Best family friendly activities on Bermuda; from historic sites to animal fun & beach days
By Tristan Ralston on 20th July, 2016
In Bermuda, traveling with kids is a breeze. The island offer countless family friendly activities – it’s like one giant theme park. With so many things to keep them occupied, they’ll be begging you to come back for every family vacation.
Family Friendly Activities: History
The town of St. George’s is more than 400 years old with incredible architecture and history. The World Heritage Center museum has a kid-friendly zone on the ground floor, with dress-up costumes, huge dioramas, and sensor-activated noises. Exhibits explain Bermuda’s connections to Pocahontas, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and why Bermuda was called the Isle of Devils.
During the summertime, the daily reenactment on the King’s Square will have kids enthralled, as the “wench” gets thrown into the harbor for her “crimes” of nagging and gossiping, showcasing the archaic punishments of ye olden days. Kids can also pose in the stocks.
Just beside King’s Square is a replica of the Deliverance, the ship built by passengers stranded in Bermuda after a 1609 shipwreck. The group sailed out of Bermuda in May 1610 on to their original destination of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. They arrived with food supplies they’d brought from Bermuda just in time—the settlement was about to be abandoned due to starvation. Exhibits on board tell this tale.
Up the hill from the town and dotted around the eastern coast of the island are forts and batteries. The largest, Fort St. Catherine, showcases what life would have been like there for the cooks, weapons handlers, and other soldiers. Huge cannons are placed throughout, and climbing to the top gives you a jaw-dropping view. Further down from Fort St. Catherine is Alexandra Battery, a fort, beach, and park complex that you can explore at any time. Right at the end of that quiet street is Gates Fort, a small fort perched right on the edge of the entrance to St. George’s harbor.
For a unique and interactive learning experience, nothing will excite your family more than Haunted History, an evening walking tour of St. George’s. Your storyteller leads you by candlelit lantern through the winding alleys and old lanes of the town telling stories of famous residents from centuries past, with a few surprises along the way.
Also in the east end, you’ll find an exciting example of Bermuda’s natural history. Crystal Caves will dazzle your entire family with crystal clear underground lakes, stalactites, and stalagmites. These huge formations, which grow slowly each year, began 30 million years ago. Even the most difficult to please tween will stand mouth agape at these incredible wonders of earthly beauty. Their sister property, Fantasy Caves, is equally astonishing and well worth the visit.
Crystal Caves ©photo courtesy of Howarth Photography
The Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute tells tales of the Atlantic, and is perfectly designed with young ocean explorers in mind. Interactive games, an exhibit of more than 1,200 sea shells, a room of shipwreck treasures, stories about the predatory lionfish, and a simulated submarine ride will capture the imagination of every child and have them planning their own underwater adventure.
Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo ©photo courtesy of Two & Quarter Photography Ltd
On the western end of the island is The Royal Naval Dockyard, a historic maritime center and the home of the National Museum of Bermuda, where kids 16 and younger enter for free. A shipwreck exhibit has more than 1,500 artifacts on display including rare weapons, silver coins, colonial pottery, tools, and exotic trade goods from the New World and Asia. The Hall of History is a grand mural painted by local artist Graham Foster that traces Bermuda’s 500 years of human history. It is astonishing to see, and kids of all ages will enjoy standing amidst this spectacular artistic achievement. The National Museum also has a playground and playhouse that includes a discovery sand pit, a 21-foot-tall lighthouse with slide, a 70-foot-long green moray eel, and an interactive exhibit.
©photo courtesy of Two & Quarter Photography Ltd. Clothing provided by A.S.Cooper
Family Friendly Activities: Animal Fun
Just alongside the National Museum is Dolphin Quest, where every member of your family can get up close and personal with dolphins. Dolphin Quest has several experiences for all ages, even for kids as young as three. Guests will get in the water with qualified trainers for an interactive dolphin swim experience. You might even get a kiss! Photographers will capture this once-in-a-lifetime family experience. Dolphin Quest also offers shows and demonstrations.
©photo courtesy of Two & Quarter Photography Ltd
Family Friendly Activities: Beach & Outdoors
There’s nothing like a Bermuda beach. Kids will spend hours splashing in waves, building sand castles, and exploring tide pools along the rocks. Teens will love laying out in the sun and getting that perfect Instagram shot. But which beach to choose? Horseshoe Bay Beach in Southampton, John Smith’s Bay in Smith’s, and Clearwater Beach in St. David’s all have lifeguards on duty. Horseshoe and Clearwater also have watersports/beach rentals and food for sale.
Shelly Bay Beach in Hamilton Parish is a very child-friendly beach and you will always find many families here because of the huge playground and calm tides. Just beside Horseshoe Bay is Jobson’s Cove, which draws smaller crowds and a rock barrier keeps the waves at bay, making it perfect for small children. Tobacco Bay Beach in St. George’s, with a full concession, calm waves, and watersports rentals is also great for families.
Older children looking for a watersports adventure will enjoy jet-skiing, fly boarding, paddle boarding, and kayaking, and there are numerous watersports companies to choose from. After you dry off, there is lots of land-based fun to be had as well, including horseback riding, bicycling, and mini-golf. For a relaxing quiet activity, consider a walk and simple picnic at Bermuda Botanical Gardens while you feed the ducks.
After these full days of family fun, your kids will sleep easy with memories of dancing dolphins and plans for shipwreck treasures, giving mom and dad the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine, looking out over the waves in peace.