During our Bermuda cruise, an absolute must-see for me was one of the beautiful pink sand beaches that Bermuda is famous for. I had heard that of all Bermuda’s beaches, Horseshoe Bay Beach is the most beautiful (Condé Nast Traveler consistently ranks it in the top 20 most beautiful beaches in the world).
Snorkel Beach, the closest beach to where our ship was docked, was only a five-minute walk. But Snorkel Beach is a man-made beach, so there’s no pink sand. We only had one day set aside to be beach bums, and I wanted my pink sand!
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How to get to Horseshoe Bay Beach
Horseshoe Bay is located in Southampton in the southwest of the main island. My plan was to take the public bus #7 from King’s Wharf/Heritage Wharf (next to the Royal Naval Dockyard) to the beach. Taxis in Bermuda are pretty expensive. Plus it was Heroes Day, a public holiday, so there was an extra surcharge for all taxi fares.
However, our shopping guide on the ship advised us not to take the public bus because it makes too many stops. It would take forever to get there. No one seemed to know if the buses were operating on a limited schedule (if at all) for the holiday. So we left the ship at 9 am, after grabbing coffee and bananas from the buffet, to catch our taxi.
There were a few taxis out on the pier, but we also saw mini-buses. I heard a few members of the crowd talking about Horseshoe Beach and then getting on the buses, so I asked one of the bus company employees how much the fare was. Seven dollars each way! Yippee! Much cheaper than a taxi would have been for a 25-minute ride! We climbed on with our beach bags. Although the bus was getting full, we were able to get seats up front. Our seats were just behind the driver, and I recommend that you try to sit in front as well.
Taking a mini-bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach
These mini-buses are the type with jump seats that fold down across the aisle to
ensure everyone’s squashed in like sardines maximize the number of passengers. The driver waits until the bus is full before they can leave, so there are no set schedules that the buses adhere to. If you get on a bus that’s nearly empty, it might take a while. If you get on an almost-full bus, you might be sitting on a jump seat, but you know you’ll be leaving soon.
As we set off to our destination, our driver launched into a narration of the places we were passing and the history and culture of the area. He didn’t have a microphone, and although he tried to speak loudly, I’m sure no one in the back of the bus could hear. That’s why I’m glad we picked seats up front!
Our driver had obviously memorized what he was saying word-for-word. Several times, a passenger tried to ask him a question. He would pause, ignore them, repeat his last sentence verbatim and just keep going. This was fine with me. This was a $7 bus ride, not a pricey shore excursion. I was thrilled that he was able to give us so much information, all while navigating the bus through the narrow streets!
We learn some interesting facts about Bermuda
One fact he shared that astonished me was that the average cost of a home in Bermuda is over 1.5 million dollars. The Bermuda dollar is tied to the US dollar, so this is not a case of apples and oranges with the currency. As we passed a development of multi-family homes, he said, “Here on our right is some government housing. You might call this ‘a project’. These homes start at $450,000.”
Mind blown. He explained that many people in Bermuda have to work multiple jobs just to afford housing.
He told us about the social culture, explaining that young Bermudians are raised to view all people as equals. Regardless of race or economic status, young people are expected to greet everyone they meet and to treat everyone with respect.
Our driver also told us all about the different plants that grow on the island, and what natural remedies Bermudians use them for. It was really fascinating! For example, they traditionally place the leaves of the match-me-if-you-can plant on the bottom of the feet to reduce fever. He said it really works, and people still use and swear by this treatment.
At Horseshoe Bay Beach
We arrived at Horseshoe Bay Beach, and our driver dropped us off just a few steps from the entrance. We gave him a bit of an extra tip because the information he shared with us was so unexpected and thorough.
As we walked toward the beach, we passed a restroom and changing area, a restaurant with a small gift shop attached, and a beach bar. There was a small sandy cove just after the beach bar on the right, which I later found out is known as Baby Beach.
Our friends who were cruising with us had mentioned that they had heard to go left, so we went left, to the main part of the beach.
Is Horseshoe Bay Beach free?
There is no charge to enter the beach, but if you want to rent loungers or umbrellas there is a stand on the left just as you enter the beach. It was super hot and sunny (and we are very pale people), so we decided to get the package of two loungers and an umbrella for $40. It was a little bit of a splurge, as we usually go to the beach with just towels. But, we had saved the money we were going to spend on the taxi. Wait, we were originally going by public bus. See? This is how I talk myself into things.
A young man quickly picked up the two loungers and a large umbrella, and asked us where we would like to have them set up. He followed us halfway down the beach to the spot I indicated. I chose to be next to a small section of beach close to the shore that was cordoned off. We later found out that this closed area was used by the lifeguards. This beach is pretty long, and I had a feeling it would get packed as the day wore on. I wanted to locate our site next to a landmark so I wouldn’t have trouble finding it.
He inserted the umbrella deep in the sand using an
It’s not very pink, is it?
As I surveyed the scene, I had a realization. The famous pink sand was not really all that pink. I mean, I wasn’t expecting it to look like powdered pink lemonade mix, but it was much less pink than I had imagined. Try googling “Instagram pink beach Bermuda”. Not even close. There’s some sneaky filter magic going on with those photos.
In real life, the regular sand is speckled with dots of pink, from the pulverized shells of foraminifera, a tiny marine creature that inhabits the coral reefs offshore. But it’s just barely tinged with pink. The water was, however, the most amazing shade of gorgeous aqua.
Ahh…relaxation time on the beach.
I was planning to snorkel, but I checked the water and it felt a little chilly. I decided to relax in my little shady spot and read my book. Mr. SBC decided he was going to go for a walk and check out the rest of the beach. As we were situated about halfway down the beach already, I thought he’d be back in about 15 minutes. Forty-five minutes passed, and I spotted him ambling back toward our camp.
“There you are!” I said, “I was starting to get a little worried. Did you go swimming?” I joked. Mr. SBC loves the beach, but he’s not known for being a big swimmer.
“Ha! No,” he replied. “I was exploring the other beaches!”
“Other beaches? What other beaches?” I questioned.
He pointed back to where he had been. “See those rock formations down there? You can climb through them to another beach. Then there’s beach after beach after beach. You just have to climb over some rocky parts to get to the next one.”
This sounded intriguing, but first I wanted to just relax for a bit on my shady lounger and rest my eyes. I am famous for “resting my eyes”. It never works out well. I woke up an hour and a half later, and my legs felt a bit toasty from the knees down. I was wearing sunscreen, but the sun had moved a bit across the sky and part of my shady spot had become not quite so shady. It didn’t look so bad. Yet.
Getting hungry. Time for the Rum Bum Beach Bar!
We decided to have lunch right at noon, since we hadn’t eaten much for breakfast. We made our way back up to the entrance of the beach to check out the little restaurant at the Rum Bum Beach Bar. They have a basic menu that features burgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken or fish, along with french fries and onion rings. You could order a combo platter or à la carte.
We each got cheeseburger meals with fries and a bottle of water (you could also substitute soda) for $14 each. It was counter service, and our orders came up quickly. The young woman who was busily handing out the customers’ orders also took the time to greet each group and ask how they were enjoying the beach. People in Bermuda are super friendly.
We took our tray next door to the beach bar area, where there were several tables set up outside. We each got a $10 Rum Swizzle from the bar and sat down to enjoy our meal. The burgers were pretty good, not amazing, but they hit the spot. Our drinks were perfect, not too weak and not too strong, and they serve them in a 16 oz. cup without a straw for environmental reasons. They had a sign up with the popular hashtag #pleasedontsuck. Bring your reusable straw if you want or need one. I like to carry some of these straws with me because I hate smacking myself in the nose with ice cubes trying to get the last drop. Hey, I paid for it, I should be able to finish it.
As we were finishing up our meals, a performer came out to play the steel drum. Mr. SBC is not a fan of steel drum music, but I like it, so we sat for just a few minutes to watch and listen. A few minutes was all I could take. I felt bad for the guy because we could tell he was trying hard, but he was just awful. It sounded like he kept hitting the wrong notes. Or he was trying some experimental avant-garde jazz? Maybe he was just filling in that day.
Don’t expect good WiFi on Horseshoe Bay Beach
Before heading back down to the beach, I wanted to check if I could connect to the wifi. The young man who delivered our chairs had told us there was free wifi by the restrooms, but it didn’t always work so well. I normally don’t worry too much about staying connected on vacation. But my daughter, who was home pet sitting, had texted me earlier to say that one of our pets was ill. I had replied with instructions while we were in a wifi zone at the pier, and was curious to see if she had any updates.
I was able to log on to the free wifi, but the signal was too weak. Walking all around the area, I couldn’t get a stronger signal. I gave up, and we walked back down to our chairs. It was about 12:30, and we noticed that the beach was really filling up. I was glad that we had set up next to a landmark. Otherwise, it would have been very difficult to find our chairs in the sea of umbrellas!
Mr. SBC mentioned that there was a paid wifi hotspot called Bluewave, and that it had hourly and daily rates. I tried to sign up for it, but I couldn’t get it to take my credit card. He tried, and it seemed to accept his card, but the wifi didn’t work. I tried with a different card, and I couldn’t tell if it logged me in, but I couldn’t get a signal. Still worried, I decided we had to give up and just hope that our pet was OK.
Horseshoe Bay’s secret beaches!
I was all done with my relaxing, and decided that I wanted to go explore the other beaches. Mr. SBC mentioned that I might want to bring my water shoes, but I really felt like walking barefoot and carrying my flip-flops. We set off toward the rocks at the end of the beach. As we got closer, we saw people climbing up the craggy walls, and others were scaling some huge offshore rocks to jump off into the waves.
As we made our way through the rock formations to the next beach, I saw what he meant about the water shoes. There are a few sharp edges, and areas where you have to walk through small pools in the rock with potentially sharp things in them. I was fine, but if you have sensitive feet, bring some water shoes.
We passed through the first of the rocky areas and entered into a beautiful small cove. We continued to walk east, and kept going. Progressing through similar jagged passages, we continued to find secluded small beaches. As we explored, we noticed that at the top of each beach, there was a path going north up the hill. After we hit the fourth or fifth beach, we decided to see where those paths led.
We found that there was a main path running parallel to the shore that connected to each of the beaches. This could be a good way for someone who doesn’t want to (or can’t) traverse the rocky bits to explore these pretty little coves. We wanted to go back the way we came and take more pictures, so we didn’t try taking the path back to the main beach.
A quick dip, and a cosmetic realization
Back at our home base, I decided to try the water again. It seemed much warmer now, but it was super crowded. Probably not the best for snorkeling, but I did take a refreshing dip. Back on my lounger, I toweled off and noticed the strangest thing. My feet were completely smooth like a baby’s.
I get regular pedicures and try to use a pumice stone once a week, so my feet were in decent shape to begin with. I walk barefoot on beaches all of the time, but I’ve never seen anything like this. Every hint of a callus was just gone. Free beauty treatment! The next day on our shore excursion, our guide told us that Bermudians use the sand as a natural exfoliant.
The masses arrive
By around 2:30, we noticed a horde of people descending on the already crowded beach. Another ship had come into port, and I think every last passenger decided it was a beach day.
Later on, I was chatting with another passenger on our ship, and she said that she had gone to the beach after lunch on our first day in port, which is really a half day. By the time they got there, they only had a short time at the beach because the last mini-buses back to the ship departed at 5:30 PM. If you plan to stay late at the beach, be sure to confirm with your driver how late the buses will be running.
If you’re visiting Horseshoe Bay Beach for just a couple of hours, I would advise going early rather than late. The beach gets incredibly crowded, especially if there are two ships in port that day.
We call it a day
We decided to head back to the ship at 4:30. I offered the use of our loungers to our neighbors, who were relaxing on towels next to us. (After we got back home from our vacation, I noticed that a few sources online say visitors who rent chairs or loungers must pay a security deposit. They get this deposit back when they return the rented items.
Nowhere at the rental stand did I see a sign indicating this. The man who installed our umbrella said nothing about it. We also didn’t pay a deposit. I’m pretty certain that the deposit policy must have changed. If I’m wrong, please let me know in the comments below.)
Back where we were dropped off in the morning, there were several mini-buses waiting to take us back to our ship. The wait was not too long once we boarded, since there were lots of people leaving at the same time. Our new bus driver didn’t narrate our trip back. Maybe they only do it on the way to the beach? Or possibly our first driver took it upon himself to educate the tourists about his beautiful country.
Once we were back at King’s Wharf, I was able to connect to the free Bermuda wifi, and received the update from my daughter. All seemed to be well at home. I glanced down at my shins, only to notice they were turning an alarming shade of pink. Much pinker than the sand at the beach…
Have you been to Horseshoe Bay Beach in Bermuda? Are you considering a visit? Let me know in the comments below!
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