If you missed the windswept beaches—and gridlock traffic—of the Hamptons this summer, consider making up for it with a jaunt to Bermuda. From an East Coast hub, you can take the first plane out—American Airlines just added a new route from D.C.—and be on the island’s famous pink-sand beaches by lunchtime. To make travel even more hassle-free, U.S. visitors clear customs automatically when they fly home. Just land, and you can head straight for an Uber as if you had returned on a domestic flight.
While Britain’s oldest colony is steeped in history and tradition, it has a newfound vibrancy—and, according to the Bermuda Tourist Authority, a dramatic upsurge in millennial visitors, drawn by the incredible diving and snorkeling, a buzzing restaurant scene, and the island’s quirky appeal. Here, some ideas for the perfect restorative weekend.
Where To Stay
Drop your bags at the Rosedon Hotel, a stately historic mansion steps away from the capital of Hamilton that has been in the same family for three generations. Fresh off of a renovation, the luxe Relais & Chateaux property has revived its 40 rooms while retaining its lovely old-school charm (male staff members wear Bermuda shorts and kneesocks, and traditional British afternoon tea is served every afternoon).
Decompress with a Wahoo fish sandwich on the breezy wraparound porch at the sea-to-table restaurant Huckleberry, or lounge by the tropical flower-bedecked pool with a Dark and Stormy (dark rum with ginger beer and a slice of lime). Then it’s time to explore: grab a complimentary bike for a spin along the lush Pitts Bay Road, or rent a tiny two-person electric car called the Renault Twizy (the rental office is right next door to the Rosedon). As tourists aren’t allowed to rent full-size cars, noisy mopeds have always been the primary mode of transport on the island. These safe, zero-emission electric cars are a smarter option.
Where to Eat
Everything from sauces to the bread is made in-house at the industrial-chic Devil’s Isle. The produce is clean, organic, locally sourced—and delicious. Get the Nourish Bowl (greens, roasted cherry tomatoes, fermented fennel, and coconut oil-roasted beets) or the rockfish tacos with mango and chipotle aioli. Carnivores will love the juicy natural burger, ground in-house and served on a home-baked ciabatta bun. Drinks are innovative and playful, such as the Parasol, a bracing blend of Prosecco, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Lillet Blanc, vermouth, honey and lemon.
Snag a seat on the outdoor terrace at Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s namesake restaurant Marcus’ for epic views of the turquoise waters of Hamilton Harbor. Situated in the legendary pink Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, the island’s only celebrity chef-run restaurant deftly turns out dishes such as lobster tacos and seared Sinky Bay snapper. Sunday brunch is especially festive, with a Deconstructed Cod Breakfast (Sameulsson’s whimsical take on Bermuda’s traditional codfish and potatoes dish) and a buffet-style spread including a taco cart, a Caribbean corner specializing in regional specialities, and a station offering local ice creams.
The Bridge Trading Post is a homey cake shop that opened in a former post office next to what’s touted as the world’s smallest drawbridge. Owner Alaina Trott, the daughter of a postal worker, keeps up the building’s tradition by renting mailboxes, so residents swing by all day to pick up their mail—and stay to linger over Trott’s delectable slices of homemade chocolate or red velvet cake. Trott decides what to bake the night before, so the selection always varies—one day it’s coconut, the next pineapple upside down cake.
Where To Shop
For elegant, beautifully tailored Bermuda shorts— a garment originally created for British officers stationed on the island during World War II—proceed directly to TABS. Founder and designer Rebecca Singleton offers them in over 30 vibrant colors (we’re partial to Coral Beach). While you’re there, pick up a bikini from eco-friendly beachwear line Daughters of Summer, which was recently launched by Bermuda native Kim Deuss. You’d never know these chic, well-fitting swimsuits were made from recycled marine plastics such as fishing line and water bottles.
Salt + Cedar’s new minimalist storefront on Hamilton Street carries green beauty products such as Leahlani and SunTegrity sunscreen. Founder Andrea Fubler, a former holistic nutritionist, seeks out woman-owned companies. One is Tricia Lines, a small-batch body care company from Bermudan Tricia Lines Hill. Her lotions, washes and scrubs use natural, organic ingredients that remind her of growing up on the island—such as lemon mint, which smells like an ocean breeze blowing in a Bermuda orchard.
What To Do
With 75 miles of dramatic coastline, Bermuda has no shortage of beaches—but Rachel Sawden, a model who has lived on the island her entire life, says the best ones are hidden gems that you can only get to by boat. She recommends renting a Boston Whaler—a small boat that you can pilot yourself with a quick lesson (no captain necessary!) at the water sports shop of the Grotto Bay Hotel in Hamilton Parish. Ask them for directions to Frick’s Point Beach, which (unless you’re the owner of one of the mansions that line the beach) is only accessible by water. “It’s a shallow bay, and the waters glow electric blue in the sunlight, and it’s usually flat calm,” she says. Then head east to Castle Island, where you can explore a 17th-century fort, and to Charles Island with its blissfully quiet beach. “Getting there requires a very small boat that can fit under the causeway, so you'll be a world away from the large charter boats and the other tourists,” Sawden says. She also recommends Grape Bay Beach, a local’s secret with powder-soft sand. “It’s accessible only at the end of two private residential roads, and one of the few beaches that has surf-able waves in the winter.”
A new app called Winnow, created by Bermudans, offers an enticing number of curated, off-the-grid experiences. You can explore private mangroves by paddleboard, learn croquet on the plush green lawns of the storied (and members-only) Coral Beach Club, or forage for wild herbs on Cooper’s Island, one of Bermuda’s most protected natural habitats. You can book and pay for your adventure directly on the app.
Grab a cold-pressed juice at OM Juicery where owner Preston James Ephraim takes “live juice” to another level. In the morning, he meets with local Bermudan farmers and selects their newly picked produce, which is transformed within hours into a jewel-toned libation.
Then bike the Bermuda Railway Trail, a former train track that’s now a National Park with a ridiculously scenic eighteen-mile cycling path that winds through quaint parishes and rocky, sea-splashed coastline. Start at the beautifully preserved historic town of St. George’s, a UNESCO World Heritage site with rows of houses the color of Jordan almonds. Rent a bike at Oleander Cycles and, after exploring the town, recharge with an espresso at the bright, modern Victoire Café and Cycle Club.
Bermuda’s waters have more shipwrecks per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Book a private charter from True Bermuda and freedive through dozens of shipwrecks, among them the HMS Vixen, a gunboat from the Royal Navy that sunk in 1896. Or snorkel the vast coral reefs that teem with an astonishing array of wildlife: blue angelfish, neon-bright parrotfish, placid green turtles, and, if you’re lucky, delicate, otherworldly seahorses.
Originally Appeared on Vogue