Bermuda was always a dream vacation spot, drawing travelers with its limestone cliffs, clear blue skies, and sandy beaches. But after months being locked inside, it’s a downright fantasy. While the pandemic has drastically altered travel, visitors can still explore the island as long as they comply with the new safety provisions installed by the local authorities. Colorful festivals and large gatherings may be out of the picture right now, but cliff jumping, gliding along pristine waters on a glass-bottom kayak, flying on a hydrobike, and sipping cocktails on private beaches is still very much allowed. Bermuda is eager and waiting to welcome tourists this summer. Here’s everything you need to know about planning your 2020 island getaway.
- Before you go and getting there
- COVID-19 safety measures on the island
- Where to stay
- How to enjoy Bermuda’s outdoors while social distancing
Before you go and getting there
Bermuda is taking COVID-19 safety measures very seriously, so be prepared to do some paperwork before pre-departure. The first step for all incoming travelers is to complete a travel authorization process online 48 hours prior to boarding. The form will assess health risks, collect contact information, and provide coverage for COVID-19 testing upon arrival. Each passenger needs to complete the $75 form, regardless of age. Then, up to 72 hours prior to departure, all adults and kids aged 10 and up are required to take a COVID-19 test and present a negative result in order to be allowed on the plane.
At the airport and in-flight, passengers are required to wear face coverings and observe social distancing strictly. Upon arrival, travelers will need to undergo a rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test again at the L.F. Wade International Airport. Before venturing out on the island it is required that all will need to self-isolate at accommodations until results are confirmed. It is suggested that this will take around eight hours or so.
COVID-19 safety measures on the island
Once in the clear, visitors need to continue wearing masks when using shared transport such as ferries, buses, and taxis. Packing a thermometer will come in handy because everyone will be required to report their temperature online twice per day. Additional COVID-19 testing will be enforced on days three, seven, and 14 of visitors’ stays. This can easily be done at one of the pop-up testing centers around the island. The Bermuda authorities have made sure that there isn’t an excessive wait time so that people can obtain those results without needing to budget in extra time that could otherwise be spent in a hammock drinking a cold piña colada. Finally, everyone needs to comply with the nightly curfew between the hours of midnight to 5:00 AM.
Where to stay
Bermuda’s hotels are being extremely cautious when it comes to ensuring guest safety. Only gatherings of 50 or less are allowed and physical distancing needs to be strictly adhered to. Hotels and resorts are opening in stages to make sure that there isn’t an overwhelming amount of tourists on the island after months of lockdown. That said, there are plenty of options to choose from, all unique and offering enough freedom for physical-distancing.
Bermuda’s Coral Beach Club is a collection of nine private cottages dispersed around lush gardens, 26 rooms, and five suites with incredible ocean views of the island’s south shore. If you opt to stay in a cottage, you’ll have your own fireplace, living room, and dining room. The rooms and suites are equally as charming, albeit slightly smaller. The Coral Beach Club offers dozens of activities to keep you entertained on your holiday. You can play squash, spend the day golfing, swim at the resort’s private beach, go snorkeling, play beach tennis, or take a yoga class, all within a safe distance from other guests.
At the Edgehill Manor, you’ll experience the local Bermudian hospitality at its most authentic. This private guest house lies minutes away from the city of Hamilton and combines charm and luxury at an affordable price. Each room at the Edgehill Manor has its private balcony, lots of space, and all guests are granted access to a private swimming pool tucked into a lush tropical garden. Social distancing doesn’t get much better than that.
The two two-bedroom Grape Bay Cottages are ideal if you’re looking to have a private beach all to yourself. Located in the heart of the Paget Parish, the cottages are nestled by the clean and spacious Grape Bay Beach. This is the ideal spot to vacation with family or a small group of friends. Both cottages have their own private kitchens, patios, air conditioning, a BBQ area, and lounge chairs so you feel right at home.
You can find information on which hotels are open and set to reopen soon here.
How to enjoy Bermuda’s outdoors while social distancing
Cliff jumping, paddle boarding, sailing, hiking, and more — Bermuda has plenty of outdoor adventures to choose from while observing a safe distance from others.
The island and its many lush, secluded trails are ideal for long bike rides. On the beach, hydrobikes — a hybrid between a catamaran and a bicycle — are a superb option to take you along turquoise waters. One of the most romantic outings to go on is a horseback ride along the Railway Trail National Park — an 18-mile path surrounded by crystal-clear waters and vegetation. Alternatively, the trial is great for hiking if you’d like to stretch your legs. You can also go sailing around Hamilton Harbor on the eastern end of Great Sound and soak up the never-ending blue skies.
Bermuda also offers some serious adrenaline sports. Admiralty House Park, former British naval grounds, have been transformed into an amazing place for solo rock climbing and deepwater diving. Another exciting area that carries the legacy of the British is the underwater caves nearby, carved out 200 years ago by the military. Make sure to talk to locals to get advice before venturing out.
The pandemic may have thwarted festival plans but Bermuda’s quintessentially gorgeous reefs still remain and are open to travelers. Diving and snorkeling in Bermuda is the best way to see spotted eagle rays up close. One key dive site is The Constellation — an underwater playground where the creator of Jaws got his inspiration for the iconic film. Bermuda’s famous shipwrecks serve as a window to the past and offer great diving opportunities. Some of the most popular sunken ships in Bermuda include the North Carolina (an English sailing ship), Taunton (a Danish cargo steamer), L’Herminie (a French warship), and more. You can also paddle across the island on a glass-bottom kayak that allows you to view local marine life without getting wet.
Heading northeast, the former US military and NASA premises of Cooper’s Island have been transformed into a 12-acre wildlife park that is open to the public and teeming with sea birds like heron and kingfishers, which are often seen flying among the cedar trees. Spittal Pond — the largest nature reserve on the island at 59 acres — is another great spot if you want to get a breath of fresh air and view the local birdlife.
The lush Bermuda Arboretum, a 22-acre national park located in the heart of the Devonshire Parish, is perfect for a long stroll. Here, you’ll see acacia and cedar trees, and sprawling meadows and woodlands. The area has designated picnic spots for rest and meditation among nature while socially distancing.
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