Two Days in Bermuda: make your own excursion
We recently took our first cruise and had part of two days in Bermuda. We did lots of research and made lots of plans. Having more than one plan and being flexible is what saved our vacation. Flexibility is the best attitude you can have on vacation. It will save you every time. I have tried to gather tons of information below. This post is full of videos and links so that you can plan the best Bermuda excursions on your next trip to Bermuda.
Plan A: Tea at the Pink Princess
We were planning to get off the ship at around 1 and catch the ferry to Hamilton for some shopping and tea at the high tea at the Hamilton Princess Hotel and Beach Club. Having high tea was high on my list. But as I researched, finding a beach was becoming a bigger priority and that lead me to plan B.
Here is a video that tells you a little about this luxury hotel:
Plan B: The unfinished church and a beach
On the opposite end of the island where we docked is St George. I watched tons of videos and everyone was going to a beautiful church ruin called The Unfinished Church, and I decided we needed to go too because it was so conveniently located on the way to the beach. I did lots of research and looked at ferry times and costs compared to taxi costs and travel time. The Ferry was the clear winner. We could get to the other side of the island on the ferry for around $20 total and 40 minutes traveling across the water. A taxi would cost more than 3x that amount and take over an hour. The only problem is that the ferries are made for commuters, not tourists and the schedule is very limited and that put us on a tight schedule. We planned to be off the boat by 1:00 and on the ferry by 1:45. We would take the ferry, walk to Fort St. Catherine, walk around, sit on the beach at Tobacco Bay and then grab the last ferry of the day back to the Dockyards.
The next day we were planning to stay close to the ship and see the historic Naval Dock Yard and museum and if time permitted we would walk to the Naval Graveyard and finish with some shopping and a simpler tea at an outdoor cafe before getting back on the ship and sailing away.
Here is another video that shows several of the places I mentioned here, including the unfinished church:
Plan C: What actually happened!
We watched the coast come into view. We were ready! We were pumped! We were excited to see a little bit of paradise from the deck. We watched and waited, an announcement was made that a ship was in our dock and we would be in port later than expected. We saw 1:00 pass, 1:45 went by and our ferry left without us while we were still on the ship. We had to change our plans at the last minute to make the most of the time we had. We did not actually get off the boat until 3. We had about two and a half hours before it started to get dark and shops and attractions started closing. We decided to stay close and see the Royal Navy Dockyard and figure out a new plan for the next day.
We had a wonderful tour of the grounds, the Governor’s house, and some museum exhibits. that was fascinating. As I approached the Governor’s house I kept thinking I would love to know what this kind of architecture is called? I’ve seen it a few times in coastal places like Ernest Hemingway’s House in Key West, FL and I love it. Walking inside and all around transported me to a Pirates of the Caribbean Movie. We could see the sea at every vantage point. There were paths that lead to courtyards and caves. There were plaques to read that explained how this island was uninhabited by humans until shipwrecks crushed the dreams of explorers and erased the profits of merchants crossing the Atlantic. This island was a gift to those stranded in the middle of this great ocean. We learned how slavery was brought to this island and that half the population can trace their ancestry back to a shipwrecked slave ship. The slaves were given the choice of staying on the island or continuing to the new world. All but one family stayed in Bermuda.
We explored and read everything we could before we left at closing time to find a treat and see if there was anything else fun to do nearby. We wanted to sit down and have tea at a cafe, but they were closed so we found ice cream and some shops to wander through. As we were walking back we saw a sign for Fun Golf and thought mini golf would be fun, but this was no ordinary game of mini golf. For one thing, the Atlantic ocean at dusk was the backdrop of this course. Bermuda is known as a golfers haven and even this mini golf course is serious about golf. There are no fake waterfalls dyed blue, not one windmill or t-rex ready to swat your ball away from the hole. There is nothing fake here, only the deep blue of the ocean sending waves crashing to a rocky shore. Each hole is an actual miniature version of a real golf hole in the real world. Each hole represents 6 each of the ‘best’ holes in the U.S., Bermuda, and Scotland. It was the most fun I have ever had playing a game of mini golf. I’ve been dragged through a lot of mini golf. I mostly tolerate it because my people like it, but I would absolutely come and do this again.
We got back to the boat in time to change into something nice for dinner and as we sat and talked about the day and what we would do the next day, it became clear that we wanted to do two things, shop and have tea. The clockwork mall and a sweet pastry shop were just steps from the dock so we knew if we could end up there by noon we would have time for both before returning to the ship. I had read about an old naval graveyard that was really interesting and beautiful so I thought what if we get a cab to that graveyard and then walk back and find a beach to sit at on the way, we would pretty much have done everything on the list.
We left the ship that morning and there was a man waiting to usher people into cabs asking where we wanted to go. I told him our request may sound weird. His eyebrows lifted and he was interested. I told him we wanted to see the old Naval Graveyard. He said with a smile, “I know exactly who I am going to send you with. He is my best driver.” So he introduced us to ‘Two Eggs’ and told him where we wanted to go. Two Eggs looked at us and said, “Ahh now, I can take you. Are you sure that is all you want to see?”
I replied, “Well, what else do you recommend to a family that loves to visit graveyards and churches and needs to be back by noon?”
“Ahh now, I know a few places.” So we got in the taxi and we were the recipients of the best tour we could have imagined for ourselves. He took us to graveyards and churches, lighthouses and forts. He showed us hidden vistas we would never have searched for and told us stories about life on the island. We saw where his sister is buried and met his twin brother. We passed his wife and his mom as they were going the other direction and they honked at each other. Honking is actually a thing they do to say hi on the road. There was nothing about rage in the quick bursts that interrupted our conversation. We talked about the flowers and the trees of the island, the granite walls built on this granite island and he explained the precious water supply that is gathered as rain falls on the white painted roofs of every building. We were utterly intoxicated by the beauty of this place and the pride he bears for his island, which has been his home all these last 76 years.
He brought us back in time for our shopping and our tea and made us promise to let him drive us around the next time we visit his island. No cruise line could have planned a better excursion or delivered it for that price. The cost of those hours in the taxi with Two Eggs was less for all four of us than the cost of any excursion I saw listed for just one person.
On our way to tea, we explored the Clock Tower Mall which reminded us of The Covered Market in England. Some of us bought souvenirs and gifts to bring home for friends and family. There is a lot of neat shopping to do in that area. There is a glassworks and a shop that sells things hand made by Bermudians. I wish I had had more time to shop there and find something beautiful, but I was feeling the time crunch to get back to the ship before it left without us.
The last thing we did in Bermuda was sitting under an umbrella and have tea and pastries like the civilized people that we are. It was not exactly the high tea I had planned on at the Pink Princess Hotel. But we were completely satisfied with the twists and turns our visit to Bermuda had taken as we traveled that two-lane road that runs the length of this beautiful piece of granite sticking out of the Atlantic Ocean.
Excursion Options for you to consider that only require a taxi and a willingness for adventure
Bermuda is a small island, but it will take you over an hour to get from end to end on the single road that stretches the length. Heavy traffic make the 22 miles a slow trip and they drive the left side of the road just like they do in England and that takes some getting used to. Along with the fact that you cannot rent a car on the island means you should be prepared to travel by bus, ferry or taxi. You can rent motorbikes, but I have heard from experienced bikers, that biking on this island is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced. It is a dangerous proposition so rider beware.
All beaches in Bermuda are public beaches. There is not a charge to sit on any beach. But you will find beaches where you can rent a chair, a towel or snorkel gear so that you don’t have to carry it on or off the boat with you.
Swim with the Dolphins, this experience is so close to the dock. This is a really easy excursion to get to. It also has a high per person price tag.
The Royal Navy Dockyard is great for history buffs and museum-goers. The Naval Cemetery is really not a bad walk at all. And there is a natural beach area in the vicinity that you pass on your walk there and it might be nice to sit on the rocks and watch the ocean for a while.
Fun Golf Park is great with kids and so affordable as an excursion with lots of people.
The Art Museum and Botanical Gardens would make a lovely afternoon.
Horseshoe Bay Beach which we saw on our taxi tour. You will notice we did not lay on a beach at all and I am sad about that, but it was October and the day we had to sit on the beach was not exactly beach weather.
Gibbs Hill Lighthouse is a great place to stop and on certain days you can climb all the way to the top.
Fort St. Catherine is another old fort that feels like a fortress right on the edge of the ocean.
Fort St. Catherine Beach is, as you can imagine, very close to the fort, so you can visit the historic fort and then sit on the beach for a while.
Tobacco Bay Beach is another beach that is close enough to walk to and offers lots of amenities.
The town of St George is a world heritage site so stroll through the streets to duck in and out of cute shops is a great way to spend some time and money in paradise. Shopping and tea at King’s Square are on my list for my next trip to Bermuda.
Perfumery where you can also have tea on certain days of the week.
I would love to know any other suggestions for excursions on this wonderful paradise of an island. Please comment so that I can fill a notebook with ideas for our next trip to Bermuda because I am certain this will not be our only visit to this glorious island.
You can see more of our island adventures here from our trip to Key West.