Bermuda Trip Notes

Ok so a little island time was long over due as Nutmeg pointed out it has been nine (9) years since we had been to an island and over 25 since her last visit to Bermuda! Bermuda is one of the most cosmopolitan of all the Atlantic/Caribbean islands with the British influence, global bank presence and established wealth it is not hard to imagine a fabulous vacation spot. The food was definitely tourist focused and priced accordingly, although we were not there long enough to find all of them we are certain there are some special spots. An almost hidden gem is Harry’s, located in an office complex by the Hamilton marina. This place has a great patio on a quiet cul de sac at the end of the marina. Great bar menu – must try the salt and pepper shrimp and the tuna carpaccio. They have a great cocktail selection and attentive wait staff. There is no danger of leaving hungry or thirsty from this place. We understand Friday afternoons this place rocks, for happy hour(s)…
Coffee research in Bermuda was disappointing. Hamilton has a few places that serve espresso including the Hamilton Princess coffee shop which you should avoid unless absolutely desperate. The first place we tried on a recommendation was the coffee bar inside Miles Market, the lattes (marginal at best) were prepared by two baristas who were more interested in talking on the phone than serving. The next day we ventured further to the Common Ground which can be found in an alleyway just off Front Street. The lattes were definitely a step up from the day before although a bit milky. The food however gets good ratings; Ginger had their breakfast sandwich – basically a BLT with egg. It was fresh and well prepared. They also serve crepes which looked great – read: we screwed up by not trying those. The place that gets the highest ratings is Rock Island on Reid Street (one back from Front). Nutmeg thought it was worth a try on Sunday morning to see if we could find “the” coffee spot. However, it was an unsuccessful mission – nothing is open in Hamilton on Sunday mornings in fact the Juice and Java shop on Front Street opens at 2 pm Sundays. Which led Nutmeg back to the aforementioned Hamilton coffee shop with a line-up out the door of hotel guests and islanders who just finished their road bike rides – literally this is the only coffee shop open and the coffee was terrible. So we suppose the lesson is either sleep in or stop drinking coffee when in Bermuda.
The island is small and very easily explored. The ferry and bus system work in tandem and you can easily get from Hamilton to either end of the island in about 60 minutes. There are 2-4 bus options each way and several ferry options on weekdays. Do make a point of checking museum and fort opening schedules before you go as we discovered Fort St Catherine is only open on weekdays. We would recommend at least half a day at the Royal Naval Dockyard; spend the money to explore the Bermuda Maritime Museum and the Commissioner’s House. The Dockyards is also the port for the cruise ships visiting the island so expect a high level of tourist shops and associated prices. St George’s on the other end (east) of the island, it is a step back in time to the 19th century in fact it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This tiny port still has cobbled streets and alleyways. There are a few interesting shops and restaurants. Make sure to visit Tobacco Bay and have a swim or a drink overlooking the ocean. You can
get to St George’s by ferry on weekdays or on any one of 4 buses every day of the week.
Golfers love Bermuda there are multiple courses with varied terrain and price points. We were fortunate to play the Mid-Ocean Club and Port Royal (future home of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf). Mid-Ocean is a classic old course, with plenty of trouble along the way and would definitely be a challenging walk. Port Royal is undergoing a massive renovation for the Grand Slam, it was in good shape – there is lots of sand and it is not easy for the average golfer, although is much more open than Mid-Ocean. We did visit Tuckers Point which is adjacent to Mid-Ocean. They have fabulous grounds, tennis, semi-private beach and a beautiful golf course with very similar terrain to Mid-Ocean (in some cases the holes almost run parallel.
Let’s talk about dinner in Bermuda: As you probably know by know Nutmeg does her research in this department. Coconuts in The Reefs Hotel had received several reviews from a disparate group of people so it sounded like a must-try. The setting is fabulous you literally walk from the road to the water’s edge and dine on the patio overlooking the surf or if you so chose at a table on the sand. The tip-off should have been the $75 prix fixe dinner – that should have screamed TOURIST to us. The food was OK, the service OK. Our recommendation is to go for a cocktail and check out the view/scene. They do have another fabulous patio overlooking the ocean and the beach, at road level. This too would be a good spot for a drink. On our last night, we tried The Waterlog Inn, which is associated with the Southampton Princess. It is a classic steakhouse. The food and service were both very good. The place was packed, likely with those disappointed by Coconuts. Ginger would recommend this place based on wine and food. Nutmeg sits on the fence as the restaurant could be in any big American city.
We did not try and should have The Dining Room at Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. Here are some fast facts on the lighthouse itself. Constructed in 1844 the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse is the oldest cast-iron lighthouse in the world. The hill on which the lighthouse stands is 245 feet high while the lighthouse itself measures 117 feet. A 1,000-watt bulb sits inside a lens revolving in a trough of 1,200 pounds of mercury. The light beam it emits can be seen by ships 40 miles away and from a distance of 120 miles by a plane flying at 10,000 feet. So you get the picture the lighthouse is on a hill and the outdoor restaurant has likely the best views on the island. Try it and let us know.
So Nutmeg is adamant that her research time was way too short to truly do the level of study required we will plan a return trip.
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