Canadians, especially in Eastern Canada, are very fortunate when searching for a nearby travel destination, as we have the entire Caribbean Ocean at our doorstep. Many people take advantage of the warmth and sunshine, especially during long winter months. Although I am not a big fan of beach destinations, I do enjoy one island in particular: the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda.
Nestled in the warm currents of the Atlantic Ocean, only a thousand kilometres south of Martha's Vineyard and the same distance west of North Carolina, this picturesque gem of British and Caribbean culture awaits visitors with wonderful hotels and B&B's. Best of all, people from Port Perry can get there in a mere two and a half hours on a direct flight.
There are many hotels and guesthouses, but my favourite by far is the Rosedon Hotel in Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital. The family owned property is small, but quaint and very British, offering afternoon tea to its residents. The property has beautiful gardens with lush tropical plants and an afternoon stroll relieves any stress you may have had before your trip. It is located across the road from the famous Fairmont Bermuda Princess Hotel, which is of course amazing in itself; however I tend to be drawn to the quaintness of a boutique property.
I enjoy walking and tend to see as much as possible on foot and Hamilton with fantastic eateries and many beautiful sights, is a great city for doing just that. Front Street, which runs along the water plays host to dozens of shops and many fine restaurants, with ample room for strolling on wide sidewalks. If you enjoy architecture, a visit to the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity is a must. It is by far one of the most beautiful Anglican churches anywhere on the islands.
History buffs will enjoy a visit to Fort Hamilton, which dates back to 1870 and was built to protect the Royal Naval Dockyard. The Fort provides fantastic views of the city as well as the harbour. Another great historic spot is the Post Office, where the first Bermuda stamp was printed. It is a great place to pick up a few famous stamps for those who collect.
Another great destination is the Bermuda Maritime Museum, which explores the history of the island. Construction started in 1809, and continued for a century. The 10 acre keep complete with citadel, arsenal and numerous gun sites dates back to the days of pirates and pathfinders.
If beaches are your thing, Horseshoe Bay is the place to go. It is certainly the most famous beach in Bermuda and has been rated the eighth best beach in the world by Trip Advisor. It lies on the islands south coast in the parish of Southhampton. The sand is extremely fine and very white in colour.
Bermuda's climate gives way to some fantastic tropical plants and the Bermuda Botanical Gardens is a great way to see them. The 36 acre park of flowers, shrubs and trees are a short drive from downtown Hamilton, but because the transit system in Bermuda is excellent, it will take little time to get there. If you are into golf, there are lots of courses, and in two weeks the Port Royal golf course will host the PGA championship.
During my first visit to Bermuda I fell in love with Tuckers Town Peninsula, a 3 km long stretch within the small settlement of Tuckers Town. The area contains some of the most exclusive and expensive properties in the world and is the haunt of foreign millionaires, attracted to the area by its climate, surroundings and tax-free status. Access is restricted and it could be difficult to get in, but if you can, a visit is worthwhile. At the southern tip of the peninsula is Natural Arches Beach which was noted for its natural rock formations and caves until they were largely destroyed by hurricane Fabian in 2003.
The climate in Bermuda is humid subtropical, and the island is warmed by the nearby Gulf Stream. This makes for milder temperatures in winter, however, do not expect 30° weather in January. The average temperature in February is around 20° and winds can bring it to just above freezing. In summer, however, the temperature hovers around 28°, making it comfortable for all types of activities.
If you enjoy history, beaches, good food and relaxation, all in a safe, ‘very British’ environment, then give Bermuda a visit. It makes for a great long weekend getaway.
Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit photosNtravel.com