Bermuda is probably best known for two things: lurid, knee-length shorts and the fabled Bermuda Triangle, a stretch of sea where boats and planes are said to have mysteriously disappeared. However, these lazy stereotypes serve only to distract from what is an exceptionally beautiful destination.
Comprised of around 180 islets, Bermuda looks like your archetypal Caribbean retreat with its fine sandy beaches, colourful coral reefs and swaying palms. But it’s nothing of the sort. In fact this lonely archipelago floats 1,030km (640 miles) off the coast of South Carolina, adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, far from anywhere in particular.
A British Overseas Territory, Bermuda has embraced many traditions from the motherland: from sophisticated gents playing cricket to refined ladies supping afternoon tea. There are even red phone boxes.
Discovered by the Spanish in 1505, Bermuda fell into British hands a century later and has remained part of the much-diminished empire ever since. The legendary writer, Mark Twain, popularised the islands in the late 19th century. “You go to heaven if you want – I’d rather stay here instead,” he cooed. John Lennon was another fan of the archipelago, which was the muse behind his song, Borrowed Time.
For some time Bermuda has been considered a destination for the, shall we say, more mature traveller. And while its scenic golf courses, colonial hotels and genteel vibe do suit elderly travellers, the archipelago has started to attract a younger crowd in recent years. They come for the excellent scuba diving, the cycling and other adventure activities, or just to explore the beauty of the archipelago from the back of a motorbike.
And beautiful it is. Bermuda’s coastline is blessed with pink sandy beaches and crystalline waters, while inland visitors will find an abundance of subtropical plants and flowers, interspersed with quaint pastel cottages. There are certainly worse places to disappear.
61,662 (UN estimate 2016).
Parliamentary, self-governing British Overseas Territory.
Head of state:
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor George Fergusson since 2012.
Head of government:
Premier Michael Dunkley since 2014.
110 volts AC, 60Hz. American (flat) two-pin plugs are standard (with or without round grounding pin).
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Bermuda has a moderate crime rate driven in part by the drugs scene. Serious incidents, including use of weapons, do occur. Take precautions to safeguard yourself and your possessions. Common crimes include burglary, mugging, theft of unattended baggage and belongings, and theft of items from rental scooters.
The Bermuda Police Service website provides Tourist Safety Tips. Take particular care after dark.
Stick to well-lit parts of the island and avoid quieter, darker streets. There have been incidents of sexual assault. If you need help, contact the Bermuda Police Service in the first instance.
Tourists are not allowed to drive cars in Bermuda.
Buses, ferries and taxis are generally safe, frequent and efficient. You can’t hire a car in Bermuda, but 50cc scooters are readily available for public hire. Driving is on the left, as in the UK. Roads are narrow, winding and undulating, and traffic may be heavy. Road accidents involving scooters are relatively common, and have resulted in serious injury or even death. You should take care. The national speed limit is 35kmh (22mph) but is lower in some urban areas.
Outside the major urban areas there are few footpaths or street lighting. Take care when out walking, especially at night.