The Bermuda Rectangle. Is what I thought it was called, but it turns out that doesn’t exist either. Apart from a superstitious fiction of vanishing vessels and the even-more-mysterious Bermuda Shorts, I’d not really encountered the island of Bermuda before. This marvel of nature is a long, thin, subtropical, volcanic island (made up of 181 mini-islands!) that’s shaped like a seahorse, and is a veritable slither of paradise with soft pink sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Marine heritage is a fundamental part of daily life here, and it offers simply some of the best sailing conditions in the world. When the Bermuda Tourism Authority invited me to tour the island and train with the Land Rover BAR team ahead of the elite and ultra-prestigious Americas Cup in May, I commenced my research; Turks & Caicos is 1,340km away, this isn’t in the Caribbean, it’s one of the most isolated islands on the planet, and it’s surrounded by absolutely nothing other than the fresh depths of the Atlantic Ocean. And its waters are blessed with lashings of wind; a sailors mecca! What I discovered when I set foot on the island couldn’t have been more unique; this is one of the most welcoming gems I’ve encountered on my voyages! Click more to see behind the scenes from the sailing equivalent of F1, as well as my top 10 wellbeing activities on this stunning, arresting island!
This isn’t a forced, artificial tropical existence; it’s a 69,000-strong community with a down-to-earth outlook, a rich and endearing culture and deep, 400-year old history. And oddly enough, it’s immediately familiar, with an unmistakable Britishness to its charm; given it’s the largest remaining Overseas Territory, that makes sense. Whilst the local accent is part American-part-Barbadian, everyone here watches Premiership football, the road signs and traffic lights are identical to the UK, there’s mock-Georgian architecture everywhere, and they even have Waitrose and Marks and Spencer stores selling kale and Percy Pig respectively; it’s a bit like a sunnier Marylebone! The first local I met invited me to ‘go with the flow’, as is the way in Bermuda (hence we ended up at a magical and infectiously rhythmic Gombey troupe’s dance event, as below); almost unheard of in London, but indicative of the slightly different Bermudian rhythm. That’s not to say this island is about chilling on the beach… it claims the terrain diversity of a land mass 100 times its size, facilitating a wonderfully active, and outdoorsy lifestyle. You could go here for some much-needed rest, or likewise to stay active throughout an entire trip, enjoying the freshest, healthiest marine foods! Find my top 10 list of activities here alongside some beach gems and super restaurants!
1) PADDLE BOARDING!
I’ve never heard of anyone paddle boarding to work before, but in Bermuda, that’s a thing! Whilst I didn’t trial a full-on commute, I circumnavigated the bay, and despite a mild coordination fiasco at the beginning, it’s a great laugh! Sneakily, though, it’s fantastic exercise – it engages the balancing stabilizer muscles, which is great core work, and the paddling motions are fantastic for shoulders and arms. If one were to fall in, it’s not the end of the world but rather quite nice to cool off. All of this whilst soaking up some Vitamin D. There are countless sheltered coves in which to try this in reasonably calm waters…
The island was formed by an extinct Volcano around 100 million years ago (though I wasn’t there, so it’s hard to verify this ‘alternative fact’); it’s had time to develop some gnarly geological lime and sandstone features. It’s well worth checking out Grotto Bay for more than just paddle boarding; the cave swimming in the ultra-fresh Cathedral Caves is an invigorating icy mega-boost to the immune system!
3) SPA AT PROSPERO’S CAVE
For that matter, the spa at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort was one of the most unusual and spectacular settings for a wellness area I’ve ever encountered… a linen pergola on a floating pontoon under dripping stalactites. The sonorous qualities of the droplets plunging into the pool creates an eerily magical resonant effect to help elevate the treatments ever more!
4) MAKE A RUN FOR IT!
The ever changing surface and landscape offers a fast-developing terrain as you run; there are some flat runs in the harbor, which segway into rigorous beach runs amidst the sand, and can merge into uphill sprints through the forest – how you run this diverse landscape is up to you, but I found the jogs to be a superb way to acquaint myself with the place.
5) CYCLE AROUND
In London, cycling can be fraught with danger; in Bermuda, it’s fraught with safety, as there are only about 20k cars in the entire country and most lie unused – that’s the approximate number passing my house on the school run most mornings! Given that you’re out and about, taking in nature, sampling the local sights, efficiently exchanging oxygen as you go whilst exercising in a low-impact manner, this is such a wonderful and easy way to travel. Should you pass a bus stop you’ll notice a pink or blue sign, each color indicating that you’re running towards or away from Hamilton the capital.
Our group took a superb Cycle Tour with ‘Island Tour Centre‘ who show you some magical parts along the way, including the old defunct railway, which was once the islands only means of transportation, as no cars allowed prior to the mid-1940s – the Rail Trail is well worth a go!
The ultimate ball of energy, Miranda from Metro.co.uk
6) SWIMMING & BEACHES – well it’s an island so you’ve come to the right place! Endless iconic beaches to choose from each one more beautiful than the next! The most famous of which is Horseshoe Bay, with a ribbon of pink sand and lucid waters. None of the beaches we visited were at all overcrowded, and all of them felt completely un-spoilt!
7) JET SKI!
This is definitely a supreme way to see the island from within the turquoise waters, but at pace, it’s not for the faint-hearted as it gets choppy out to sea so just remember to bring your courage as it can go pretty fast! Speed is your friend as it nulls out the choppy waters, but I’m no friend of mad speed nor power sleds, so it was a case of hold tightly and try not to close your eyes! I should point out that everyone in the group absolutely loved the experience, and it’s not hard to see why – from the sea, you’re treated to a masterful panorama of the exquisite coastline.
My favorite bit? Stopping to see a shipwreck with it’s nose sticking out of the water and feeding some of the beautiful fish! P.s. you’ll also go under the smallest drawbridge in the world. You can pick up your jet ski at the ‘Safari’ from Southampton Dock.
Strong ocean game Bermuda! #GoToBermuda @bermuda
A post shared by Faya (Fitness On Toast) (@fitnessontoast) on Mar 13, 2017 at 5:22am PDT
Other aquatic activities you can do? http://www.gotobermuda.co.uk/things-to-do/on-the-water
Swim with the fishes @fitnessontoast A post shared by Jack Guinness (@jackguinness) on Mar 15, 2017 at 3:25am PDT
8) BEACH YOGA (BOGA?) This is pretty much the pinnacle in tranquility; the peaceful sound of the waves gently lapping against the shallow pink sands, the smells of the lightly salted sea air, a soft breeze brushing gently at you whilst the sun warms your body….pure bliss! My class was laid on by local Yoga champions, Kinetix.
9) JUNGLE WALKS AND TARZAN SWINGS
The island offers some wonderfully diverse and surprising scenery, nowhere more than this dramatic tropical jungle scape in Warwick – its prehistoric articulated drooping trees come straight out of Jurassic park. I for one didn’t know that Tarzan branches actually existed but the inner child simply LOVED swinging on them! See boomerang below…
#TarzanMode Just hanging around in #Bermuda love exploring this stunning and diverse landscape, straight outta Jurassic Park! @bermuda #gotobermuda
A post shared by Faya (Fitness On Toast) (@fitnessontoast) on Mar 11, 2017 at 11:06am PST
10) FOOD! We enjoyed the most delicious tasting menu at the Loren Hotel. Were there to have been more time I would’ve loved to try their lunch, as the hotel was nestled right up against the sea and dished out some sublime moon-ocean views too!
Lunch? Find healthy, generous sized lunch bowls at the Village Pantry Bermuda. These are SERIOUS in the wellness leagues, and can comfortably give LA (home of hipster wellness) a run for its money any day of the week. Just look at that thing…
A little something I ordered in @bermuda at the @village_pantry_bda – THE BERRIES BOWL - a filling & delicious veggie, kale salad with topping of quinoa burger Includes strawberries , blueberries, blackberries, walnuts, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds & organic sprouts! Plus a lovely chia dressing! Now that’s what I call a vegetarian tree-nut salad #lunchspo #GoToBermuda A post shared by Faya (Fitness On Toast) (@fitnessontoast) on Mar 22, 2017 at 5:14am PDT
I stayed at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, a supremely comfortable Fairmont-managed resort owned by a local family, and home to a significant and important art collection. In fact, this art collection wasn’t just good for a hotel; it wasn’t just good for a gallery; it was an absolutely world-class knockout. I’ve never seen anything like it. Countless modern masterpieces line the corridors as if some sort of wallpaper. Warhol, Hirst, Lichtenstein, Magritte, Koons, Banksy, Moore, Matisse, and countless more! The mini-collage below is but a random smidgeon of the pieces on display… Even if you don’t stay at The Hamilton Princess it’s well worth popping by to sample the recently renovated Marcus restaurant – the name referring to a fellow Swede who happens to be head chef and a renowned international culinary genius – it offers a delicious and healthy menu which blends local essences with international influence.
THE AMERICAS CUP !!!
There’s going to be a dedicated blog post about this! If you happen to be lucky enough to visit Bermuda over the America’s Cub it’ll be held at the Rib chase of Land Rover BAR on the Great Sound where the 35th America’s Cup, presented by Louis Vuitton, will be held. The schedule of events from 26 May – 27 June is HERE – (BAR is already 2 points ahead as they won the America’s Cup World Series). This is the real deal, and the most historic, prestigious event in world sailing.
I’ll save that for the next installment, as it’s a fascinating insight into what these world-class athletes do to get in shape, and just how physically strenuous their sport is.
For now, signing off with incredible memories of a wonderful warmth, with some excellent traveling companions!
For more information on Bermuda visit www.GoToBermuda.co.uk