Bermuda (Devil’s Isle), Part 1 of 3

It seems like 6+ months since our plane dipped from the clouds and glided along the turquoise waters and emerald landscapes of Bermuda on our approach to L.F. Wade International on St. David’s Island. A business trip later, and some massive changes at work, and the restorative effects of that special island have been reduced to a severe longing for a rebook.

It was a grand trip though and I’ve finally scratched out a day-by-day summary using the meta data from my digital photographs and a semi-permeable memory.

Before we begin…

Whenever possible I’ve linked to photos on Flickr from the Limestone Archives. In most cases, those photos have a description with additional details about the object or place.

»This symbol refers to a tip that follows the day-by-day entry.

Day 1
We stayed at The Reefs in Southampton which is marketed as a “beach front boutique hotel.” We’ve been going to The Reefs since the 80s and have watched it evolve into a “boutique” whilst retaining its rich history and tradition. The Reefs opened in 1947 and Beautiful Bermuda: The Standard Guide to Bermuda (1947) describes it thusly:

“The Reefs is Bermuda’s New Cabana Club, a Cottage Type of Hotel Living. The “Motor Age” has made it possible to develop “The Reefs” which is located on Christian Bay, Southampton Parish. This section is know as Fort Royal, and we find it so marked on an old Bermuda Map of 1626, also showing it as the location of one of the original Forts…Perched on a bluff, overlooking a private, secluded coral beach and protected bay. “The Reefs” combines the most modern conveniences with the charm of old Bermuda.”

There isn’t a bad view at The Reefs and my happy spot is from any cliff side balcony.

After exploring the hotel and surveying the beach, we »rented scooters for the week from Oleander Cycles. Our “orientation” ride was to Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. The cast-iron lighthouse is very close to The Reefs and some sketches (and photos) from the beachfront show the lighthouse in the background. We »climbed the 185 steps and were rewarded with incredible views of the island.

The Reefs (1947)

We had dinner in Hamilton at the Hog Penny Pub on Burnaby Street and the bangers & mash was Old Ship quality.

»Rent scooters for the entire length of your stay. The island is very expensive, and the flexibility of being able to shop at local grocery stores is a great way to save money. Also, the transit options in Bermuda are great (ferry, bus, taxi, etc.) but the scooter buys you time and access to parts of the island (e.g. nature reserves) that aren’t always convenient.

»Climb everything and anything you’re allowed to climb. This includes steps in historic buildings (Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity), trails in nature reserves (Spittal Pond Nature Reserve), forts (Gates, Scaur, St. Catherine’s, etc.), and slopes (Botanical Gardens). The vantage is always worth the effort.

Day 2
We drove west to visit Somerset Bridge— the world’s smallest working drawbridge. The bridge links Sandy’s Parish with Somerset Island.

I like to choose a place I would live wherever I travel (here’s an example) and I found my Bermuda home on our first full day. In this case, it was a little fixer-upper near the bridge. We also explored Scaur Hill Fort and Park on our way to the Royal Naval Dockyard.

We didn’t spend too much time in the Royal Naval Dockyard; we had an appointment at the hotel and were clock-watching (on vacation). It can be a little hectic too (this is code for touristy) since this is where the cruise ships dock. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped for a »Barritt’s Ginger Beer at RUBiS on Boaz Island.

We went to Hamilton again for dinner (all roads lead to Hamilton) and this time ate at trendy Bulli.Social. After dinner, we continued on to St. George for some day trip scouting. In transit, my brother did a good impression of Tom Cruise in Top Gun on Kindley Field Road with his scooter at max. speed. We were starting to lose sunlight, but did stop at Gates Fort for some photos.

»Drink Barritt’s Ginger Beer whenever you can.

Day 3
We spent our third afternoon in the Town of St. George. We visited Stella Maris Church (RC), the Unfinished Church, Somers Garden, St. Peter’s, and Bermuda’s 400th Anniversary Monument. We also walked around town to take pictures before our dinner reservations at Wahoo’s Waterside Bistro & Patio. The streets in St. George are tightly clustered and should be ambled.

Bermuda Fact: Sir George Somers was at the helm of the Sea Venture in 1609 and deliberately drove the ship onto the reefs to prevent its floundering. All 150 passengers survived. The survivors later built two ships — Patience and Deliverance — using cedar and remains of the Sea Venture to continue their journey to Virginia. You can see a replica of the Deliverance on Ordnance Island in St. George.

In Part 2, I’ll pick up with days 4.

“These little islands are thickly covered with cedar groves, through the vistas of which you catch a few pretty white houses, which my poetical shortsightedness always transforms into temples.” – Tom Moore

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