Travel guide to Bermuda: explore the Parishes
Published on Saturday, August 26th, 2017 by Hannah BarnardTags: Bermuda, Bermuda Activities, Bermuda Aquarium, Bermuda Attractions, Bermuda Hotel, Bermuda Map, Bermuda Resorts, Bermuda Vacations, Bermuda Weather, Travel guide to
Bermuda is made up of nine parishes, each with its own unique attractions and highlights. To ensure you experience a sampling of all of Bermuda’s offerings, consider exploring each parish. Here’s our guide to Bermuda, from east to west.
Sandys parish (pronounced “sands”—the y is silent) is the westernmost parish, and made up of a few main islands, including Somerset, Boaz Island, and Ireland Island. Connected with bridges like Somerset Bridge, which holds the dubious honor of being the smallest working drawbridge in the world. Also in Sandys parish is Dockyard, home of the 2017 America’s Cup, where sailing teams from around the world battled it out for the oldest trophy in sports. The West End is a historic maritime hub where you can visit the National Museum of Bermuda and Dolphin Quest.
For another historic sporting event, visit St. George’s Cricket Club, where every summer they host Cup Match, an annual cricket game played between their club and Somerset Cricket Club. It is Bermuda’s biggest holiday and cultural event.
The southern shore of Southampton is easily one of the most gorgeous stretches of shoreline in the world. Spend hours lazing on soft pink and white sand at Horseshoe Bay, repeatedly named one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet, and its off-the-beaten-path neighbor Chaplin Bay. Stroll along the sand dunes that connect these beaches and explore small coves and a large park and camping grounds.
Gibbs Hill Lighthouse: Perched high up on Gibbs Hill, 245 feet above the water, this cast iron lighthouse was built in 1846. Open daily, visitors can climb the 185 steps to the platform to see for miles.
Most visitors will spend quite a bit of time in Pembroke, as it’s home to the country’s capital, and the primary business and shopping district, the City of Hamilton. The city has restaurants, bars, galleries, a shopping mall, and is a bustling cultural, political, economic, and transportation hub, situated on beautiful Hamilton Harbor. The northeast of the city boasts many small businesses, including Caribbean and Indian restaurants and nightlife.
Located in the residential community of Spanish Point, Admiralty House Park is a family-friendly park complex that includes a playground, basketball court, skating rink, beaches, wooded trails, and numerous caves to explore. During the summer, you will see many locals jumping off the cliffs here – try it if you dare!
Just like its next-door parish Southampton, Warwick has lovely beaches along the south shore, especially Bermuda’s longest stretch of beach, Warwick Long Bay. Further east is Astwood Cove, a beach and park reserve that is often used for weddings and picnics. Stand on the cliffs to spot Bermuda’s beautiful longtail birds, as they build their nests in the rocky edges.
At 37 acres, Southlands was the largest private estate in Bermuda. It will soon be listed as a national park, since the Bermuda government recently provided the owners with land in exchange for the space, to ensure it would not be developed. This must-explore property includes a large wooded area, huge centuries-old trees, and a gorgeous, secluded beach.
Many visitors will pass through mostly-residential Paget on their way to the south shore in the west or St. George’s in the east, but there are a few gems you won’t want to miss. There are two small shopping plazas, including one right at the junction between Middle and South Shore Roads that has one of the only fast food spots open late on the island, The Ice Queen. The western Railway Trail, a series of secluded wooded paths left over from when the island had a train system, is fantastic for hiking or cycling and begins in Paget.
Bermuda Botanical Gardens is the largest public garden in Bermuda, and is home to Camden House, the premier’s official residence, and the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, an incredible collection of Bermuda-inspired works. Spend a day exploring this entire property, and enjoy lunch at the small café at Masterworks.
Although, like Paget, much of Devonshire is residential, there are a few cultural and outdoor spots to add to your itinerary. The National Sports Centre hosts international soccer, cricket, swimming, and other sporting events. If a competition is scheduled while you are here, it would be a great way to connect with locals and learn a bit about the island’s sporting culture. The Bermuda Arboretum, just down the street from the sports complex, is a national park often used for exercising, picnicking, and large events.
Palm Grove Gardens is a privately owned, 18-acre garden, open to the public only Monday through Thursday. It’s a beautiful space worth exploring and photographing, and indeed is an oft-visited space for wedding and special occasion photo shoots. The Bermuda map in the lily pond is a unique and special sight to see.
Harrington Sound is a large inland body of water, and is bordered on the southern side by Smith’s Parish. Smith’s has two amazing environments that must be explored.
Spittal Pond is a huge, 60-acre nature reserve along the coast, with many ponds, rock caves, and trails that take you up hillsides to perch on the cliff edges. Whales can often be spotted from here, and it’s a bird watcher’s paradise as well.
Walsingham Nature Reserve, also known as Tom Moore’s Jungle, is a wooded park that immediately makes you feel like an intrepid explorer setting out on an adventure. There are no signs pointing the way through caves, mangroves, and overgrown paths, so this is recommended for those who love to get off the beaten path.
Across the Harrington Sound from Smith’s is Hamilton Parish—not to be confused with the City of Hamilton. The parish includes the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo; Shelly Bay Beach and playground; and Flatts Village, a small shopping and dining district. The only way to access Harrington Sound from the open ocean is under Flatts Bridge, and if you get the opportunity to explore this body of water, don’t pass it up.
The eastern Railway Trail has always been small separate paths, but recent bridge additions in the Hamilton Parish portions mean you can hop on the trail just before Shelly Bay and continue nearly all the way to St. George’s.
Liked this guide to Bermuda? Check out this post on 5 of the best beaches on Bermuda!