How many of these places and spaces have you visited? If there are any you’ve yet to explore, put them on your Bermuda bucket list and plan to visit them soon.
1. National Museum of Bermuda
With five centuries packed into a historic location, the National Museum of Bermuda is applauded for its commitment to the preservation of Bermuda’s history and identity. Among the shipwrecked treasures, early maps, and celebrated Graham Foster mural, the first floor of the Commissioner’s House houses an exhibit devoted to 200 years of enslavement, from the early years of settlement through Emancipation. With free public lectures and a new education strategy that will bring the island’s history to schools, the efforts of this women-led team, including executive director Elena Strong, could not go unnoticed. Look out for United Together, a programme launched during the Covid-19 pandemic that will provide a living history and a record for future generations of what life is like now.
2. African Bermuda Dispersion Cultural Tour
It is said that history acts as both map and mirror, and Rashida Godwin has charted a course for reflection with the African Bermuda Dispersion Cultural Tour, an activity she created with husband Winston. Participants are taken on a “Sankofa Journey” that vividly recalls and honours Black Bermuda history. Borrowed from the Twi language of Ghana, sankofa means “it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.” Visiting sites include the Old Graveyard by the Rubber Tree in Warwick—a now disused memorial for enslaved and free blacks who were buried before Emancipation. Legends such as Sarah “Sally” Bassett and Mary Prince are brought back to life through the expert storytelling of the Godwins and their tour guides, Gina Davis, Ajala Omodele and Carlsen Phillip. Embracing history, participants leave the experience enlightened by what is truly a celebration of Black Bermuda. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Godwins have turned their tours into online talks.
3. Bermuda Transport Museum
Vintage motorbikes, 1950s Mobylettes, Bermuda Cedar buggies, and classic cars will transport you back in time at the Royal Naval Dockyard’s Transport Museum. Vintage vehicle collector Paul Martins, who opened the museum in the Chicane Building in 2017 with business partner Luciano Alcardi, has even acquired a huge wing sail from Oracle Team USA’s foiling catamaran. Locals are slowly catching on to this special space after images circulated on social media when it was hired for a standout party.
4. Crystal Cave & Fantasy Cave
We’ve all heard the legend: two Bermudian boys in the early 1900s were playing cricket when their ball fell down a hole. When the boys went to retrieve the ball, they discovered it had fallen into a deep cavernous space underground. It was only when they descended into the hole that they understood the significance of their find, which we know today as Crystal Caves. For those who have visited before, it is no surprise that Crystal Caves have attracted famous visitors for over a century, including music superstar Beyoncé and American poet Mark Twain, who reported in a letter: “The most beautiful cave in the world… splendid with shining stalactites, thousands and thousands of them as white as sugar…” It is credited with inspiring the creators of Fraggle Rock. The stunning caves are not all for show, either; they provide an interesting lesson in Bermuda geology and a fascinating look at the change in sea level over the years. If you aren’t persuaded to visit Crystal Caves for their beauty or history, go for the cave “kisses”; they really are something special.
5. Pilot Darrell’s House
If you’re a seafaring enthusiast, you’ll know that Bermuda’s economy has always been a maritime one. In the early years of settlement, enslaved persons from Africa and the West Indies were brought to the island and forced to learn seafaring skills. One such man was James “Jemmy” Darrell, a skilled pilot who guided foreign boats inshore through Bermuda’s treacherous system of reefs. When he was 47, he guided Rear Admiral George Murray’s ship into what is now known as Murray’s Anchorage. The admiral was so impressed that he wrote to the governor to ask that Jemmy Darrell be granted his freedom. With his great skill, Darrell continued to be a successful pilot and was the first black man to buy a home in Bermuda. You can visit the historic house on Aunt Peggy’s Lane in the town of St. George.
6. Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo
“To inspire appreciation and care of island environments” is the mission of the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ), which opened in 1926 when the Bermuda Government recognized an opportunity to boost the island’s rising tourism industry. Today, BAMZ is a leader in environmental education and conservation, presenting locals and visitors with opportunities to learn more about Bermuda’s natural history and ways to preserve our island for future generations. BAMZ is on par with the best aquariums and zoos in the world, boasting, among other things, a 12,000-gallon Northrock tank, the Madagascar exhibit, and a state-of-the-art natural history museum. With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that 15 percent of Bermudians are BAMZ members.
7. Carter House
This historic site is in the most out-of-the-way of places, standing on the side of the road in St. David’s. When St. David’s Island was occupied by the U.S. military, they were prudent enough to conserve the little cottage, which was one of the very first houses built in Bermuda. After the Sea Venture’s colonists wrecked on Bermuda’s shores, they quickly built another boat to continue on to Virginia, to support the colony there. However, 3 men were asked to stay behind to continue British legacy in Bermuda. Christopher Carter was one of these men, and his descendants build Carter House in 1640. The house is mostly in its original condition, having withstood countless hurricanes since it was built. It now contains a museum focusing on the history of St. David’s.
8. County Cricket Games
Cup Match is Bermuda’s most popular cultural event, but Bermudians tend to forget the smaller county games held throughout the summer months. At these cricket matches, a carnival atmosphere prevails, as people from the neighbourhood come out to support their team and enjoy the small-scale festivities. Of course, no Bermudian cricket game would be complete without a Crown and Anchor table, but even so, the madness of Cup Match is replaced with a family ambiance and good Bermudian culture.
9. Bermuda National Trust Museum at the Globe Hotel
Housed in a historically significant building in the east end, the National Trust Museum is sure to entice even those who thought they would never be interested in history. The stories often include characters from Bermuda’s past are told through the houses they lived in and the properties they occupied. The museum’s building was built by a past governor and is one of the oldest stonework buildings in Bermuda, dating from the 1700s. Bermuda’s geographical position meant that it was heavily involved in the American Civil War, and the offices of a confederate agent were housed in the building that now houses the museum. There are many other Bermuda National Trust properties in St. George, and visitors will delight in exploring the town.
For only $5 you can immerse yourself in Bermuda art at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, exploring artists such as Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keefe and Henry Moore who drew inspiration from our island. Masterworks is also dedicated to providing our island with accessible local art. In addition to the Charmin Prize, an art competition that encourages Bermudian artists to showcase their work, Masterworks Museum features local work in its Rick Faries Art Gallery every other Friday year-round.
11. St. Peter’s Church & Graveyard
Bermuda’s oldest building, St. Peter’s Church, was built in 1612 by Bermuda’s first settlers looking for a place to worship. Then it was a simple wooden building with a thatched roof, which proved too insubstantial, and the building was rebuilt in stone in 1713. Everything in and around this church dates back centuries; the church’s chalice dates from 1625 and the church’s furniture is among the oldest in Bermuda. Of course, with old churches come old graveyards, and St. Peter’s provides a resting place for many of Bermuda’s most famous individuals, including Pilot James Darrell, the first black man to own a home, and Midshipman Dale, the last American to die in the War of 1812.
12. Walsingham Nature Reserve
Better known as Tom Moore’s Jungle, the Walsingham Nature Reserve is a 12-acre private trust open to the public with a fascinating variety of nature to explore. The reserve features many interesting natural Bermudian wonders, including caves with both stalactites and stalagmites, a grotto and a mangrove pond home to fish and a turtle. When one walks through the fence opening and into the trees, it’s easy to be transported to another time when Bermuda was densely lush and sparsely populated. Located on the same property is Tom Moore’s Tavern, built in 1652 as a private home for the Trott family. This beautiful 17th century home is still in its original state but now operates as a fine dining restaurant, Bermuda’s oldest restaurant in fact.
13. Spirit of Bermuda
The Spirit of Bermuda is a stunning throwback to yesteryear, an exemplary purpose-built training vessel based on schooners designed and built by Bermudians in the nineteenth century. There are abundant opportunities available to both children and adults to travel onboard Spirit on sailing voyages overseas. For anyone who’s ever dreamed of witnessing the sunset on the open ocean or taking watch overnight on a moving vessel, crossing the Atlantic on the Spirit of Bermuda is both the chance of a lifetime and an opportunity to explore our maritime history first-hand. During the summer months, a number of voyages are open to the public, including the Newport Bermuda Race, Bermuda to Chesapeake Bay, Bermuda to Sargasso Sea, and Bermuda to Rockport, Maine. Visit www.bermudasloop.org for more information.
14. Bermuda Arts Centre Dockyard
Located in Dockyard is the Bermuda Arts Centre, a place that provides a platform for creative Bermudians to showcase their work. Its studio spaces and revolving series of exhibitions include original work from the best local painters, photographers, sculptors and textile artists. It is a place that nurtures and showcases Bermudian talent. If you’re not in time to catch a specific show, there is a print gallery and gift shop. They also run a regular range of workshops which are open to all, and featuring artists and craftspeople such as Ronnie Chameau, Chris Marson and Eli Cedrone.
15. Town of St. George
Founded in August 1612, the Town of St. George is the earliest English urban settlement in the New World. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, the old town maintains a wealth of history from original homes and churches dating back to the earliest settlers, replicas and statues from our founding days and museums and buildings where you can travel back in time to understand how our ancestors lived without modern conveniences. Its value as a historical site must be cherished for generations to come as teaching a child our history in a classroom has nothing on going and seeing it in action.
16. The Railway Trail
Once upon a time, Bermuda was a quiet island. There was only one form of motorized transportation besides the motorcycle, and Old Rattle and Shake was her name. Built in 1931, the Bermuda Railway was the Bermuda Government’s answer to providing mass transport for locals and visitors without cars disrupting the peace and quiet tourists had come here to find. For 17 years, Bermuda’s little train made dozens of trips per day from Somerset all the way to St. George’s, providing riders with the most exquisite views of the island. Sadly, due to low ridership, the Bermuda Government shut the railway down in 1948. Fast-forward to 1984 when the government converted the old railway lines into picturesque trails for walkers, cyclists and horseback riders. Those who commit to traveling the entire trail will not be disappointed; the views take in the coastal shoreline, Bermuda’s stunning beaches and natural woodland with canopied paths.
17. The Bermuda Craft Market
Located in the Royal Naval Dockyard, the Bermuda Craft Market occupies the Cooperage Building, a former warehouse and barrel workshop built in 1831. It is the island’s largest craft marketplace and features the work of more than 60 local artists. Among the Bermuda-made wares, you’ll find Bermudian cedar work, ceramics, candles, jewellery and textiles like needlework and quilts. It is also a great spot to sample and buy Bermuda foods, like Outerbridge’s Sherry Peppers, Bermuda Honey, pepper jam from the Bermuda Jam Factory and Horton’s original Bermuda Black Rum Cakes.
18. Verdmont House
This elegant old Bermuda house turned museum is an important site for the African Diaspora Heritage Trail. The large house has been beautifully restored, and boasts grounds full of native plants like cedar and palmetto, and a shaded citrus garden. The Trust maintains the 300-year-old property, including three floors, a drawing room and parlour, and various artifacts from the 1700s, including ornate wooden furniture, silver ornaments and children’s toys. The home was built and maintained by enslaved persons for 125 years until slavery was abolished – the quarters for enslaved residents can still be viewed today.
19. Heydon Trust
Visit to the Heydon Trust park feels like stepping back into the Bermuda of a bygone time. These 43 acres of sprawling parkland and gardens also contain the smallest church in Bermuda – a nondenominational Christian church built in 1620. The property and church services are almost completely run by volunteers. James Heydon was a member of the Bermuda Company, a group of investors that governed the island in the 1700s, and he set up the stunning property. The grounds are now a haven for birds. On the edge of the property, you can also get to the water and take in the view.
20. Johnny Barnes Statue
Johnny Barnes was an electrician by trade and worked on the Bermuda Railroad as until the it closed in 1948. He then became a bus driver. Barnes was fond of waving to people while driving the bus, and would occasionally sit and wave to people on his breaks or when coming to work. He proceeded to spend over 50 years greeting the island every morning from his dedicated post at the bottom of Trimingham Hill, eliciting smiles, waves and toots from passing motorists. The Desmond Fountain statue was unveiled in 1998, and before he passed in 2016, Jonny shared his final wish: “May my absence from the bench at the roundabout and my statue, ‘The Spirit of Bermuda’, remind you to share love, and kindness with each other.” We have all benefited from the “I love yous” received from Johnny in the morning over the years, and to spend a moment remembering his spirit is a good place to go.
21. City Hall
The City Hall & Arts Centre on Church Street is a place oozing with the spirit of Bermuda, the veritable beating heart of arts on the Island. It is home to the Bermuda National Gallery, the Bermuda Society of Arts gallery, and the Earl Cameron Theatre. In the galleries, you’ll find permanent collections and rotating exhibitions of local artists working in a range of mediums. The theatre is where you’ll catch local performing arts productions throughout the year including concerts, awards, plays, musicals and the annual pantomime.
22. Long Story Short
On Water Street in the Town of St. George you’ll find Kristin White and her business Long Story Short. The little bookshop is full of gifts and books that feature female authors, artisans and entrepreneurs, and highlighting women of colour. She also hosts readings and offers her award-winning history tours of St George’s on foot or by bike. Long Story Short is also the home of the award-winning local artisan skincare line, Salt Spray Soap Co. Bermuda spirit is absolutely bursting out of this small space.
23. Wherever the Gombeys Lead
Though there isn’t a particular place to go and see them, throughout the year (and especially on Boxing Day) you’ll find Bermuda’s iconic Gombey troupes dancing down the streets and alleys. The Gombeys are lively, colourful, and rhythmic dancers who move to the beat of drummers and the sounds of a whistle, which the captain uses to punctuate the choreography and direct. Their costumes cover their bodies from head to toe and are decorated with tassels, mirrors, and other small items. The Gombey tradition on the island goes back to at least the early 1800s – it’s a vibrant blend of African, Native American, Caribbean and British cultures. The dances provided a way for enslaved persons to express themselves and to this day they perform dances that tell stories of resistance and survival. The Gombey dancers are the pulse and rhythm of Bermudian culture, so when you hear it, follow it.