone effect on the roofs to cleanse the rainwater, I’m hearing it for the first time and its genius.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes! I loved hearing about the rainwater collection on the roofs. I learned so many interesting details and stories about the island. A fantastic place. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  2. Wow this looks like a dream, from start to finish. Amazing! Who knew the ocean was that blue? Fantastic colors. Definitely need to visit soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I worked on ships in the Carribean for a couple of years and all my friends kept saying, “Yes, these islands are beautiful, yada, yada, yada, but you’ve GOT to go to Bermuda–it’s unlike anything else because of the beaches and the people.”
    To this day, I am yearning to go. And your exquisite photos have only added to the ache and appetite. Nonetheless, I am happy to be an armchair traveler through your post, Cheri. It makes me feel a tad bit closer to the experience I’m determined to have.
    (And also, thank you for posting the fantastic photo of the cork wreath. I have enough to make more than a dozen wreaths for everyone for the holidays and have been quite desperate for an idea for what to do with them. Yep. I like wine.)
    Cheers!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your years working on ships in the Caribbean sound interesting — on cruises, or something else?

      Thanks for reading this post, and glad that the image of the blue door has given you ideas for your corks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish I could say I’d been doing something marvelously intriguing, like skimming the bottom of the ocean floor as a fishery scientist for undiscovered plant life or even a working as a dolphin language translator, but no–it was cruise ships. And not even terribly impressive ones at that.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Finally someone has captured what I love about Bermuda in photos and words: the colors, the roofs, the history, the “good afternoon’s.” Bravo, Cheri!
    I visit Bermuda a lot because my daughter, son-in-law and grandbabies live there. You must return in summer or fall and go snorkeling. Your first photo is Jobson’s Cove, where rainbow-colored parrotfish practically nibbled my knees.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for stopping by, Marilyn! Yes, we realized we *have* to return when it’s warm so we can swim and paddle and all that. Really enjoyed our first visit. That’s wonderful that you have a reason to go back 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I never realized Bermuda was such a stunningly charming and beautiful place! I’ve considered traveling there before, but now it’s definitely on my “must-see” list. Your photos are phenomenal, thanks for sharing! It looks like you had a lovely time.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Cui 6 arts 崔氏六藝 says

    Is Bermuda a dangerous area for ships and airplanes? Thanks for the beautiful pictures that can be the reference of my oil paintings for the ocean and landscape.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. hmunro says

    Bermuda has never much appealed to me … until now. I loved your evocative description of the place and its people, and your photos are *stunning.* Thank you for this wonderful armchair trip to the islands, Cheri.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. The different shades of blue and turquoise in your photos are stunning! The streets in St. George remind me of Gibraltar. Looks like a really fun and relaxing trip!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Thanks so much for stirring up so many memories of being able, at an age where I was old enough to be able to roam free and young enough to feel free, of my Bermudian childhood. My sisters recently made a pilgrimage back. Now, I need to go and walk the sand… Super post, thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. As always your photos trigger an irrestible desire to pack and go. I’ve never been to Bermuda but now that my children are in college, I am adding more trip ideas to my long list. I have heard of the kindness of the people in Bermuda. This is my most favorite aspect when I travel. A country, as beautiful as can be, is not much without its people. The beauty alone can satisfy our soul. But the conversations, especially with people who live and work simple jobs, has always seem to me more important and certainly the most memorable.
    On a personal note, I find the photos of doors always gorgeous. The blue one on your post is exquisite. Thank you for the virtual trip.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Amazing… Your photos and words inspired me to go to this place. It seem like a warm and friendly place to vacation. Bermuda is on my list for my future travels. I love this blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Anonymous says

    Thank you, Cheri (again). I think Bermuda has just been added to my list of places to visit. I especially like the blue door with a wreath (great photos).

    Liked by 2 people

  13. After seeing your opening photo, I thought: Cheri found the spot for her Tiny House 🙂

    There is something warming about visit places with a colonial past, a mix of the authentic culture that meshes well with the colonial buildings and past that makes for such a fascinating history…and while never have traveled to Bermuda, the sense of friendliness and pride that you mention with the locals is a genuineness that I’ve seen in other places. Brilliant.

    Great photos ~ and there is something about stormy tropic skies that really excites me, that electricity in the air (even though I’ve begun to understand the sadness/terror such storms can bring). Looks like a perfect retreat ~

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks! Yes, Bermudians are *so* incredibly friendly, and it was very warm and genuine, and not in any way forced, or even formal. To have conversations with people, anywhere and everywhere, was — to be honest — noticeably different. A reminder that where I live, people are so in a hurry, so self-absorbed, so distracted… It’s indeed a lovely place.

      Funny you mention the tiny house — I kept imagining tiny mobile limestone-roofed, pastel-walled cottages along the sea. Many of the homes were already compact, but of course none of them were on wheels 🙂 Since buildings need to withstand hurricanes, I suspect that a tiny house on wheels, likely made of stone, could become very heavy very fast!

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is something about having a warm, authentic conversation with a stranger ~ and as for the ‘tiny house on wheels problem’ I have a friend in China who manufactures inflatable pontoons for the military…just let me know and your house could be floating off the reefs of Southhampton in no time 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Share your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s