Bermuda bleg

I’ll have less than a free day there, but I will put your advice to good use, thanks in advance.  What to see and what to eat?


Just got back from Bermuda, where we spend a week each summer.

We have never found food that has much to recommend it beyond excellent fish. If there is a distinctive local cuisine, we have never found it.

The single best thing I have seen or done in Bermuda was helmet diving and I recommend it unreservedly if you have half a day to burn in Dockyards (a town with, alas, little else to recommend it).

However bear in mind that getting from point A to point B on Bermuda is always more difficult and time consuming than you expect, or than the simple distances would suggest. You need to plan out where you are going, how to get there, and whether any required ferries are running. Ferries are about 4x faster than buses or taxis for travel between the major towns.

Sounds like the Third World. Going from point A to point B takes 3x to 10x longer than in the USA. Even in Greece, much less the Philippines where I'm at now, this is true.

Also nearly every place on earth practices unsustainable fishing, so likely any fish you eat will be destructive to the environment.


Places don't practise fishing; people practise fishing.

Due to its small population and position in the middle of the ocean, Bermuda is probably one of the least over-fished places in the world. To put things in perspective, Bermuda has 60,000 people, and its exclusive economic zone is around 125,000 sq. miles of ocean.

Its fishing fleet is a few dozen small boats who each go out with 2 or 3 men. Large commercial vessels are excluded. There is no export of fish to my knowledge, so you have this tiny fishing fleet fishing in a vast area of ocean. Reef fishing is tightly controlled - I'm sure that compared to a hundred years ago there are many fewer fish on the reefs (and lion fish have arrived...), but there never seems to be a shortage of fish around.

I came to comment on the very same week in Bermuda. Heh!

Agreed on all of the above (also, rockfish is better than wahoo). Additionally, am very in favor of snorkeling in Tobacco Bay, or just enjoying how gorgeous it is.

Bermuda rum cake counts as distinctive local cuisine, and I highly recommend it (with the warning that it's like 80 proof cake, which is an experience). It's available for purchase in Dockyards at a place that also does glassblowing demos, because why not.

The reef ecosystem and military history are both interesting. I've enjoyed watching the slow transformation of the St. George's economy across several years' worth of trips (operating at a delay from the US economy, because tourism, but also they've invested some in marketing the place and rejiggered the ferry schedules to make it more tourist-friendly; you can't get the diachronic view on a brief trip, but you might be able to have some interesting conversations). The political history is interwoven with racial history in also fascinating, but distressing, ways.

Though slow, the buses are all scenic. Just staring around in unreserved wonder at how pretty it all is can pass a lot of time.

You cannot rent a car (they are reserved for locals). You could get a motor scooter, which we have never dared to do, because high-speed driving with near-zero armor on the wrong side of the road around blind turns with zero shoulder up against a retaining wall is more excitement than we are up for, but your mileage (or kilometrage) may vary.

Hamilton is rather dull and touristy. Lots of high-end shopping. Meh.

Don't rent a car: they drive on the wrong side of the road! My wife and I rented a motor scooter, which may seem riskier than a car but it's not - it's intersections (roundabouts, no less) that cause the confusion, the tendency for us being to go to the right lane rather than the left. With the scooter, we would go around the obstacles in our path. My advice: don't rent a scooter, either. But it's a great way to see the island, as you can circumnavigate the entire island in very little time.

The opposite of "right" in this context is "left", not "wrong". Driving on the right is wrong for me!

Being required to drive on the opposite side of the road to that to which you are accustomed is a simple and generally painless way to know for sure that you are Abroad.

Local fish is big on the menus - look for snapper, wahoo or tuna - it will invariably be local. Most restaurants are reliable, although probably expensive for a visitor due to the high cost of living in Bermuda. Fish chowder is a specialty to have as a starter, served with local rum and sherry pepper.

Sushi is big too. Many places have Sushi chefs. In my opinion the best sushi is at Harbourfront, just outside of town at the BUEI, and Beluga Bar in the Washington Mall in town. Harbourfront has a happy hour for sushi between 5 -6.30 Mon-Fri.

For breakfast, have codfish and potatoes, served with local bananas, avocados, boiled egg, etc. It is a hearty breakfast, - Bermudians normally have it on Sunday mornings for the big family breakfast, tastier than you would imagine, and worth trying as I don't think you can get it elsewhere.

For cheaper food catered more to locals, there are a variety of fast food wagons, take-outs and diners. These often serve excellent fresh fish sandwiches. The best in my opinion is Seaside Grill, a 5 minute drive out of town on North Shore Road in Devonshire. - it's run by a fisherman, and the fish in their sandwiches is 'off de hook' and plentiful. You can sit by their dock to eat.

Things to do - difficult with less than a day. A boat tour around the islands of Hamilton Harbour and the Great Sound is a great way to experience some of the beauty of Bermuda. If you can't fit that in, then just a ferry ride between Hamilton and Dockyard will give you a taste. If you're over on the west side, try and get a glimpse of the Americas' Cup teams testing out their high-speed yachts. It's a sight to behold. You can hire a Kayak at Grotto Bay and canoe among giant sea turtles in Castle Harbour. If you take the short hike through Blue Hole Park and Tom Moore's jungle you will find grottoes and caves with crystal clear water to swim in. It reminds me of pictures of cenotes in the Yucatan.

There are stunning beaches and nature parks all over the islands. Horseshoe is where the tourists are generally diverted to, but there are others where you can have a half-mile-long beach practically to yourself on weekdays in the middle of summer (afraid I'm not going to point you to where, as this is a public blog and I wouldn't want others to catch on to specific locations). And miles of nature trails not even trod upon from one week to the next.

People are generally very friendly and easy to talk to. There is a fascinating array of local accents for such a small place. Remember to be polite. "Good morning" and "good afternoon" are very important for a lot of people in shops, etc.

Read the local newspaper - - a few days before you arrive and while you're here. Local current affairs can be highly insane and entertaining, if a little troubling at times.

As an economist, you would probably be interested to go into ordinary stores like grocery stores. The prices are not only hair-raising in terms of the costs ($6 for a loaf of very mediocre bread for example), but often make no sense (e.g. 2 250g packs of butter are cheaper than a 500g pack of butter, - this is repeated for many items).

Will add to this -

Fort Hamilton is a 5 minute walk from Hamilton. It has commanding views of the Harbour and the city. But for me the best part about it is the moat. If the gates to the most are open, it is like stepping down into a lost or forgotten other world. The path winds through jungle scenery, and there are galleys and hidden entrances in the walls around the moat. Very under visited - a real hidden gem of Bermuda. Plus the shade is welcome this time of year.

Try House of India on North St. in Hamilton. My wife and I go every time we're in town.

Snorkeling on the coral reef is beautiful. All kinds of colorful fish. Just don't wear flashy jewelry and slap the surface of the water if the barracuda come in too close to look at you. You can swim out from the beaches.

The Bermuda Maritime Museum (now the grandly titled Bermuda National Museum) in Somerset is definitely worth the ferry ride from Hamilton. Gibbs Hill Lighthouse has the best views in Bermuda, if you don't get vertigo (the observation platform encircles the top). Walking around St. George's is a treat, especially St. Peter's Church and Tucker House. Stick to Goslings Rum.

I'm pretty sure that walking round St George's is the best use of a few hours in Bermuda. You can combine that with a ferry trip to Dockyard and visit the old Governor's House there. That's not going to be a gastronomic delight (I'd eat in St George's) but it will be interesting. You'll spot quite a few references to times when the US and the UK were on much worse terms than they are now. Also, take a bus if you get the chance. It's a good service and you'll get a glimpse of real life - better than just talking to one taxi driver.

Small correction - at Dockyard the large structure is Commissioner's House (I helped restore it in the 1970s). Government House (still the residence of the governor) is just north of Hamilton.

I go there 4-5x/yr for work. Mad Hatters never fails for a good meal in Hamilton with great seafood specials.

Bermuda fish chowder with (lots of) black rum and pepper sherry.

If you have time for a fine-dining experience, just off Front Street in downtown Hamilton is Bolero Brasserie. Quite pricey, but outstanding food and excellent service. Menu changes periodically, so if you're looking for something specific, best to check in advance. That said, they always have some variation of the local seafood on the menu (and a lot of other excellent options as well). Table at the front overlooking the harbor is best.

ST. Georges is lovely, if you have the time to just wander a bit, but if you want a more focused site, the Maritime Museum at the Dockyards (other end of the island) is surprisingly good. That's where most of the cruise ships dock though, so it can get a little crowded with tourists.

Cars and scooters are not worth the trouble for a quick trip. The bus system is good and will get you close to just about anywhere you need to be (thanks to a limited number of roads). Ferries are an excellent choice to go longer distances, if you can make the schedule work. Taxis are not cheap but are easy to find and efficient.

There is a COMPLETE dive of an Indian place, very close to the garbage dump in Hamilton. (I have not been in maybe five years, so hopefully still there!)

I would go regularly with a business associate who was an army brat in India as a kid. No good aesthetic at all. Horrible location. Flavors have a wild mix of Indian with island flair.

Yes, went and searched...amazingly the internet lets you search for such things...creatively named House of India on North Street.

Comments for this post are closed