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Ask the Locals Travel Guide: Bermuda

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Those pink-sand beaches, coral reefs teeming with brilliant marine life, and and centuries-old architecture: that’s the Bermuda we know from all the pictures. But as the locals know, the island is packed with experiences from shipwreck diving to beach hikes to petting a friendly fish named Darth Vader. Keep reading to find out what the locals recommend on the island of Bermuda.

Graham Maddocks, owner of Triangle Diving Bermuda

I am from the eastern side of the island, from St. George’s Town, which is practically a living museum, dating back to 1612.

Walk through the little back lane of the old town and make your way over the hill to the Tobacco Bay beach bar. It’s a real beach bar, with simple and fresh food—Nick is a great cook and a lot of fun.

Rent a motor scooter and venture over to St.David’sisland. This is real old Bermuda and a bit off the beaten track for most tourists. Stop at the Black Horse Tavern to try some of their world-famous fish chowder. (Tell them that Graham sent you!)

Bermuda's South ShoreThere’s a reason why Bermuda is called the “shipwreck capital of the Atlantic.” My company, Triangle Diving at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort offers dives on amazing World War II shipwrecks. One of my favorites is the Iristo, which sank in 1937. She sits in about 45 feet of water and is completely covered in coral, with old fire engines still on her decks.

No trip to Bermuda is complete without a visit to the Swizzle Inn and trying one of its famous rum swizzles.

But if you really want to go deep into local territory then slip on down the road to the Jamaican grill. Turn right at Tony’s grocery
store
, go down the dirt road to the back of the cricket field where there is a little green hut. Make sure to go inside and say “Good afternoon” in a friendly voice. This is the place for good, home-cooked West Indies cuisine, like ox tail stew, peas and rice jerk chicken, steamed collard greens, and dumplings. Take your plate out side sit on a milk cart or a plywood table, or on the grass over looking the cricket field.

Head west down north shore till you get to Flatts Village. Here, the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo is a must-see.  Ask if someone will take you in the back to pet Darth Vader, the 80-pound Bermuda black grouper. He’ll actually come to the top of the tank; when you stop petting, he blows water to get you to keep going. It’s the craziest thing.

Also, every summer, the aquarium hosts a turtle tagging program that people can join if they make arrangements ahead of time.

Travel to the south side of the island for the most beautiful beaches you ever seen. Warwick Long Bay and Horsehoe Bay are the biggest ones. But here is the inside scoop: You can walk from one beach to the other and in between the two beaches are several little private coves.

Now ride to the west end all the way to Somerset. The Hayden trust property is a little hard to find, but very cool. It’s about 10 acres, put aside for people to
walk around and enjoy the gardens and views. The neat thing is that it has a
very, very small, very old chapel where the local Catholic nuns chant in Latin
around 4 p.m.

Jobsons Cove, Bermuda - David LaHutaIn the first first few weeks of November, the national bird of Bermuda, the Cohow flies back to island. There are only about 85 breading pairs left in the world and they only nest on one or two little islands on the southeastern side of Bermuda. We’ll take you out to see them and, if it’s very windy out, they are amazing acrobats.

David LaHuta, television host, journalist and founder of Bermuda Shorts blog

Almost everyone visits Bermuda for its famed pink-sand beaches, but unlike many other islands, finding a slice to call your own is a relatively easy task. Some
of my favorites are on the eastern tip of the island atCooper’s Island Nature Preserve, a former U.S. naval base that’s now home to some of Bermuda’s
most secluded beaches.

With more than 300 days of sunshine per year plus miles of well-groomed hiking trails, Bermuda is perfect for active travelers.

Try a half-day beach hike along the island’s stunning south shore. Wear Keen-style sandals or durable water shoes—anything you don’t mind getting wet—and start your hike from Horseshoe Bay beach.

Heading east you’ll pass through tiny Chaplin and Stonehole Bays and gorgeous Jobson’s Cove before ending up at the pink-sand Warwick Long Bay.

Church Bay, Bermuda - photo by David LaHutaLooking for the best place to don your snorkel mask and fins? Then look no further than Church Bay on Bermuda’s south shore. The small cove is home to schools of parrotfish, blue angels and sergeant majors plus thriving corals breakers just 100 yards offshore.

Little known fact: Bermuda is not one island, but an archipelago of more than 180 smaller islets and cays.

Explore them at your leisure by renting a boat from H20 Sports, an on-site marine center at Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa. For around $50 an hour you’ll get a 17-foot bimini-topped powerboat including a cooler full of ice. Cruise to chest-high sand bars, motor past craggy rock formations or drop anchor near one of Bermuda’s more than 300 shipwrecks for an up-close underwater view.

Don’t leave the island without trying a bowl of Bermuda fish chowder, a tomato-based seafood and vegetable stew traditionally served with a dash of Gosling’s Black Seal rum and Outerbridge’s Sherry Pepper Sauce. It’s hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t serve it, but two of my favorites are in the city of Hamilton: the Hog Penny, a traditional English pub, and the Lobster Pot, a casual seafood restaurant popular with locals.

If you’re headed to Bermuda during the summer months—between Memorial Day and Labor Day—don’t miss the Friday evening happy hours at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and Newstead Belmont Hills hotels. The two harborfront parties start around 5:30 p.m. and by 6 p.m., they’re packed with well-dressed locals sipping potent rum swizzles—a perfect way to kick off a sunny Bermuda weekend.

Glenn Jones, general manager of Bermuda.com & former press secretary to Premier Dr. Ewart Brown

Although I was born and raised in Bermuda, I’m still making cool discoveries of my own.

Royal Naval Dockyard wallsI recommend getting out on the water and being your own pilot. I had some friends visiting who were keen to get out on a boat. I don’t have a boat and don’t have any friends who trust me with theirs, so I found a place called Dreamcatcher Boat Rentals. They gave us a quick lesson and a pontoon boat. We headed out with six people, an iPod, and a cooler full of food and drinks. We even pulled that little pontoon boat on the shore of a little island and had our own private beach party. It was the best day of the summer.

For history and culture, head to either the extreme west end or the extreme east end of the island. In the west is the Royal Naval Dockyard with its centuries-old structures, museums and artist market. In the east end is St. Peter’s Church, one of the oldest continuously operational churches in the Western hemisphere, a well-maintained slave burial ground, and an ancient unfinished church that is breathtakingly beautiful.

You can eat in Bermuda for 30 nights straight and not be disappointed. There are so many spectacular choices: Mickey’s Beach Bistro & Bar inside the Mandarin Oriental for its atmosphere; Blu Bar & Grill in Warwick for its diverse menu and wine options; and Latin for its nuevo Latino appetizers and vibrant rum bar.

Edited by Sarika Chawla for PeterGreenberg.com. Photos by David LaHuta.

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