Footprints on a beach, east of Horeshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda
This is Part 8 of my trip report series about our road trip and cruise to Bermuda. Parts 6 and 7 were restaurant reviews of the White Horse Pub & Restaurant in St. George’s and The Lobster Pot in Hamilton, and in Part 5, I left off with a beautiful sunset while sipping rum swizzles on a yacht cruise around the Dockyard. Today would be our last day in Bermuda, with our ship scheduled to sail back to Boston at 5:30 P.M. local time. You obviously can’t visit an island without going to be beach, so my wife and I decided that today would be our beach day. Our beach days are a little different than most people’s, though. I can’t swim, and let’s face it, neither one of us really need a tan, so for us, beachcoming usually means long, relaxing walks on the sand, occasionally sticking our feet in the water. We then planned to take the bus to Hamilton to grab lunch and take a quick look around, before heading back to the ship to say goodbye to Bermuda.
For the introductory post and full trip report index, click here.
Date of Visit: Tuesday, May 20, 2014
After a leisurely breakfast at the buffet, we were off the gangway and ready to go a few minutes before 9, and walked straight to the bus stop, located across from the Bermuda Craft Market. We thought we’d be waiting until 9:20, but apparently spotting the growing crowd (all headed to the beach, incidentally), a bus supervisor called for a special bus to head nonstop to Horseshoe Bay Beach in Southampton Parish (approximately 15 km/9 mi from Dockyard, and 10 km/6 mi from Hamilton). Horseshoe Bay is generally considered Bermuda’s most popular pink sand beach, and when you see photos on the internet of Bermuda’s beaches, chances are it’s of Horseshoe Bay. The beach is so named because of its crescent shape, and is one of the longest uninterrupted beaches in Bermuda, approximately 1/3 mile in length. The bus stop is actually on the main road, at the top of the hill (nicknamed “Cardiac Hill”) overlooking the beach. It is approximately 1/2 mile from the road downhilll to the beach. Once the main beach opens up past the snack bar, you can walk to the right and scamper up the rocks to get an amazing view of both the beach and the sheltered cove to the right. As mentioned, there is a snack bar, as well as a place to rent beach chairs and umbrellas.
I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here – this is a gorgeous beach.
Port Royal Cove, right (west) of the main beach
The main Horseshoe Bay Beach
Up close and personal with pink sand, looking east
It was May, and still farily early, so the beach wasn’t that crowded. I’ve been told it can be something of a madhouse later in the summer. But even so, if you come to Bermuda, you’ve got to visit this beach. The pink sand and turquoise-blue water will blow you away.
If you really want to get your beach fix, you can actually hike along the shore, via South Shore Park, to the west for about a mile and a half or so (you might be able to go further than that, but we didn’t have time). Since swimming or snorkeling was out of the question, and neither one of us are sunbathers, we decided to follow the trail to check out some of the other beaches. This is also a potential solution if you arrive at Horseshoe Bay and find it too crowded for your taste – there are several lesser-visited beaches and coves between here and Warwick Long Bay Beach to set up shop at instead.
As we climbed the dunes at the west end of Horseshoe Bay, you are afforded a fine view of the wide, crescent-shaped beach.
As you continue heading west, you pass through scenic scrubland and dunes, occasionally passing by small, sparsely visited coves, and catching phenomenal views of the southern Bermuda coastline from high points on the trail.
After a 20-30 minute walk from Horseshoe Bay, or longer depending on how many times you stop to savor the surroundings, you reach the small, secluded Chaplin Bay Beach. We didn’t go down, though I took a photo from the top of a hill overlooking the beach.
If you need a pit stop, restrooms are available here. As you walk in from Horseshoe Bay, you’ll see a parking lot, which appears to be blocked off from the trail. Just climb over the ropes to reach the parking lot, and the restrooms. If the trail behind the restrooms is too steep for you, you can also continue your walk by first walking to the end of the parking lot, then turning back to the right towards the dunes again. It’s a much flatter trail to the next beach, the larger but still quiet Stonehole Bay. Stonehole Bay is actually a “split” beach, with two small stretches of sand separated by rocks. I was unable to get a vantage of the split, but as you can see, the beach itself is similar to Chaplin Bay.
As you continue west along the trail, you cross into Warwick Parish and come upon the picturesque Jobson’s Cove. Jobson’s Cove is one of Bermuda’s finest examples of a sheltered cove, surrounded on all sides by cliffs with only a small opening to the sea. The waters in the cove are shallow and remarkably calm, with a current noticeable only at the opening to the sea. If you have kids and don’t want the man-made experience of Snorkel Park, this is a good spot to bring them snorkeling. If you enjoy these coves, Jobson’s is also less crowded than Port Royal Cove at Horseshoe Bay. You will need to bring your own equipment, though, as no rental facilities are available here.
Finally, we arrived at the end of the trail and Warwick Long Bay Beach. Warwick Long Bay is actually slightly longer than the more famous Horseshoe Bay, at approximately 1/2 mile in length, and you get the same pink sand, same sheltered cove on the eastern end, and the same view from the top of the rocks as its more popular cousin. For that reason, many Bermuda travel guides suggest coming to Warwick Long Bay if you want the pink sand beach experience, but want to avoid the crowds. NOTE: if you want to scamper up the rocks on the east end for photos, use caution, as the footing can be loose. Once you’re ready to head back, there are two exits back to the main road, one on the east end and one on the west end. You can catch the #7 or #8 bus from there back to Dockyard or Hamilton. In fact, if the bus stop at Horseshoe Bay is too crowded, one option is to walk over to Chaplin Bay or here and catch the bus at one of those spots instead.
A full view of the long beach
An odd looking rock that looks like a man’s face
View of the beach from the road above
We then walked back to the road and caught the next #7 bus to Hamilton, both to get some food and to look around the city briefly before heading back to the ship. After an excellent meal at The Lobster Pot, we had about an hour and a half before needing to catch the ferry back to Dockyard, providing a great opportunity to walk off our meal around downtown Hamilton and the waterfront. Unfortunately, this didn’t give us enough time to actually stop in and see anything. In hindsight, we probably should have come to Hamilton on Sunday, and spent today touring the Dockyard. But, I had heard that most of Hamilton is shut down on Sunday, and since we wanted to pick up a few trinkets here, thought a Tuesday visit would be best. Oh well. Next time we’re in Bermuda, we’ll spend more time here.
A lot of people automatically think “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” when they think of Hamilton, and while you certainly do see some of that, the city is an interesting mix of historic architecture and modern office buildings, many housing the insurance industry the country is famous for. Below is a photo tour of our walk, with capitions and links to the important sites we saw if you’d like to learn more.
The modern central business district
Row of British colonial buildings looking towards the waterfront
Bermuda Anglican Cathedral (Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity), built in 1884
Bermuda Supreme Court building
Bermuda Cabinet Building, constructed in the 1830s
The expensive shopping mecca of Front Street
We made it back to the ferry terminal on Front Street with about 40 minutes left to spare, so after picking up a few trinkets at a cheap souvenir store next to the terminal, we walked around the waterfront a bit while I took a few last photos of Hamilton.
It’s a quick 20-minute ferry ride from Hamilton to Dockyard, but the short ride is a very scenic one, as it passes through the inner harbor and the West End of Pembroke Parish. This is where you get a glimpse of how the Bermuda jet setters live; many of Bermuda’s largest and most opulent estates are located in the West End, owned by wealthy locals and foreigners alike. Some houses in the area are valued at more than $30 million. Here’s a few examples we were able to spy from the ferry.
This is reportedly the most expensive house in Bermuda – built on its own private island
20 minutes later, we reached the Dockyard ferry station – and the bittersweet feelings began. We still had two days of cruising and four days of road tripping back from Boston to look forward to, but as we walked back from the ferry dock to the ship, we knew our time in Bermuda was coming to an end. We thoroughly enjoyed our short visit here – a beautiful island with a great mix of history, culture, and fun. I definitely recommend that you plan a visit.
Before I end this post, though, here’s a couple of photos I snapped from our balcony as we sailed along the north end of Bermuda before heading out to see. First, a BA 777 on final approach to BDA for you av-geeks.
And since I like lighthouses, a shot of the famous St. David’s Lighthouse on St. David’s Island.
Stay tuned for my next installment, where I’ll cover our short day in historic, spooky Salem, Massachusetts.