Sailing up to the dockyard seems to take forever and it feels like you are circling the island a few times but we later discovered that this is because there is a certain way a ship must approach Bermuda so that it does not crash. It is so precise that tug boats have to assist the cruise ships. This long approach is beneficial in that you basically get to see all of Bermuda.
There aren’t a lot of travel books about Bermuda but we found the most helpful information online. These detailed maps below show where all the attractions are, where the ferries depart from and go to, and even the schedules of the ferries and buses. We printed them out and brought them with us to Bermuda.
On the map below, the very top and center is the Royal Naval Dockyard which is just called the Dockyard or King’s Wharf. The bottom has all the beaches including Horseshoe Bay and Gibbs Light House. In the middle right of the map (in the lavender color) is the City of Hamilton. Further to the right of Hamilton is the town of St. George which is cut off in this map. From the Dockyard you can take a bus or taxi to get to the beaches and to get Hamilton or St. George, a ferry is fastest but you can take a bus or taxi.
The map below shows the attractions in the city of Hamilton which is towards the bottom (in the lavender color). Toward the top of the map is the town of St. George (in the tan color) and all its attractions. From the Dockyard, you can take a bus or taxi to Hamilton or St. George but the ferry is faster.
THE DOCKYARD (KING’S WARF)
The Dockyard, also called King’s Warf, is where the cruise lines dock and it is a small area in the shape of an upside down horseshoe that is very touristy. Since most cruise ships arrive after 3pm, it’s the perfect day to explore the dockyard that has restaurants, small gift shops, and a large indoor shopping area.
I took this picture from the top deck of our cruise ship once it had docked at King’s Warf. I made colorful lines to show where some important things are:
Yellow: This is the main street that is in the shape of a horseshoe. Walking this street, you’ll see all kinds of little shops.
Purple: Taxi line.
Lime Green: Party boat.
Red: This is the street you walk down to get to the bus stop that takes you to Horseshoe Bay. Brown: This is the Victualling Yard which is hidden between buildings.
Orange: Shows you where the ferry’s depart from and arrive.
Aqua: Indoor Clock Tower Shopping Center.
Pink Dot: This is the pink information building where you can buy ferry/ bus tickets.
When you walk off the ship, the first thing you see are the white tents where the taxis line up (Purple). We found the taxi service to be worlds better than any taxi service in the United States. The taxis are clean, air conditioned, and the drivers are wonderfully friendly and eager to talk with you about their island. Prices are only slightly more expensive than United States prices and in retrospect, we should have used taxis during our entire visit instead of the crowded and nausea inducing buses.
To use a taxi, simply walk up to the first taxi in line. USE YOUR MANNERS IN BERMUDA! Say something along the lines of, “Hi, how are you? Could you drive us to wherever, please?” And wait for the driver to respond BEFORE you get into the taxi. They accept American dollars.
Just past the taxi line is a party boat (Lime Green) that has a bar with loud music and people jumping off the plank into the water. It was a younger crowd with some kids.
In the center of the upside down horseshoe is the Pink Dot which is the Information Building. These pink buildings are in all the touristy areas of Bermuda and you can go in here to ask questions about how to get around. They will tell you the best way to get to your destination (ferry, bus, taxi, walking) and you can buy the passes for the ferry and bus here as well. These places are sort of like a concierge at a hotel. We knew the places we wanted to visit and they told us what to do to get to each place. It was so easy!
The Brown Line in my colored map is the Victualling Yard which is hidden between buildings. At the end of the walkway is a little gift shop on the right and restaurant on the left. If you walk past the shop and restaurant, you hit the street which on my colorful map is the Red Line. The end of the Red Line curves around the backside of the Victualling Yard. The Red Line is where the bus stop is to get to Horseshoe Bay.
DO NOT SIT AT THE FRONT OF THE BUS! Whenever a woman or someone elderly enters the bus, the people sitting at the very front need to stand and give up their seat. There are hand rails over head to hold on to but it is really difficult to remain standing on the way to Horseshoe Bay because there are so many curvy streets. As more people enter the bus, if you are standing, you get pushed back further and further and standing at the very back of the bus made my husband nauseous. To avoid this, it’s better to simply take a seat at the middle or back of the bus when you first get on.
This is the Clock Tower Shopping Center. (Aqua)
On our first full day in Bermuda, we took the ferry to Hamilton which is the capital city of Bermuda and has attractions such as the Aquatic Museum and Zoo and Crystal Caves. After disembarking the ferry, we first walked up and down the street you see below. It’s just a bunch of shops.
Menswear in Bermuda is very unique. Businessmen wear Bermuda shorts with socks pulled up to the knee. This is considered very fashionable but more importantly, it is comfortable in the sweltering heat of Bermuda.
Tiny cars are the norm in Bermuda.
After walking up and down this street, we went to the taxi line which is near the area where you get off the ferry. The ride to the Aquatic Museum and Zoo was quick and also enjoyable due to our very friendly driver.
Aquatic Museum and Zoo
We would not recommend this excursion because the zoo was small and underwhelming and the aquatic part wasn’t even open.
The tiny little restaurant served hamburgers, sandwiches, chips, cookies and such but it all was incredibly expensive so we were glad we had brought chips and sandwiches with us from the cruise ship.
After visiting the Aquatic Museum and Zoo we caught the bus which was directly across the street from the front entrance of the zoo. We had already bought bus tokens at the Information Center at the Dockyard. Our next destination was St. Peter’s Church in the town of St. George.
TOWN OF ST. GEORGE
St. George has more touristy shops plus St. Peter’s Church, Fort St Catherine, The Bermuda Heritage Museum, and Tobacco Bay.
St. Peter’s Church
This is the oldest Protestant church still being used today. There is no entrance fee but they ask that you make a $5 donation for the upkeep of the church.
Bermuda Heritage Museum
This is located in the same area as St. Peter’s Church but it is very hard to find a difficult to get to. We had to walk up narrow streets without sidewalks to reach it and were afraid we’d get hit by a car. When we got there we were surprised at how expensive the tickets were. The building is completely without air conditioning and there weren’t even any fans nor windows open so we were sweating up a storm. The museum itself is tiny and only has small amount of historical items. Out of all our excursions, this was the one we regretted most. After this visit, we walked back toward St. Peter’s Church to catch the bus back to the Dockyard.
You’ll notice in Bermuda that all the roofs are white. This is because the material comes from the local quarry and it is required that roofs remain in their natural color, but Bermudians can paint their home any color they want.
On our last day in Bermuda we went to Horseshoe Bay. We bought our bus tokens at the Information Center and then waited under the tent which is at the end of the Red Line on my colorful map of the Dockyard.
When you board the bus, let the driver know you are going to Horseshoe Bay and when the bus gets there he will call it out so you know where to get off. As mentioned before, don’t sit at the front of the bus because if a lady or elderly person gets on the bus, you’ll have to give up your seat for them and standing on the bus is tough because the road curves a lot.
When you get off the bus, you cross the street and turn right. You can’t see the beach from here. You have to walk down a very steep street and at the bottom are bathrooms where you can change. There are also a lot of taxis here for people who don’t want to walk back up the hill at the end of their beach visit.
Most people congregate at the entrance of the beach, but the further you walk, the more open the beach becomes. There are a lot of lifeguards on duty and every so often you’ll see them all run down the sand and do laps in the ocean Baywatch style.
Horseshoe Bay is known for its pink sand but we actually only saw a slight hint of pink.
There is a strong wave near the sand and a lot of kids sat there, enjoying being knocked over by the wave. If you go further into the water, like where my husband is in the middle of the picture with his arms up, there is a gentle wave in the water and it’s like being in the wave pool at a waterpark. We stayed out there the entire day and it was really relaxing.
To leave the beach, you have to walk back up the very steep hill but if you prefer, you can take a taxi up the hill.
Even though this beach was not as beautiful as we had read it was going to be, we really enjoyed it because of the relaxing wave in the ocean and thankfully we were there on a cloudy day so we didn’t burn. We took the bus back to the Dockyard and felt overall that our visit to Bermuda was very enjoyable and would recommend it to everyone.