Stay Away From Horseshoe Bay! The Perfect 12 Hours in Bermuda

Jo Piazza
Managing Editor
August 5, 2014

Why head to the most crowded beach on the island when you can have this little nook all to yourself? (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Twelve hours. That was all the time I had to spend in Bermuda after a brief Celebrity Cruise down from New York City. Determined to make the most of it, I reached out to my one Bermudan friend from college, who told me very simply to start my day on a boat. She did not steer me wrong.

Get on a boat as early in the day as possible. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

The Rising Son II is owned by Captain Steve and is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. No matter how old you are, it would be impossible not to have fun on Steve’s three-hour tour, which departs conveniently from the same dockyard as the cruise ships.

From there, Steve and his devilishly handsome (and funny) crew whisk you away to a hidden cove that is perfect for snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding away for the next two hours. Don’t worry, mom and dad: There is also a plentiful cash bar. Try the rum swizzle … it won’t be your last of the day. The swizzle is Bermuda’s national drink — a combination of Gosling’s Black Seal and Gold Rum with fruit juice. 

“We have enough rum aboard to kill your entire cruise ship,” Steve promised.

Steve’s first mate explains how to use a snorkel. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

The boat offers paddleboards, kayaks, and snorkel equipment. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

After the Rising Son drops you back at the dockyard, hop the ferry to the historic town of St. George’s. Tickets are just $4 and the ride is only 30 minutes. Spend a bit of time walking around the UNESCO World Heritage site, which is the oldest continually inhabited town of English origin in the New World. Do a little shopping. I discovered an adorable bookstore for buying used trashy novels and a little vintage shop tucked into an alleyway. You’ll also want to pay a visit to St. Peter’s, Their Majesties Chappell, the oldest Anglican Church in continuous use outside of the British Isles.

Pulling into the dock in St. George’s (Photo: Jo Piazza)

The brightly colored shops of St. George’s (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Pop into this adorable vintage shop down the alleyway. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Grab a new novel at this little book nook. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Head into the White Horse Pub & Restaurant for a quick bite or drink. Order the french fries, but don’t eat them. Instead, dump them over the veranda into the water. After seeing all the fish that swarm your fries, you’ll be happy you didn’t make the trip to the aquarium.

The locally owned White Horse is the perfect place for a pint. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Peep into the bright-salmon town hall to take a look at the collection of portraits of past mayors before climbing the hill for Duke of Kent Street toward the unfinished church. Pass the beautiful (but indeed unfinished) structure and head toward the water in the distance.

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The shockingly sherbert-colored St. George’s Town Hall. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Horseshoe Bay may be the postcard beach in Bermuda, but it is also one of the most crowded beaches in the world — there can be 5,000 people on that beach in a day. You want to get off the beaten path. You want to go to Tobacco Bay. Here, you can rent snorkeling gear, kayaks, and paddleboards for reasonable prices, grab a drink at the Tobacco Bar, or just lounge under an umbrella. The black lava rocks provide incredible scenery and the fish are easy to spot even without goggles.

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There are enough people at Tobacco Bay beach that you’ll feel social, but enough seclusion that you can definitely find a spot all to yourself. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Gypsy cabs line up right next to the beach. This is where I met Q. He calls himself one of the five best cab drivers in Bermuda, and everyone on the island knows him. When you get out at the St. George’s ferry dock, you can actually ask just about any local if they know how to reach Q and they will ring up his taxi.

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Take a quickie cab ride to the caves at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort. Most tourists pay big money to see Crystal Cave, but the ones in Grotto Bay are lovely and free.

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You’ll be hungry by now. Head up the hill to the Swizzle Inn for a pitcher of rum swizzle and a Bailey’s Bay fish sandwich: beer-battered fish with melted cheddar cheese and tartar sauce.

The Swizzle Inn might look ordinary, but the food and the service will both delight you. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

A fish sandwich so fresh, it pretty much jumps off your plate (Photo: Jo Piazza)

The bus stops right outside the inn and will take you into the heart of Hamilton in 20 minutes for a little bit of shopping. 

Quick, before the sun goes down: Hop on yet another ferry ($4, 20 minutes) back to the dockyard. Just a short walk away is Black Bay Beach, one of the prettiest spots to see the sunset on the island. 

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