Notwithstanding whatever troubles Mark Twain experienced in the 19th century, Bermuda is easily accessible in the 21st century despite reputation and rumors of Bermuda triangle stories.
In fact, Bermuda's attraction in part derives from how easy it is to get there. About an hour flight from some East Coast cities and under two hours from New York lands you on the island within minutes from most any activity.
Actually, the island represents only the north side tip of the famed triangle, and a jaunt from New York of just under 800 miles does not encompass any of the "dangerous waters." Experts have concluded that the documented disappearances in the triangle represent about the same number of mysterious events that have occurred in other such places perhaps even less considering the heavy traffic passing through the Caribbean.
And Bermuda is not in the Caribbean, as many think. It lies directly east of North Carolina, and temperatures do not reflect the warmer, balmier climates of the Caribbean islands at least during the winter months. In early April, the weather felt more akin to England, from which Bermudans derive their heritage. But even during the winter months, temperatures average in the 60s, and the summer months see the mercury rise to the mid 80s.
Tourist season begins April 1 amid temperatures hovering in the mid 60s. That is perfect for golf, but not so perfect for snorkeling, scuba diving and beach bumming activities we skipped because of the timing of our visit. But there was plenty else to do.
Golf courses overlook the ocean, offering scenic vistas of clear turquoise water and scenic rock formations on the shallow ocean floor. Under a bright sun and just 68 degrees, we were tempted to walk the course. But that thought quickly passed after all, we were on vacation.
So I tied in my clubs to the back of the cart, and the friendly Bermudan wished us a good time but warned me not to cheat. I showed mock offense and said, "I never cheat." And he smilingly replied, "Oh, you just lie!"
It's all about fun here, but my son explained to our newly found friend and me that I couldn't claim a good score unless I played straight up, after which our wise friend counseled my son, saying: "Even Jesus has a fish story, see John 21." But, as usual, my son got the last word in as he came back and said, "This is golf, not fishing."
We had to purchase a few golf balls, as they were not supplied with the rental clubs. The lady behind the counter not only explained to us that these were experienced golf balls, and that exact phrase was printed out on our receipt. I told her she really had a gig going here, because the main experience these balls had was getting lost, and I didn't need any experience in that.
Oh well, we made it through 11 holes before I got tired of tromping through the sticker bushes looking for my ball. But there aren't many courses where you can lose your ball in the ocean and see it from a hundred yards above. And even Pebble Beach doesn't have any bamboo groves.
Promotional brochures tout a temperate climate with magnificent pink sand beaches colored by the remains of a tiny organism known as the red foam. A host of activities where you do not have to get in the water are available. Museums, old forts (they claim 90), ruins and other structures offer historical sites of interest. Crystal cave is a popular attraction where rare geological formations are showcased.
Bermuda's Aquarium, Museum & Zoo is the premier visitor attraction, housing more than 200 species of fish and 300 birds, reptiles and mammals among manicured gardens.
The Botanical Gardens is set on 35 acres of landscaped park where hundreds of flowers, shrubs and trees are identified. But no matter where you travel on this island, there is a profuse array of flowers, trees and greenery that offers a dramatic contrast to the deserts of Utah.
St. Peter's is the first church built in Bermuda, built in 1612, and is believed to be the oldest continually used church in the Western Hemisphere. If you have the energy, you can climb the 155 stairs leading to the top of the tower to experience a fabulous panoramic view of the island and surroundings.
The island runs east and west and stretches only 21 miles. It is only one mile wide at the widest spot, making any attraction easy to find and easy to get to. On our golf outing we walked from St. Georges, a seaside village on the south side of the island, to Tobacco Bay, a favorite snorkeling locale in warm weather, on the north side of the island. In between, we encountered the golf course and rested by getting the cart and playing a few holes. The entire journey was easily under a mile. According to the signs, it was just over a kilometer.
Don't look for fast food chains on this island of 65,000 people. The government outlawed them, but not before one KFC was established. But you won't recognize it with no Colonel Sanders pictures in sight.
Many Bermudans travel by scooter as a cheap means of transportation. And many tourists rent scooters as a fun way to explore the island. But there are hazards involved. On our tour bus, one girl exclaimed as we entered the capital city of Hamilton, "Look, they drive on the wrong side of the road!" After which someone else remarked, "If you just noticed that, I hope you're not renting a scooter."
Bermuda takes its name from Juan de Bermudez, a Spanish sailor who stopped by in 1503 and again in 1515, but because there was no gold, he didn't stay. It wasn't until 1609 that the island was inhabited, when a British ship called the Sea Venture crashed onto the reefs with some 150 passengers headed to Jamestown. They were forced to stay in Bermuda and make a new life. The island became a strategic point for Britain during its skirmishes with the American colonies.
Bermuda is actually made up of hundreds of "little islands." It is said that if you build a sand castle, they will call it one of their islands. But this topography, along with all the reefs, accounts for the many shipwrecks that can now be explored in scuba diving activities.
The famed Bermuda shorts are the dress of choice for men. High black socks and sometimes a blue blazer complement the outfit, which can be found even during the winter months.
Shopping, of course, is a favorite activity of the 600,000 tourists who visit each year. But don't plan on doing it in the evening. The Spaniard, Bermudez, just as well could have founded this colony, as I thought the shopkeepers were taking a Mexican siesta one day at about 4:30. It turns out the shops were closed. The signs in their shops say they are open 9 until 5, but if you expect them to linger a few minutes later it's not like Dillard's.
On another day I was looking for a specific T-shirt, and that shop did not have my size. I was referred to another shop, after which I asked if the store closed at five. The sales clerk advised me, "You better get there by 4:30."My son gleefully remarked: "I want to come here to get a job!"
If you go ...
Getting there: From New York, plane fares average around $400 round trip. Some East Coast cities may be less. Bermuda is a popular destination for cruise ships because the high season in Bermuda is usually the low season in the Caribbean, therefore ships will stay in port there usually from two to four days versus shorter stops in the Caribbean.
Accommodations: Most any accommodation is available small hotel, large hotel, bed and breakfast, condo, timeshare, etc.; albeit costs range a bit pricier than the average stateside room.
Information: See www.Bermuda.com. Costs for food, drink and shopping in general are higher than the average Caribbean islands.