1. It’s tiny. No Target, no Walmart, no GINORMOUS supermarkets. No big box stores. End to end, Bermuda is about 26 miles. That’s right. A marathon.
As for the width? You are never more than a mile from the water. Total square miles: about 23.
2. That said, you won’t be covering those 26 miles end to end in 20 minutes. Figure an hour and 15 minutes by scooter/taxi (oh, by the way: you cannot rent cars on Bermuda, only scooters. You can also hire a cab or ride the bus.). There are more little lanes than you can imagine, but just three main roads: North Shore, Middle Road, South Road (or South Shore).
3. Learn to say “Good Morning!” and “Good Afternoon!” and “Good Evening!” when you enter a store, the post office, get into a cab, on a bus, get to the cashier at the grocery store, walk by someone on the Rail Trail. That is simply good manners here. If you don’t say it, you might get the cold shoulder.
4. Bermuda is easy to reach from the East Coast–about 2 hours from New York, Philadelphia, DC. About 2.5 hours from Charlotte (direct flights only in Summer months). About 3 hours from Atlanta and Miami and Boston. Many airlines come to Bermuda from the US and Canada. Only one airline flies east from the island, British Airways.
5. Bermuda is not the Caribbean. If you were to head due west from Bermuda you’d hit (very roughly) the border between North and South Carolina. “Season” is summer, although the mild weather extends well into December, even January. The winter days can be blustery almost as easily as they can be mild, although anyone on a scooter will be bundled up. Tourists swim most of the year, although locals don’t go into the water until late May and wouldn’t be caught swimming on Christmas Day like all those crazy expats at Elbow Beach.
6. Bermuda is quiet in the winter. Tourists still head to the island, but most cruise ships do not during the winter months. Many small shop owners take January and Febuary off. The hotels, of course, remain open. Check all the activities for seasonal hours.
7. Bermuda keeps Sunday hours. Very few shops are open on Sundays. Grocery stores don’t open until about 1 p.m. and close early on Sundays.
8. The Bermuda dollar is 1-for-1 with the US dollar. You can spend any US dollars here without worrying about changing money (you cannot spend your Bermuda dollars in the US that way, so don’t get left with too many on your way home).
9. Bermudians drink their rain water–all those white roofs catch the water and channel it into large water tanks below just about every building you see. Some hotels do have small desalination plants, but the island does not. The water IS safe to drink, but if you would rather not or if you can “taste” the water (good water has no taste, right?) OR if the roof of the building you are in is not clean, there’s plenty of bottled water available and recently the city installed “hydration stations” in town (Hamilton), where the water, I can attest, tastes just fine. I almost never drink bottled water, although there are a few places where I know I can taste the water and, therefore, I opt for bottled water in those places.
10. Because Bermudians drink the rain water, please be considerate and be frugal with your water usage, especially if you are staying in a private home, a small guest house or a rented apartment. Take short showers, don’t let the taps run, don’t let the toilets run. Owners will appreciate it.
11. I find Bermuda quite British, although the British people I know find it quite American. Here’s what I know: they drive on the left side of the road. They spell theater “theatre,” center “centre”, color colour and harbor “harbour.” There IS a Marks and Spencer (very British) in Bermuda, but no Target. There are red phone boxes and red mail boxes all over the island. Bermudians are entitled to UK passports (although UK passport holders are not entitled to Bermuda passports–it’s too small in Bermuda to let everyone in!). But you be the judge when you get to the island.