The name Bermuda conjures up images of pink sand and shorts, but there is a lot more to this tiny island nation than lazing on the beach or a rather questionable sartorial style —so much more that several cruise lines, including Norwegian (www.ncl.com) and Royal Caribbean International (www.royalcaribbean.com), have one-week voyages that only visit the island. Ships sail from the U.S. – usually New York or Boston – stay three nights, then head back, giving those on board time to get to know the island.
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That’s certainly worth doing because Bermuda is delightful. A British Overseas Territory in the Atlantic, some 650 miles off North Carolina, it is a little piece of England in the sun but with a large helping of African culture mixed in. Don’t be surprised to find they drive on the left and fly the Union Jack, but the local restaurants serve fish chowder and pawpaw casserole. It’s also pretty, clean, and friendly, and easy to explore by bus or ferry.
The pink sands and clear waters are top of the list for many, but thrill-seekers will find plenty to get the adrenalin pumping, with everything from sailing and caving to cliff-jumping and flyboarding, where powerful water jets fire you up into the air. You can dive down to the sunken wrecks and colorful reefs that surround the island without a PADI qualification on a resort course. If that sounds too adventurous, there’s snuba diving. It’s a cross between snorkeling and scuba, but you can dive to 20 feet as your regulator is attached to air tanks that float on a raft on the surface.
Away from the water, there’s hiking and biking – the 18-mile route along the old railway line is recommended as the roads are busy. Head to the Royal Naval Dockyard to learn about the island’s maritime history in the National Museum, shop for local arts and crafts, and try your hand riding a Segway – an upright scooter that’s powered by your balance. For a bird’s eye view of the island, there are aerial rides in a single-engine Cessna 172.
• There are no hire cars in Bermuda but the local buses (pink to match the sand!) and ferries are safe and easy to use. Travel passes costs $19 for one day and $31.50 for two.
• Take a break from your ship’s cuisine to dine with a Bermudian family in their own home. You’ll learn to prepare local dishes such as grilled red snapper and BBQ chicken before sitting down to taste your handiwork.
• Cruise ships visit in summer between May and October when the weather is hot and humid. Expect temperatures to average 75–85°F with short sharp showers.
For more travel advice, go to www.insightguides.com.