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Bermuda: The land of Instagram-worthy beaches, azure waters, million-dollar sailing yachts, sprawling golf courses and some pretty adorable shorts. Just a two-hour flight from New York City, Bermuda is the perfect choice for an easily accessible, high-end, family-friendly getaway. This proximity means that East Coasters can go quickly from sitting in urban bumper-to-bumper traffic to basking in paradise on the pink-sand beaches. At just 24 miles long and 1 mile wide, this fish-hook-shaped island might not be very big, but it does offer a ton of activities for the whole family. From the United States and Canada, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United, Air Canada and WestJet offer flights to Bermuda.
I recently returned from an amazing weeklong Bermuda vacation with my two kids (ages 2 and 4) and mother-in-law. Our adventure included secluded beaches, pirate ships, aquariums and lighthouses. Before the trip, I reached out to my longtime friend and travel expert David LaHuta since he’s a New York-born, Bermuda-based travel journalist who’s been reporting on the island for the past decade.
David and I used to work together hosting a TV show a few years ago for Outside TV, so when I found out he was still living on the island and writing the Frommer’s guidebook to Bermuda (soon to be published in 2019), I knew he’d have his finger on the pulse of all things cool. A dad of two boys, aged 5 and 7, David gave me the inside scoop on local, kid-friendly activities in Bermuda. Here are a few of his top local picks for traveling with young children in Bermuda.
Best Local Playground: National Museum Playground
Located at the Royal Naval Dockyard, within the confines of the largest stone fortress on the island, this wooden structure features a 70-foot-long “moray eel” that kids can crawl through and a 21-foot-tall replica of St. David’s Lighthouse, which they can climb up and slide down.
When they’re done playing, pop into the adjacent Children’s Museum, featuring hands-on exhibits about Bermuda’s maritime history, and then watch dolphins swim, play and jump through the water at Dolphin Quest, located in the pond just next door. If you’ve got any energy left, head to nearby Bermuda Fun Golf, an ocean-view course where you can play 18 miniature versions of the world’s most iconic holes.
Best Bermuda Restaurant for Kids: Village Pantry
A great place to bring the kids for lunch is Village Pantry, which is located in Flatts Village. In addition to a wholesome menu featuring locally sourced foods, it’s where kids can make their own pizza (and where they can play in a shady outdoor area while you wait for your food). Order up a pizza and your kids will receive a dollop of uncooked dough and a selection of toppings to sprinkle on themselves.
Best Place to See Wildlife: Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo
When you’re done eating at Village Panty, walk across the street to the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, where you’ll see tropical fish swimming in tanks meant to mimic Bermuda’s reefs and a menagerie of animals (like lemurs and fossa from Madagascar) from other ecosystems around the world . Heads up: There are no sidewalks for a portion of this stroll, so be prepared to walk single file with the kiddos along the road for a few minutes.
Best Local Music Hangout for Kids: Harbour Night
Held in the City of Hamilton on Wednesday nights from May through September, Harbour Night is an open-air street party where local vendors sell artwork, handmade crafts and island-inspired food. It’s also where you can catch live bands playing on the stage under the tall flagpole on Front Street, or if you’re lucky, where you’ll be treated to a performance by a troupe of colorfully dressed Gombey dancers. Inspired by West Indian and African traditions, these kaleidoscopic folk dancers whirl to the beat of boisterous drumming and repetitive whistles and onlookers are encouraged to dance and clap along.
Best Place to See a Pink Sand Beach on Bermuda: Horseshoe Bay
Thanks to microscopic organisms called foraminifera, whose light-red shells eventually become pulverized bits of pink sand, all of Bermuda’s beaches are a blissful rosy hue. But not all beaches are created equal. The grand dame of them all is Horseshoe Bay Beach in Southampton Parish, a sweeping crescent that’s popular with locals and tourists alike. If you’ve got little swimmers in tow, head to its western end where you’ll find Baby Beach, a calm pool of water perfect for toddlers. If instead you want a slice of sand all your own, head to Jobson’s Cove in Warwick, where you’ll find a protected lagoon ideal for little ones.
Best Local Ice Cream: Bailey’s Bay Ice Cream Parlour
With more than 30 flavors of all-natural, homemade ice cream — including Bermuda banana, coconut and Dark ‘n’ Stormy for the adults — Bailey’s Bay Ice Cream Parlour in Hamilton Parish has long been a favorite for families (bring cash since they don’t accept credit cards). It’s the perfect place to stop after you’ve brought the kids to Crystal & Fantasy Caves, just five minutes away. There you can explore a whimsical subterranean world of stalactites and stalagmites, which have grown for centuries over a massive underground lake — the real-life inspiration for the Jim Henson TV series, “Fraggle Rock.”
Best Place to Try Local Food: Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio
Given Bermuda’s somewhat remote mid-Atlantic location, it’s no surprise that the island’s cuisine centers on fresh seafood, since tuna, wahoo, mahi-mahi and, when in season, spiny lobster are caught daily in its waters. For a real taste of Bermuda, head to the historic town of St. George’s — a UNESCO World Heritage Site with well-preserved buildings and churches dating to the early 1600s — and grab a table at this waterfront bistro. On the menu you’ll find several preparations of wahoo (a mild, white fish) including nuggets, which Bermudian kids gobble up by the handful.
Best Spot for a Selfie With Your Kids: Gibbs Hill Lighthouse
Built in 1844 by royal engineers and located in Southampton parish, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse is the world’s oldest cast iron lighthouse. It’s also got the island’s very best bird’s-eye view since its open-air viewing deck can be reached after climbing 185 steps to the top. The topside panorama was tailor-made for memorable moments since you can spot the Royal Naval Dockyard, Riddell’s Bay and the City of Hamilton just over your shoulder. When you’re done snapping selfies, walk five minutes down Lighthouse Road and grab lunch at Henry VIII, a casual British pub with stunning ocean views.
Best Day at Sea: Rent a Boat from KS Watersports
Few people realize that Bermuda is not just one island, but an archipelago made up of more than 180 islands, islets and cays. On weekends, you’ll see fleets of local boaters cruise west to explore hidden coves and secluded bays reachable only by boat — and fortunately, you can too. Even those with limited experience on the water can rent a self-drive, 16-foot Boston Whaler and take off on the ultimate Bermuda adventure. Rent one from KS Watersports, with locations in the City of Hamilton, Southampton and the Royal Naval Dockyard. Boats include a shady canopy, a cooler filled with ice and maps to help get you on your way.
Best Place to Stop and Smell the Flowers: Bermuda Botanical Gardens
If you and your kids need some open space to play, or you’ve got a cranky infant who needs a long stroll, head to the Bermuda Botanical Gardens in Paget Parish. This 39-acre park is Bermuda’s largest and includes a handful of family-friendly sights to keep everyone happy. Most notably, a nautically inspired playground that was once on the site of the America’s Cup Village during the 2017 regatta and a grove of tall banyan trees, which kids can climb on and hide in. Don’t miss the garden for the blind with its fragrant flowers and plants and have fun getting lost in the maze garden, a Tudor-style hedge maze.
Best Place to Ride a Bike: Bermuda Railway Trail
Once a working railbed for the now defunct Bermuda Railway, the Railway Trail is a 21-mile-long pedestrian and bicycle path that spans the length of the island. Broken into nine, noncontiguous sections, the trail is perfect for shady day hikes or for longer bicycle rides (just make sure your kids are confident riders since the terrain often changes and can be bumpy at times). Rent bicycles at Oleander Cycles with locations throughout the island and pick a section nearest to you. A particularly pretty stretch is in Hamilton Parish near Bailey’s Bay, where you can cross a brand-new 75-foot-long bridge, which spans the turquoise water.
Bermuda can be a fantastic vacation spot for active families that want to spend time on the beach, visit aquariums and museums, and hit the water on a day cruise. With close proximity to the East Coast, many airfare options, some hotels with Amex Fine Hotels and Resort benefits, forthcoming new hotels and occasional airfare sales, it is a place to put on a beach-loving family’s radar.
Julia Dimon is a family travel expert who has traveled to 80 countries across all seven continents. Read more about her adventures with kids at juliadimon.com
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