About Hamilton beaches
You can almost see the historians grin when they note that Spain failed to settle on this set of islands when they were first noted about 1503 by Juan de Bermudez – hence the islands’ name. It was settlers from England, bound for the Virginia colony but blown off course in 1609, who first stayed here. Today, Bermuda is a self-governing Overseas British Territory with a population of descendants from original settlers and African slaves brought here. Hamilton is the island capital, as well. The capital is named for one of George III’s favoured governors in the New World, Henry Hamilton. Incorporated in 1793, the city became the island’s capital in 1815. Shop-lined Harbourside Front Street is the busiest thoroughfare; Court Street intersects it and leads north past major government buildings as well as many shops.
Although the coastline of Bermuda has bragging rights to glorious pink-sand beaches, there are none in Hamilton. The closest stretch of sand, Elbow Beach, is about 1.5km (nearly a mile) away. Kayaks are available for hire, diving and snorkelling boats book passengers and there are food concessions.
Beyond the beach:
Hamilton’s thoroughfare is Front Street, and everything is on it or nearby. Make your first stop the Visitors Service Bureau, adjacent to the Ferry Terminal, to get a map, tokens for the buses and ferries, and the Heritage Pass (about 10 pounds a person) for admission to six cultural attractions. Victorian buildings are painted in sherbet colours, adding to the feel of this being a Caribbean island, though it isn’t. Lovely Victoria Park, fancied up in honour of that Queen’s Golden Jubilee, features concerts on its vintage bandstand. Or contemplate the Empire’s history at Fort Hamilton.
Along Hamilton Harbour, stroll to the Underwater Exploration Institute (40 Crow Lane) to experience a 3.65km (2.3 mile) simulated dive of a submersible, or just study the cannon and other artefacts recovered from the numerous shipwrecks. It IS called the Bermuda Triangle, remember? Maybe you just want to take in a cricket or football match, played all about the island.
Five public golf courses (www.bermudagolf.org), horses for hire, tennis courts and the excellent 30km (18-mile) Railway Trail, the renovated bed of the former railroad (for biking, plus three nature trails) will satisfy outdoor enthusiasts. The Royal Navy Docklands, once the Western Atlantic base for the fleet but now filled with historic exhibits and shops, and at the opposite (eastern) end of the islands, the quaint village of St George’s, with its museums, restored 17th-century fort, town crier and a replica of the ship that carried the original settlers here almost 400 years ago, are popular tourist haunts.