Combine the warm weather and vibrant colors that you'd expect from a tropical island, with the decorum and cleanliness associated with the United Kingdom, and you've got Bermuda. The British Overseas Territory lies in the Atlantic Ocean, just about 1,000 miles off the coast of South Carolina, and mostly consists of eight large islands traversable via bridges and causeways. It would be a mistake to travel to Bermuda looking for a party scene, but the 650,000 tourists who visited last year came for what Bermuda's tourism board deemed "proper fun" in an ad campaign. That is to say, Bermuda offers incredible pink-sand beaches, water activities, golf courses, shopping, and cocktails -- plus, very little you wouldn't want your grandma to see. Read on for our list of the best things to do in Bermuda.
Swim and sunbathe on Horseshoe Bay Beach.
The striking contrast of turquoise water hitting pink sand can’t be done justice in a photo. You have to visit Horseshoe Bay Beach for yourself to soak in all the natural beauty. The main stretch of sand has a horseshoe shape (hence the name). It can get crowded (especially on cruise ship days), but explorers can traverse rocks and grassy paths for access to additional beaches –some of which will be completely empty. The waves can get slightly rough, but the water is clear and flags are posted if conditions get out of control. Back at the entrance point, visitors can rent sun loungers and umbrellas. Visitors can also expect an outdoor bar, gift shop with beach gear, and a concession-style restaurant with a short menu of burgers, fish sandwiches, and fries. Super clean bathrooms, showers, and changing rooms are free to access.
Walk the plank.
Calico Jack’s Floating Bar is hard to miss if you’re coming off the King’s Wharf cruise dock. The pirate ship is docked on a calm bay in the Royal Naval Dockyard. Although entrance onto the ship is free, it costs five dollars for a wristband that allows for unlimited jumping off the gangplank. A full bar is on offer, and prices are pretty low compared to the rest of Bermuda. There’s also a giant inflatable slide in the water, and the ship occasionally hosts nightly DJs. It’s certainly touristy, but locals like to get in on the action too, especially after dark.
Take a sunset cruise.
Getting out on the water is a must for any visit to Bermuda. Ships of all shapes and sizes offer cruises throughout the day and can include snorkeling stops, kayaking, scuba diving, and glass-bottom boat rides. Sunset cruises are particularly popular and pleasant, and often come with at least one rum cocktail and a small snack. The Bermuda Triangle Twilight Cruise includes spooky commentary about the mysteries of the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Again, during cruise ship days, excursions can sell out weeks in advance, so it’s best to book early.
Shop for perfume and rum cakes.
Prices are notoriously high in Bermuda (after all, the luxury island has to have almost everything imported), but there are a few fun souvenirs to be had. The Bermuda Perfumery, in St. George Parish, provides a small tour and explanation of how the perfumes are made. Visitors can then make their own custom scent inspired by Bermudan plants and nature. Free shipping is available for those who need to avoid carrying liquids onto a plane.
The Clocktower Mall is located within a 10-minute walk of the cruise docks and offers a selection of local and international shops with duty-free prices. This is the place to stock up on textiles and t-shirts. For kitschier items, including beach towels, postcards, and key chains, Dockyard Pharmacy is a good budget bet. Rum cakes and Cuban cigars are also for sale.
The island also widely accepts U.S. dollars, but prints their own colorful currency, which pays homage to local frogs, fish, and birds. Most restaurants and shops are happy to provide change in the local currency. This makes for one of the best Bermuda souvenirs.
Drink a Dark 'n' Stormy and a Rum Swizzle.
It’s a matter of opinion whether Bermuda’s national cocktail is the Rum Swizzle or the Dark ‘n’ Stormy. As an outsider, it’s only polite to enjoy both cocktails. Bermudan rum is known to be darker and sweeter than most rums made in the Caribbean. The Dark ‘n’ Stormy is trademarked, and made with ginger beer and local Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, poured over ice. Supposedly, the rum and beer come together to resemble a storm cloud in a glass. Rum Swizzles are much more tropical and open to interpretation, as they’re made with any variety of tropical juice and rum, usually with the addition of bitters and a few slices of fresh fruit as a garnish. Whichever drink you choose, it’s best enjoyed with an ocean view on a Bermudaful day.
NOW WATCH: 5 Best Things to Do in Bermuda
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