Bermuda: a short travel guide

Simon Calder offers help and advice to those embarking on a Bermudan adventure


WHEN TO GO

From December to March, temperatures are often low. Added to the rain that is a perennial visitor to Bermuda (you are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, after all), a visit at this time of year can be decidedly chilly. But air fares and room rates are low, except around Christmas/New Year, and the territory is quiet and relaxed.

April and November are the "shoulder" months - with luck, you will get sunny, calm days. These months are second and third driest respectively, behind May - which in many respects is the ideal time: the weather will have settled into bright, warm days, and many of the places that close in "winter" will be open for business. Yet the influx of summer holidaymakers and cruise passengers will not yet have reached its peak.

From June until September, Bermuda is at its busiest, and prices for accommodation rise to reflect that. Furthermore, from August onwards the risk of hurricanes is at its highest; the most recent, Fabian in 2003, caused widespread damage.

GETTING THERE

The only airline with a direct link from the UK - or, for that matter, anywhere outside North America - is British Airways (0870 850 9 850; www.ba.com). From next weekend, BA will fly daily from Gatwick. Fares start at £662 return.

Travelling via the US is another option. American Airlines, Continental, Delta and US Airways fly from a range of East Coast hubs to Bermuda. This gives you the opportunity to combine New York or Washington with Bermuda, which makes up for the much longer journey time.

Two more solutions involve low-cost airlines from the US. USA3000 ( www.usa3000.com) flies twice a week from Baltimore and Newark for under $300 (£175) return, while jetBlue ( www.jetBlue.com) is soon to start flying twice-daily from New York JFK for around $375 (£220). So you could, for example, find a cheap flight to JFK and transfer there.

GETTING AROUND

Public transport - buses and ferries - is excellent, which is just as well because visitors are not allowed to rent cars. You can hire a scooter, a bicycle or an electric power-assisted bike, but road quality is uneven and the locals' standard of driving erratic.

One local habit is to sound the horn at every conceivable opportunity: to thank other motorists for their courtesy, to greet friends walking or driving past and, occasionally, as a warning instrument.

Bermuda's basic divisions are parishes: the territory was fairly arbitrarily carved up by the original settlers into a series of parishes from St George's in the east to Sandys (pronounced "sands") in the west. One example of this complicated system: St George's Island lies within St George's parish, which also includes St David's Island. The main settlement is called Town of St George, which everyone calls St George's. Another source of confusion: the neighbouring parish, Hamilton, is several parishes away from the City of Hamiton, which lies within Pembroke parish.

Bus: The network is centred on the smart new bus terminal in Hamilton, where computerised screens announce impending departures. Services are frequent on the main links to each end of Bermuda - St George and Dockyard - and regular enough to other destinations. Schedules are available at Visitors' Service Bureaux and in most hotels. Timekeeping is excellent.

Fares can be high for single journeys; the minimum is $3 (£1.70), even to go a few stops, though for journeys involving a connection you can get a free transfer from the driver. The exact fare has to be dropped into the box next to the driver. You are supposed to pay only in coins, but since this is Bermuda a solution will be found if you only have notes.

Unlimited-travel passes are much better value if you plan extensive trips around Bermuda. These range from one day for $12 (£7) to a week at $45 (£26), with children travelling at half price. These are also valid on ferry services.

Ferry: The SeaExpress network is based on the offers frequent departures on the "Blue Route" between Hamilton and Dockyard, taking 15 minutes, though some sailings call also at other West End ports. "Pink Route" services link the capital with communities just across the harbour. The "Orange Route" starts in Hamilton, serves Dockyard and ends in St George's, providing a faster option than the road journey, but only in summer. One-off journeys cost around $4 (£2.50), but all ferries are covered by Bermuda's travel passes.

Scooters: "You can recognise the visitors by their grazes", says one local, referring to the number of tourists who take a tumble from their rented scooters. Plenty of outlets will hire you a scooter, or "cycle", as they are called locally. A handy company is Oleander Cycles (00 1 441 236 2453), which has five branches dotted around Bermuda. Another firm in Hamilton is Smatt's on Pitts Bay Road (00 1 441 295 1180). Eve's Cycle (00 1 441 236 6247; www.evecycles.com) will meet you from your plane if you plan in advance. Expect to pay around $60 (£35) per day.

Bicycles: "Real" pedal cycles can be rented, for example from Eve's as mentioned above, for $25 (£15) per day. One location, EZ Rider (00 1 441 777 3500), even offers electrically-assisted bikes.

You are required by law (and common sense) to wear a helmet.

ACCOMMODATION

You will pay handsomely for a place to stay in Bermuda, but in return you will find high quality and a friendly welcome. At the top end, the Fairmont Princess in Hamilton (see page VI) offers the five-star experience. There are a number of other big but less grand hotels, such as the Grotto Bay Beach resort. For a more individual experience, though, you should choose one of the many historic homes (by New World standards) that have been converted into upmarket accommodation.

Rates are high and largely non-negotiable; hoteliers would apparently rather leave rooms empty than reduce prices, though you could try asking for a corporate rate. And on top of published prices, you must add 10 per cent for "grats" (service charge) plus 7.25 per cent government hotel tax.

Rates are usually room-only. At some smaller properties, though, you may get some extras, such as sparkling wine on arrival, afternoon tea and breakfast.

Plan well ahead; unlike many destinations, simply turning up and taking pot luck is a poor strategy. Many places are booked up weeks or months ahead. Also, there is a certain inflexibility among smaller accommodation providers: even though they may have empty rooms, if you phone or call in on the day, you may be told that they are simply not ready.

Buying a package holiday, for example through British Airways Holidays (0870 243 3407; www.baholidays.com) or Kuoni (01306 740 888; www.kuoni.co.uk), can work out as the cheapest option, as well as bringing robust protection if things go awry.

MONEY

Reflecting Bermuda's main trading partner, the local currency is on a par with the US dollar. The Bermuda dollar has its own coins and notes, which are interchangeable at par with American currency. Outside Bermuda, however, the local currency is hard to convert, so before you leave, make sure your funds are all in US$ unless you want to bring back some colourful souvenirs. Banks and hotels will change Sterling for dollars, but you are likely to get a more favourable rate by using one of the many automatic teller machines.

TAXIS

Bermuda has hundreds of taxis, almost all of them MPVs capable of carrying four people and lots of luggage. The standing charge is $3.75 (£2), and each kilometre costs an additional $2 (£1.25). A short hop around town should therefore not be more than $8 (£4.50), but a tip of 15 per cent is expected, so plan to pay $10 (£6). The 16km ride between the airport and Hamilton, is likely to cost around $45 (£25) including tip. Taxi drivers are happy to be hired for several hours or a full day, and will reliably take you to places of interest with a colourful commentary. The standard rate is $36 (£20) per hour, with a minimum of three hours and a tip on top.

DRESS

If you are accustomed to the informality on most Caribbean islands, you should smarten up for Bermuda. Most restaurants - and even golf courses - insist on "smart casual" attire, and frown on jeans. In this conservative territory, topless sunbathing is unheard of, and beach attire is never seen away from the shoreline.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?