Here at Glitter Guide, we’re always looking for fun new adventures—so when the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) and Turner PR invited us to come explore the island and watch the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series (aka the qualifier for the 35th America’s Cup, which will take place in Bermuda in 2017), we immediately said yes! Editor Abby headed to Bermuda last Thursday for 5 days on the beautiful island, and today she’s sharing her travel diary, which is brimming with exciting activities, fun facts, local gems and more. You’ll be tempted to book a trip to Bermuda as soon as you finish reading!
I arrived in Bermuda around 11:30 a.m. Since this was my first time on the island, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but my immediate observations were: 1. That flight was so short! (It’s about a two-hour flight from New York City) and 2. Everyone here is so incredibly nice and welcoming! (I mean, when the guy working at customs spends an extra few minutes telling you about the best beaches and recommending where to eat/what to drink, you instantly understand just how welcoming Bermudians are!)
After customs, I met up with Megan from Turner PR, and Kelly and Erin Framel of The Glamorai, who were also joining me on the trip. As we got in the cab to head to the hotel, I was already mesmerized by the surrounding scenery—clear blue waters, palm trees and the most colorful homes scattered along the coast.
FUN FACT: Each family is only allowed to own one car on the island. Visitors are not allowed to rent cars at all, but they can rent scooters! Also: Everyone drives on the left side of the road.
When we pulled up to the Fairmont Southampton hotel, I could immediately tell that my stay was going to be amazing! The pretty pink building is perched on a hill that overlooks the ocean. There’s a private beach nearby, two stunning pools and a golf course with pink golf carts. I’d slept very little in the past 24 hours, so I was tempted to take a nap right after check-in—but when I got to my room and saw that it overlooked the beautiful beach, I just had to throw on my bathing suit and some sunscreen and head down to the water!
The beach was absolutely spectacular! With its soft pinkish sand and crystal blue waters, it might have been the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been on. I plopped myself down on a chair and decided to just simply relax and take everything in. I got back up to my room in time to shower and change for cocktail hour, which took place at The Dock at The Waterlot Inn at the Fairmont Southampton. With a Dark and Stormy cocktail in hand, I got to meet and mingle with the other guests on the trip under some pretty string lights. We enjoyed the most gorgeous Bermuda sunset—it was truly magical!
WHAT TO DRINK: A Dark and Stormy made with Gosling’s Rum and Barritt’s Ginger Beer (both local to the island), and a Rum Swizzle, known to many as Bermuda’s national cocktail (it’s fruity but also has a bit of spice to it).
LOCAL GEM: Checking out the Swizzle Inn, where the island’s signature Rum Swizzle originated, is a must! It’s less than a mile away from the airport, so it can serve as a wonderful welcome to the island.
I was definitely feeling jet-lagged when my alarm went off at 7 a.m. on Friday morning. I was determined to push through, however, as I was so excited to try Jet Skiing for the first time!
I’ll admit: By the time we arrived in St. George’s to go Jet Skiing, I did start to feel a bit nervous—especially since I was the only one in my group who had never been on a Jet Ski before. I’m no thrill seeker or speed demon, either! I was definitely a little shaky at first, but everyone in the group was so supportive, helpful and encouraging! About 30 minutes into our adventure, I was feeling so much more comfortable on the Jet Ski, and I really began enjoying it. We skied past Castle Island, Silvio Berlusconi’s place, Ross Perot’s home and Michael Bloomberg’s property. Before heading back to the hotel and onto our next activity, we stopped by Sweet Saak Bakery to pick up some goodies for the rest of our group.
FUN FACT: Buying property in Bermuda is extremely difficult (and astronomically expensive!). Typically, non-Bermudians can only buy property from other non-Bermudians. This interesting article provides more information about this!
LOCAL GEM: Sweet Saak Bakery sells the most lovely breads, sweets and treats. I highly recommend the cinnamon buns!
I was quite exhausted after Jet Skiing, but when I found out that our next “activity” entailed lounging around on a catamaran with food and drinks, I was on board (literally!). A group of around 15 of us hopped on for a relaxing afternoon on the Great Sound. We got to see a few of the America’s Cup teams practicing on the water (which was very cool), and then we were able to swim or snorkel if we wanted. As I sat on the catamaran sipping a Rum Swizzle, sampling the delicious treats from Sweet Saak and enjoying some reggae music, I felt so incredibly lucky!
The day didn’t end there! We quickly changed and then headed to Front Street in Hamilton for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series opening ceremony and a waterfront dinner at 1609. Walking down Front Street, I got to feel the energy of the crowd and peruse all the local vendors who had set up tables for the night’s festivities. We made our way to the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, where wine, Champagne and appetizers—along with a spectacular fireworks display—awaited us!
LOCAL GEM: If you are in Hamilton, make sure to check out all the art in the Fairmont Hamilton Princess. You’ll find some Andy Warhol and Banksy pieces!
Having learned that one of the best ways to explore the island is via water, I immediately signed up for Saturday morning’s kayaking excursion. A small group of us headed to Crystal Clear Kayaks, where we got in clear-bottom kayaks. Our tour guide instructor, Aaron, gave us each a bag of bread for a “surprise,” which we soon learned was the chance to feed swarms of fish congregating around a shipwreck (known as the Vixen) off of Daniel’s Head! From there we paddled over to an area known for having lots of turtles, which we all got really excited about. While it was an overcast morning with some light rain, the air was peaceful and the water was calm. It was such a lovely time on the water!
MUST-TRY ACTIVITY: Exploring the island by Jet Skis or kayaks. I highly recommend Crystal Clear Kayaks—we had such an amazing time, and our tour guide instructors were so awesome and knowledgeable! Another great way to explore the island: biking.
Time before the next activity was tight—I had only 15 minutes to change and get ready for our first day at the America’s Cup. We were going to be watching the races from Club AC, a tented space that overlooked the water and was stocked with plenty of Moët Champagne and delicious appetizers! Unfortunately, the event was called off halfway through the afternoon due to a lack of wind. Since our buses weren’t scheduled to leave until 4 p.m., Megan and I decided to pop over to Front Street to explore. We enjoyed some people-watching before meeting up with Amanda Temple, a wonderful local photographer, at a little cafe. The opportunity to talk to a lot of locals on this trip was so nice—you can really feel their love for their island and community!
LOCAL GEM: Make sure to check out Alexandra Mosher‘s jewelry when you’re on the island. Her beautiful handcrafted pieces are inspired by Bermuda’s natural beauty and pink-hued sand!
The grand finale for Saturday night was a fancy dinner, thrown by Moët Champagne, at the stunning Rosewood Tucker’s Point. Let me tell you: Moët knows how to throw a dinner party. When I was getting ready for the dinner and deciding which dress to wear (I went with a floor-length kimono-style dress from ASOS), Moët sent a bottle of Champagne up to my room! I enjoyed a few sips on my balcony before meeting the rest of the group and heading to the Rosewood. It was raining, so the dinner was held in a beautiful covered outdoor area. Gold Moët Champagne goblets were passed around as an amazingly talented electric violinist played. It was elegant yet relaxed, like something out of a movie—another one of the many “pinch me!” moments I experienced on the trip.
Excitement was in the air on Sunday. The wind had picked up, and three races were scheduled to take place later that afternoon. But first, we had the opportunity to tour the Oracle Team USA base camp for a behind-the-scenes look at the boats and the team. Before this tour, I had no idea how much work, effort and technical skill went into prepping both the boats and the team for sailing. Sailing is truly an absolutely amazing sport—from the supremely complicated building of huge boats to the team members’ workouts, diets and ultimate navigation of wind and water. The tour made me even more excited for the day’s impending races; it also gave me a new understanding of and appreciation for everything I would soon see.
After the incredible tour we headed back to Club AC, where we saw the America’s Cup trophy up close and personal. We toasted to an afternoon of races before boarding the Elizabeth so we could view the races from the water (yes, the water!). We had front-row seats to all the action (and the boat was stocked with even more Moët Champagne, plus Dark and Stormys, Rum Swizzles and fresh seafood). Due to the cancellation the day before, there were three races—each about 20 minutes long with a double-point scoring system. I can’t tell you how cool it was to see those races unfold in front of our eyes. While America won the first race, Artemis Racing (Sweden) ended up winning the entire cup.
We saw the award ceremony when the races concluded, then went back to the hotel to change into party clothes for a closing party at Elbow Beach, which was a wonderful time.
WHAT TO EAT: Locals’ favorites dishes include mussel pie, fish chowder, fish sandwiches and rum cakes.
FUN FACT: We met the man in charge of guarding the physical America’s Cup around the clock! He told us that the trunk of the trophy is essentially worth more than the cup itself, but that the cup obviously has more historical value. He said no one has tried to steal the trophy on his watch—and also that it would be extremely hard to steal because it’s so heavy!
I woke up on Monday morning to another beautiful day in Bermuda; the breeze blowing through my balcony door. I decided to savor my last few hours on the island by ordering breakfast in bed and then taking one last walk on the beach.
At noon I packed my bag and caught a bus to the airport with a few others who had been on the trip. We chatted about how wonderful the last few days had been. Campbell from Turner PR debated the island’s best fish sandwich (a very controversial topic, I quickly learned) with the driver.
LOCAL GEM: I’m not a huge fan of seafood, but after taking a quick poll I gathered that Woody’s (where fish sandwiches are made daily based on what was caught earlier that morning) is one of the most popular places on the island. If you’re a foodie and/or big fish fan, consider sampling fish sandwiches from Woody’s, Art Mel’s and Rosa’s, and then deciding for yourself which sandwich is best.
On my plane ride home, I opened my laptop to begin compiling this travel diary. As I scrolled through the thousands of photos I snapped, I realized that choosing a favorite part of the trip would be a nearly impossible task. The beaches were absolutely stunning. The activities were seemingly endless. The locals were probably the nicest human beings I’ve ever met. And did I mention that the buses—and even some of the porta-potties—were pink?! (I never thought a porta-potty could be in any way cute, but I stand corrected.)
So many people were shocked that I came all the way from California for this adventure, but I can honestly say that it was 100 percent worth it—and that I’ll definitely be back again! If this post has piqued your interest in taking an island vacation, sailing or simply experiencing a truly awesome event, I’d strongly suggest looking into a trip to Bermuda for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017. If this year’s qualifier is even the slightest indication of what’s to come, you can expect the experience of a lifetime!