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Bermuda: What To Do Beyond The Beaches

October 17, 2017

The island of Bermuda is famous for its incredibly beautiful turquoise water and pink sandy beaches, but the island has so much more to offer beyond the beaches. Having a long list of activities to choose from is great, but it can also get overwhelming when you only have a short amount of time to fit everything in — because let's face it, vacations are NEVER long enough. To help you avoid having island FOMO (fear of missing out) I've put together a list of activites and sights to see that will make your trip to Bermuda feel complete — along with some beach time, of course.

 

Crystal and Fantasy Caves — For an extraordinary experience visit the island's underground caves. The Crystal and Fantasy Caves are full of majestic stalactites and stalagmites that date back millions of years and are all shapes and sizes — some are as thin as drinking straws, while others reach from floor to ceiling and as round as a tree trunk. I've been to caves before in the U.S., but have never seen anything quite like these — they are truly magnificent.

 

There are three guided-tour options to choose from — one tour visits just the Crystal Cave and the other takes you to just the Fantasy Cave, but I highly suggest taking the third tour which takes you through both caves. Each of the caves is uniquely different and until you're down there you won't even believe how just different! 

 

The caves are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets to visit one cave are $22 for adults and $10 for kids. A combination ticket is $30 for adults and $12 for kids.

 

Tip: Wear tennis shoes — there are a lot of stairs to get down into each of the caves, some are very steep, but most people on my tour handled the stairs just fine. (The stairs were more steep in the Fantasy Caves.)

 

 A look inside the Crystal Caves from the floating bridge.

The formations in the Crystal Caves reminded me of icicles! 

 Inside the Fantasy Caves — notice the formations are a lot darker in color than the Crystal Caves.

 

Fort St. Catherine — For the history buffs out there, plan a trip to Fort St. Catherine, where you'll find a plethora of exhibits that range from a collection of antique weapons to replicas of the British Crown Jewels.

 

The original fort was built in the early 1600s and was constructed out of wood, but it's been renovated multiple times throughout the years to the limestone structure it is today. Inside there are plenty of winding passageways, towers and chambers to explore — one of the chambers is even said to be haunted.

 

Not a history buff? You don't have to be to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of the building, its surroundings and the uninterrupted views of the ocean and beach below. 

 

The fort is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children. Guided lantern tours are offered on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for $25 a person. 

 

Fort St. Catherine

A view of Fort St. Catherine overlooking the water to give you an idea of the panoramic views you'll get from the fort.  

 

Glow Worms  — Ah, the glow worms! When anyone asks me about my trip to Bermuda the first thing I talk about is the night I got to see the island glow worms illuminate and dance around the water. 

 

Known as Nature's Fireworks Show (it's actually a mating ritual), the glow worms only appear at a very specific time from the month of May through November. The best places to see them are inlets, bays or other places where you'll find calm waters. To see them your timing has to be perfect — I'm talking exactly 56 minutes after sunset, two to three days after a full-moon perfect.

 

My friend and I were lucky enough to experience the glow worms on a local's dock — and patiently waiting for the exact moment 56 minutes hit was tough, our eyes played tricks on us and we'd think we saw one and point it out only to realize it was just a reflection of something off in the distance. We quietly held our breath in anticipation, watching the water tediously smack against the shore, hoping we hadn't gotten the days after the full moon mixed up. Just when we were about to give up and admit defeat it was like a light switch went off! The water began to glow — close to the shore, near the boat, under the dock — all of a sudden we were surrounded by neon green swirls. The worms quickly swam around in zig zag patterns that reminded me of doodles on an Etch A Sketch, some would stay lit for a minute or so while others fizzled out in seconds. We screamed like kids on Christmas morning every time we saw a worm light up — which the locals found hilarious making it even more fun for everyone who was there. The entire "show" only lasted about 10 minutes in total, but it was the highlight of the trip.

 
Side note: I was surprised that when I mentioned the glow worms to other tourists in passing, none of them had ever heard about it or knew it was happening during their trip, which is a shame because it was one of the most memorable parts of my entire trip.

 

Typically I would say that it was unfortunate that I wasn't able to take pictures, but honestly I am so glad that I couldn't because you really need to experience it for yourself. Plus, I got to fully experience the phenomenon without worrying about capturing the perfect image — even if I'd gotten a picture or two of the worms glowing and spinning around it still wouldn't do the experience justice.

 

Tip: Any sort of light source can dramatically decrease your chances of seeing the bioluminescent glow, so don't use your phone or flashlight to see the worms. Once they start lighting up you can't miss it!

 

Town Crier Tour — Every week from April to October the city of Hamilton offers a free walking tour with the Town Crier. It's extremely informative and takes you all around the island's capital as you learn about the city's architecture, government, history and even a ghost story or two.

 

The tour doesn't have a set route, but typically stops by places like the Sessions House — where Parliament and the Supreme Court are housed — the Bermuda Cathedral, several pretty parks and interesting local businesses. Tours typically last around two hours and I HIGHLY recommend wearing comfortable shoes, because you are walking the entire time. The weekly tour starts on the steps of City Hall, Monday through Friday at 10:30 a.m. 

 

Tip: After the tour go back to the Cathedral and climb to the top — it's only $3 and the views of the city below are well worth every penny.

 

Your tour guide Ed Christopher has been the Town Crier for more than 20 years! He is very engaging and absolutely hilarious. 

You can't miss the stark white City Hall building where you'll meet for your tour.  

 All the arches of the Sessions House. 

 The Bermuda Cathedral Tower.

Magnificent stained glass windows in the Bermuda Cathedral. 

 

Unfinished Church — Right outside the small parish of St. George sits a striking large stone building known as the Unfinished Church. Construction on the Gothic-style structure began in the 1870s to replace another church, but was never completed for several reasons including the churches' congregation splitting, lack of funding and significant hurricane damage. Today, it's a protected historical monument that visitors can admire — the impressive architecture alone is worth checking out and the fact that it's completely hollow inside makes it even more intriguing. 

 

 Sunshine shining through the church's emptiness.

 The path that leads to the church from the parish.

 

It won't take you long to wander around and get a good look at the beautiful building, so while you're in the area stop by St. George's Parish — it's a colorful and charming town that's well worth spending an afternoon. 

 Some of the colorful buildings throughout St. George's Parish. 

 St. George is the island's oldest town and is full of history. 

 Hadn't seen one of these in awhile! 

 

A special thanks to my friend Dana for hosting me in Bermuda, showing me the ropes and walking everywhere because I couldn't ride a bike! Check out her site for all things Bermuda, here.

 

Check back for an article on Bermuda's beaches; in the mean time, flip through the slideshow below to see more pictures from the caves.

 

To see even more pictures from the trip that didn't make it into the article follow the Southern Departure Instagram account.

From essentials to creature comforts, make traveling easier with these tried-and-true products.

Looking for other island vacation ideas? Click here for a Southern Departure favorite. 

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