One of New Englanders’ favorite summer vacation destinations, the beautiful island of Bermuda — a tropical paradise known for its history, gorgeous pink-sand beaches, delicious cuisine and friendly people — is just two hours from Boston by air.
Though I’m typically not inclined to visit tropical islands when I go on vacation — I can get a sunburn in less time than it takes most people to get through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru — there’s something about Bermuda that makes me want to return again and again. It could be because the landscape is often so stunning that it doesn’t seem quite real. Or because I’m a history geek (the first Europeans to inhabit the island were blown off course by a hurricane on their way to the English settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1609). It might also be that all the people I’ve met in Bermuda are so friendly and pleasant that they make me wish I never had to leave. Most likely it’s a combination of these things that makes the island a one-of-a-kind, must-see destination.
I visited Bermuda, which is a self-governing British territory, most recently in May and stayed at the historic Rosedon Hotel in Hamilton. Originally built as a private home, in 1906, the boutique property is located within walking distance of downtown Hamilton’s shops, restaurants and busy waterfront. Small when compared with Bermuda’s grand resorts, the Rosedon offers just the right blend of old-fashioned colonial charm, high-end amenities and tranquil atmosphere to make you feel as if you’re a guest in someone’s home.
The hotel’s 40 guest rooms are comfortable, elegantly decorated and loaded with tropical island charm. One of my favorite things about the Rosedon, though, is the tropical garden surrounding the pool. Banana trees, birds of paradise, bougainvillea, passionflowers and a variety of palms and other plants offer shelter from the sun. The garden also provides a habitat for Bermuda’s great kiskadees — delightful brown and yellow birds found just about everywhere on the island — and whistling tree frogs, thumbnail-size amphibians whose nocturnal calls, combined with the white lights strung among the trees, give the garden a magical feeling at night.
Rosedon’s on-site restaurant, Huckleberry, named in honor of Mark Twain, who made frequent visits to Bermuda, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as daily afternoon tea and a variety of creative craft cocktails. Tables are available in the main hotel and outside on the wide covered porch. The restaurant’s menu offers a number of items with clear nods to America’s South — a tribute to Twain’s classic novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” — along with local seafood dishes and locally grown produce.
I had the pleasure to dine at Huckleberry a few times during my stay. I especially enjoyed the local grilled rockfish that was added to one of the restaurant’s signature salads for lunch. The sorbet, made in house from fresh fruit, was as delicious as it was refreshing. I also liked that the waitstaff at Huckleberry was gracious and attentive without being overly involved in my meal.
Here’s a tip: If you’re from a place like the Northeast, where people are always in a hurry, don’t expect your waiter to come to your table immediately after you sit down. Waitstaff in Bermuda typically like to give guests a few minutes to settle in and look over their menus before saying hello.
Huckleberry is popular with locals and visitors staying at nearby hotels, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation in advance.
Even if, like me, you’re not a fan of sunbathing, you don’t want to miss a visit to the beach. The Rosedon offers free daily shuttle service to nearby Elbow Beach, about a 15-minute ride from the hotel. For a reasonable fee, you can take advantage of Elbow Beach’s resort amenities and enjoy a picnic lunch. Or, you can set yourself up on the public section of the beach free of charge. Either way, the sand is pink and as soft as powder, and the oversize waves make for a fun way to cool off. Just be sure to bring lots of sunscreen.
When you’ve had your fill of sun and sand, Bermuda offers many other things to do. You can spend time browsing downtown Hamilton’s shops or take the ferry to the Royal Naval Dockyard, a 19th century walled fort known today for its shopping and dining, and as the home of the National Museum of Bermuda. Pay a visit to the Crystal and Fantasy caves, amazing underground networks full of unique rock formations. Several companies offer sailing and snorkeling excursions, and you will want to make sure to visit the town of St. George’s, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was the home of the island’s first permanent English settlement.
I recommend seeing as much of the island as you can.
Options for getting around in Bermuda include bicycles (the Rosedon has some that guests can use for free), rented motor scooters, a good public bus system, and a large network of taxis. Just keep in mind that the traffic in Bermuda travels on the left side of the road.