Your Bermuda holiday/survival tips, please...
July 24, 2006 11:38 AM   Subscribe

My fiancee and I are holidaying in Bermuda for the first time ever. 2 week stay, already loaded up with snorkel gear and guidebooks and the accommodation is sorted. Anyone have tips for dealing with things like August's (85% ?) humidity or anything else not covered by the books? Stuff to make me look clever (more easily said than done) or save us bother, please.
posted by limeyboy to Travel & Transportation around Bermuda (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You'll find cell phone coverage troublesome, depending on your carrier. For T-Mobile, from my experience, you have you pay for minutes from a local Bermuda carrier, and then spend against that for calls you make. It's pretty expensive.
posted by thanotopsis at 11:44 AM on July 24, 2006

We were in Bermuda in August four years ago, and the humidity wasn't a big issue for us. The island's so small that odds are you're staying on or near a beach so you'll have the cooling breezes. Make sure you wear sunscreen if you aren't used to strong sun,as you can get burned terribly. Also, the island isn't big so getting around isn't a problem. You can rent a scooter but I'd suggest against it - the auto drivers there are borderline crazy and tourists on scooters get seriously injured on a regular basis. We took the bus if we needed to get around the island. It's cheap and clean and you get more local flavor.

Don't expect to be roughing it. Bermuda is one of the most civilized vacation destinations we've been. And don't even think about purchasing or using illegal drugs, as the laws there are very strict and they seem to pride themselves on busting tourists.

Where are you staying?
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:01 PM on July 24, 2006

Never been to Bermuda, but grew up in south-central Florida, which has the same climate. I recommend light cotton or, even better, linen clothing. Bug spray will be an absolute must - I'd shoot for something effective. Do not drink too much alcohol (especially spirits) after a long day in the sun. Lay off the ice-water when outside, and go with cool water instead. Drink more water than dieuretic beverages like cola. Wear sunglasses when spending long periods of time in the sun near water and concrete because of sun blindness. Reapply suncreen every 90 minutes when swimming, even when it says it is waterproof. Apply ample suncreen to tops of ears and feet. If you go nekid, apply sunscreen to all external areas. If you are snorkeling, make sure someone else applies sunscreen to your back and do it every 60 minutes if you are prone to burn unless you are wearing neophrene. If you are outside for an extended period of time, you will also burn through your clothes if you are fair skinned. Sand gets very hot during peak sun. Asphalt gets even hotter. Shower in the evening and morning. Plan on most outdoor activities before noon and after 3 p.m. Be aware that thickets of vegetation might have some nasty critters hanging around (poisonous spiders, snakes, scorpions - depending on local fauna). The lizards aren't friendly, but not particuarly dangerous. Beware of the ants, many people have fairly acute reactions to them (at least in Florida). Bring along a topical astringent, a Benedryl type cream, and some gauze for blotting. Check your clothing before putting them back on if you leave them outside for any amount of time.

Have fun!
posted by mrmojoflying at 12:06 PM on July 24, 2006

I rented a scooter when I visited back in college, and it was great fun. The biggest challenge was remembering to drive on the opposite (for an American) side of the road. I don't recall any particular crazy drivers, but then again I came from NY.

Some scooter tips based on the actions of some of my travelling companions:
  1. Don't lean your leg against the hot part of the engine/exhaust. But if you do, many of the plants along the side of the road are aloe plants, so break one open and apply to burn.
  2. Turn off your scooter before getting off. If you leave it running when you get off, definitely don't hold it by the handgrip that doubles as the accelerator. If you do hold it by the accelerator, and twist the handle, hold on tightly because it is better to let it shoot up in the air rather than into the crowd/bay.

posted by mikepop at 12:17 PM on July 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

and to confirm SteveInMaine's comment, we did meet some great characters on the bus.
posted by mikepop at 12:21 PM on July 24, 2006

I first visited about 13 years ago and rented scooters then. It was fun, but I when I went again last year, I had read that traffic had gotten so much heavier recently and everyone recommended not renting them. So we did use the bus, which I also recommend, and taxis (which are expensive, like everything there.)

We did some walking as well, but much of the island outside of the towns is surprisingly pedestrian-unfriendly. Lots of main roads have no sidewalks, and literally nowhere for you to walk other than in the traffic lane. This is because of a combination of high concrete curbs (short walls really) and dense foliage (or water's edge) on each side of the road. Couple this with tight curves on the roads and speeding cars and you're really putting your life into your own hands at times.
posted by pitchblende at 12:31 PM on July 24, 2006

Best answer: I have lived in Bermuda for 5 years so I think I can set you straight here......

Transportation: Unless you are comfortable on a scooter, you are putting yourself in possible danger. Although the speed-limit is officially 35k, traffic can be crazy and we drive more like 50-65k, so unless you are comfortable at that speed, what happens is you will have everyone passing you and crowding you which can be intimidating. A lot of tourists ruin their vacation because they crash the bike and end up with serious road rash or broken bones. Not to deter you from the bike, but coupled with the fact that your driving on the other side of the road, and dealing with round-abouts, it can be quite an experience. BUT, it is the BEST way to get around the island. You can go wherever you want and don't have to deal with the logistical challenges of catching a bus or taxi. If your not comfortable, rent one in your area and practice for a day or too. And as pitchblende said, walking can be scary as there are hardly any sidewalks, so cars buzz by you with little more that a few feet between you. By the way the Ferry is a great way to get to Dockyard. It is a really nice ride.

Humidity: Dressing accordingly is a challenge because of the dress code around here. Remember 'Smart Casual' but also 'Comfortable'. A lot of the restaurants encourage collared shirts, slacks, shoes, etc. If you aren't planning on going out for 'nicer' dinners, I would simply wear loose fitting lines, sandals / flip-flops etc. The humidity is brutal in August, so drink lots of water, jump in the water alot, and don't over do it.

Snorkeling: Go to Church Bay and Tobacco Bay. These are the two best spots to snorkel on the island. There are others, but they are hard to get to without a boat. Take off your jewerly just in case a Baracuda comes to check you out.

Cost: Bermuda is very expensive. A Heineken will cost you $6-10, and a nice dinner will run $100-$100 at minimum if you have a few drinks. Jewelry and Watches are a good deal though.

People: Say hi to people. Everyone is extremely friendly and expect people to greet you in the streets. It is considered rude not to say good morning, etc. Also use your manners when asking people for directions, etc. Say 'Good Afternoon.....Could You Tell me' as opposed to 'Hey where is the Ferry Stop'.

Drinking: Bermudians like to drink and the bartenders poor most of the drinks stiff. Make sure you don't drink too many Rum Swizzles or Dark And Stormy's if your not accustomed to strong drinks.

Casual Dining : Pickled Onion, Hog Penny, Tio Pepe, Frog And Onion, Lobster Pot, La Trattoria

Best Sushi Ever!! - Yoshi's inside the Coconut Rock Bar

Finer Dining : Baracuda Grille, Fresco's, Port O Call, Coconuts, Waterlot,

Great Beachside Restaurant - Mickeys at Elbow Beach

Sunday Brunch: The Reefs or Fourways Inn

Places to See: Horseshoe Bay, Elbow Beach, John Smith's Bay, Dockyard, The Lighthouse, Fort Scaur.

Things to Do: Lay on Horseshoe Bay and chill and explore all the coves on Southshore, Snorkel at Church Bay, Get a Rum Swizzle at the Swizzle, Go to the Pickled Onion on a Friday night to see the 'scene', Talk a walk on Elbow Beach, Walk around the Botanical Gardens, Sneak into Tucker's Town if you can, drive along Harbour Road on a nice day. Go to the lighthouse tearoom. Go to the Spa at the Southhampton Princess.

If I think of anything else I will let you know.
posted by jasondigitized at 1:01 PM on July 24, 2006 [2 favorites]

I just got back from Bermuda yesterday. I second what jasondigitized said -- nice to hear from a native! -- and would caution you against following advice about south-central Florida. Bermuda isn't full of biting insects, ants, or heavy vegetation. It's off the coast of the Carolinas, not Florida, and fortunately, it doesn't seem to have the bug problems of the mainland.

Basically, I wouldn't worry about the insects or the heat. Just spend plenty of time in a pool, the ocean, or some air-conditioned stores, wear sunglasses and sunscreen, and you won't mind it at all.
posted by equipoise at 2:07 PM on July 24, 2006

My only advice deals with high humidity and oily complexions, if you have normal or dry skin, move to the next comment.

If you have an oily complexion, you probably already know that high humidity isn't your friend. My skin is really oily (yeah, yeah, so that will help me avoid wrinkles but I don't care. I hate it!) and in humidity, the mositure seems to just sit on top of my skin (unable to penetrate the oil, perhaps??), making me feel icky. Here are some products that help:

Sunscreen powder

Anti Shine oil control

Oil Absorbing Sheets
posted by necessitas at 9:05 PM on July 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Avoid the areas where the cruise ships dock on the days they are scheduled to dock. Everything in the vicinity will be crowded with cruise ship passengers.

Take the scary pink buses at least once. They're a great way to see bits of the island off the beaten path. Don't take them anywhere to get in a hurry, though, especially if school is getting out. Ours stopped for about 20 minutes picking up kids at a couple schools, and stopped several times to let kids off.

Ask for recommendations where to get good fish chowder and try it with the traditional condiments (sherry peppers and black rum).
posted by booksherpa at 11:57 PM on July 24, 2006

Response by poster: Wow. The trouble with posting outside the US means one gets out of bed, checks for answers, and finds so many MeFites to thank! All this information is going to be really useful. Thank you all - especially to jasondigitized. I must remember to re-post when we get back from Bermuda. Thanks again!
posted by limeyboy at 1:04 AM on July 25, 2006

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