Situated just 665 miles off the coast of North Carolina, Bermuda’s subtropical climate and breathtaking scenery make it a popular destination for vacationers from the East Coast. Cruises run throughout Bermuda’s tourist season (April until early November) from ports including Boston, New York, and Baltimore. If you’re planning a cruise to Bermuda and wondering about the best DIY Bermuda excursions, here are the best things to do in Bermuda on a cruise.
Discovered in 1505 by Spanish explorer Juan de Bermúdez, Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory and still retains much of its British heritage. The former colony’s residents are huge fans of cricket. Pubs serve classic favorites like a Ploughman’s Lunch and Cornish pasties. Even the famous Bermuda shorts (part of traditional formal dress on the islands) are derived from British military uniform.
But it’s not just beautiful views, warm weather, and a taste of the UK that bring so many visitors to Bermuda each year. At just over 20 square miles in area, Bermuda may be small but there are lots of amazing things to do in Bermuda on a cruise.
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1. Visit Royal Naval Dockyard
If your cruise ship berths at King’s Wharf or Heritage Wharf, your introduction to Bermuda will be the Royal Naval Dockyard – it’s right in front of the wharves! Located on the northwest tip of Bermuda on Ireland Island, the Dockyard currently has nine restaurants and food vendors and over 30 retail stores, along with various kiosks and attractions.
Construction began on The Royal Naval Dockyard in the early eighteenth century, and it was an active naval base until the 1950s. Although it wasn’t officially closed until 1995, plans were made in the 1980s to begin turning the area into a tourist destination.
Today, the stone naval buildings and the surrounding area have been transformed into a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, including the Clocktower Mall, the National Museum of Bermuda, Dolphin Quest, and Snorkel Park.
Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandy’s Parish, Bermuda. +1 (441) 234-1709
2. Go underground at Crystal Cave
Crystal Cave and its adjacent sister attraction, Fantasy Cave, are natural wonders that draw thousands of tourists each year. Formed over the last 30 million years, the ceilings of the caves are covered with clusters of spectacular stalactites made from calcite mineral deposits.
Crystal Cave was discovered in 1907 by two boys who lost their cricket ball down a hole. Crawling in to retrieve the ball, they found that the hole seemed to be much deeper than they expected. The property owners lowered their teenaged son into the hole with a bicycle light and a rope tied to a tree. He soon discovered a clear blue subterranean lake surrounded by crystal stalactites.
Be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes to avoid slipping and bring a jacket or sweater – the 50°F (10°C) temps in the caves can be chilly to visitors coming in from the summer sunshine!
Although a viewing platform has been built inside the caves, they are not accessible to those with mobility challenges. Due to the location deep underground, there are many sets of stairs throughout the attractions. Fantasy Cave is located deeper underground than Crystal Cave and has more stairs to climb.
Crystal and Fantasy Caves, 8 Crystal Caves Rd., Hamilton Parish, Bermuda. Open daily 9 AM – 5 PM. Guided Tours leave every 20 minutes (last tour 4:30 PM). Admission per cave: Adults: $24, children (age 12 and under): $10, children under 5 free. Combination tickets for both caves are available. +1 (441) 293-0640
3. Relax at Horseshoe Bay Beach
Located on the South Shore and easily accessible from King’s Wharf and Heritage Wharf by the inexpensive private mini-buses that run from the pier, Horseshoe Bay Beach makes for the perfect beach day.
Despite its long stretch of pristine pink sand and clear aqua surf, Horseshoe Bay Beach can get pretty crowded. If you’re looking for seclusion rather than masses of beachgoers, grab your water shoes and head all the way to the left after entering the beach. You’ll see some rocky outcroppings, but they’re easily passable (if a little slippery).
Keep walking, and you’ll find cove after secluded cove. Butts Beach, Middle Beach, Water Rocks Beach, and Angle Beach are all perfect spots to get away from the crowds, and the stunning rock formations surrounding them provide a dramatic backdrop for photos.
Horseshoe Bay Beach has public restrooms and changing facilities, a counter-service restaurant and outdoor bar featuring live entertainment, and free (but spotty) WiFi. Umbrella and lounger rentals are available for a fee. Lifeguards are on duty while the beach is open.
Horseshoe Bay Beach, South Rd., Southampton Parish, Bermuda. Open sunrise to sunset. Free.
4. Shop and dine in Hamilton
Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital since 1815, was officially incorporated in 1793 and named for Governor Henry Hamilton. With just over 1000 residents, Hamilton is one of the smallest world capitals. The city is primarily a business district, with office buildings, shops, and restaurants dominating the landscape.
Only smaller cruise ships dock at Hamilton’s cruise port today, but the city is an easy trip by ferry from the Dockyard. If you want to indulge in some luxury shopping and fine dining, be sure to visit Hamilton – just don’t do it on a Sunday or national holiday because the vast majority of shops will be closed.
Pick up Bermuda specialties and British imports at the boutiques and department stores on and around Front Street, Hamilton’s shopping district. Don’t forget, there’s no sales tax in Bermuda!
A.S. Cooper & Sons on Front Street is where you can find authentic Bermuda shorts in a variety of pastel shades. Alexandra Mosher‘s gorgeous studio showcases her unique sterling silver jewelry, inlaid with Bermuda’s famous pink sand. The English Sports Shop offers made-to-measure suits for men and women’s European fashions, along with a wide selection of casual resort wear.
After working up an appetite shopping and exploring, you’ll definitely be ready to eat! Top Hamilton restaurants include Harry’s at the Waterfront for steaks and views of the harbor, Ascot’s for local and international cuisine, and The Little Venice for elegant Italian. Be warned that Bermuda imports its food and beverages, so prices tend to be high compared to the mainland.
Tip: Consider booking a private Welcome Tour with a knowledgeable local guide for your first day in Bermuda.
5. Climb Gibbs Hill Lighthouse
Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, built in 1844 by the Royal Engineers, is one of the first lighthouses in the world to be constructed of cast iron. The taller of two lighthouses on Bermuda, Gibbs Hill’s light shines out at 354 feet above sea level. It’s visible to planes from over 100 miles away!
The lighthouse is open to the public, and you can climb its 185 steps to the top in eight flights. As it’s the tallest structure in Bermuda, the views from the top of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse can’t be beat.
The Dining Room, located in the former living quarters of the lighthouse attendant, is open daily for lunch and dinner. They offer breakfast on weekends.
Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Lighthouse Road, St Anne’s Rd, Cross Bay, Bermuda. Open Monday – Saturday 9.30 AM – 4.30 PM, Sundays and Holidays 10 AM – 4.30 PM. Closed to visitors each February. Admission: $2.50. +1 (441) 238-8069
6. Step back in time in St. George’s Town
Accessible from the Dockyard via ferry, St. George’s Town in the East End is Bermuda’s former capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area is full of British colonial architecture, history and culture.
Visiting St. George’s feels a bit like exiting a time machine. Picturesque limestone buildings line its cobblestone lanes and alleys. The Ducking Stool, a 17th- and 18th-century public punishment, sits in King’s Square. Nearby is a recreation of the Discovery, the ship that brought Bermuda’s settlers to Jamestown in the early 1600s.
Just outside of town are Fort St. Catherine, built in 1614, and Martello Tower, built in 1820. Great Head Battery and Park, on the eastern tip of Bermuda, was constructed in 1910 to defend the Narrows Channel.
7. Cliff jump in Tom Moore’s Jungle
Tom Moore’s Jungle, officially known as Walsingham Nature Reserve, was named after Thomas Moore, the Irish poet. Moore was appointed to a government post in Bermuda in 1803, but spent only three months there. Legend tells he would sit under a tree in the jungle to drink and write poetry. Despite his short stay in Bermuda, locals still refer to this lush forest as his.
Walsingham Nature Reserve is located in Hamilton Parish, about an hour’s drive from King’s Wharf. The reserve features coastal mangroves, native palmetto and cedars.
The main attractions are the reserve’s wet and dry caves and swimming grottos. Blue Hole Park, once the site of a dolphin show lagoon, is surrounded by 12- to 15-foot cliffs, perfect for jumping into the water below.
There is no fee to enter Tom Moore’s Jungle, but a local guide is recommended if you want to find and explore the caves. Some of the best parts of the reserve are not clearly marked.
Walsingham Nature Reserve, Blue Hole Hill, Hamilton Parish, Bermuda, free to enter
8. Learn about Bermuda’s history at National Museum of Bermuda
Located in the Royal Naval Dockyard, the National Museum of Bermuda is housed in historic military buildings of the 18th-century naval Keep Fort.
Exhibits will guide you through Bermuda’s history and culture, including its links with the West Indies and the Azores, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and its history of shipwrecks.
The museum is kid-friendly, featuring many interactive exhibits as well as a playground and playhouse. Dolphin shows at Dolphin Quest, located on site, are free with museum admission.
National Museum of Bermuda, 1 The Keep, Sandy’s Parish, Bermuda. Open every day (except Christmas Day) Mon-Fri 9 AM to 5 PM (last admission 4 PM). Weekends and holidays 9:30 AM to 5 PM (last admission 4 PM). Adults: $15, Seniors: $12, Children under 16: free. +1 (441) 234-1418
9. Get up close to wildlife at Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo
The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo is owned and operated by the government of Bermuda and its Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Founded in 1926, BAMZ is one of the world’s oldest aquariums. The seven-acre facility in Flatts Village is a science education center focusing on research and species conservation.
BAMZ Aquarium is home to more than 200 species of fish and marine invertebrates from Bermuda’s coastal waters, northern coral reefs, as well as from the deeper ocean.
Thriving live corals and predator species including sharks and black grouper are on display in the 140,000-gallon North Rock Exhibit.
The exhibits of marine turtles, some of which were rescued and rehabilitated after being injured, and the harbor seals are popular with aquarium visitors.
BAMZ Zoo, which focuses on conservation and environmental education, showcases over 300 birds, reptiles, and mammals native to oceanic islands around the world. Many of the animals have Species Survival Plans, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ captive-breeding program for endangered creatures.
The Bermuda Natural History Museum
The Bermuda Natural History Museum is located between the Aquarium and the Zoo. The Museum’s exhibits explain how Bermuda was formed, the habitats of its native species, as well as the impact of human habitation on a small island.
Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, 40 North Shore Rd., Flatts Village, Hamilton Parish, Bermuda. Open daily (except Christmas Day): 9 AM – 4 PM. Admission $10 adults, $5 seniors 65+, $5 children 5-12, under 5 free. +1 (441) 293-2727
10. Tour the Bermuda Perfumery
Located in the historic whitewashed Stewart Hall building in St. George’s, the Bermuda Perfumery is famous for the Lili Bermuda brand of perfumes. Perfumer Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone carries on the tradition of carefully handcrafting and bottling the scents in Bermuda, as they have been since 1928.
Take a complimentary tour of the Lili Bermuda Perfumery and sample their exclusive scents. Guides explain the techniques of perfume making and show you where and how they age and bottle their perfumes.
If you happen to visit Bermuda in the off season, the Bermuda Perfumery offers their Creating Scents Workshop on Tuesdays and Thursdays from November through March. Visitors can learn the art of perfumery and create a customized scent. Pre-registration is necessary and a $275 studio fee applies.
Bermuda Perfumery, Stewart Hall, 5 Queen St., St. George’s, Bermuda. Summer hours (April to October): Monday to Saturday 9 AM to 5 PM. Winter hours (November to March): Monday to Saturday 9 AM to 4 PM. Complimentary tours are held daily (except Sundays and public holidays) at 11 AM and 3 PM. No reservation required for tours. +1 (441) 293-0627
11. Bike the Bermuda Railway Trail
The Bermuda Railway Trail, used in the 1930s and 1940s by the Bermuda Railway, takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Bermuda. In 1964, Bermuda’s government transformed the track into 18 miles of scenic trails for walkers and cyclists, and it’s now a National Park.
The trail runs from Somerset, not far from the Dockyard, through Hamilton, then along the North Shore all the way to St. George’s on the eastern end of Bermuda.
Bikes are available to rent at the Dockyard at Oleander Cycles. Note that the entrance to the trail is a few miles away, just by the Somerset bus station. Alternatively, you can book a guided bike tour that departs from the Dockyard. Check pricing on a guided bike tour here, including bike rental and all necessary equipment.
12. Swim with dolphins at Dolphin Quest Bermuda
Offering a wide variety of dolphin encounters, Dolphin Quest Bermuda is located in the Royal Naval Dockyard within the National Museum of Bermuda.
From the $49 “Dolphin Moment” to the $3250 “Bermuda Marine Mammal Specialist for a Week”, Dolphin Quest lets you get up close to these amazing creatures.
For anyone whose dream is to swim with dolphins, programs range from $100-$265 per person. In-water experiences are available for ages three and up. Reservations are recommended.
Dolphin Quest Bermuda, 15 The Keep, Sandys, Bermuda (located in the National Museum of Bermuda in the Dockyard – Dolphin Quest program participants with pre-paid reservations receive free admission to the museum. Non-participants are required to pay the museum’s entrance fee.) Program hours vary. 1 (800) 248-3316
13. Tee off at Port Royal Golf Course
If you’re a golf aficionado, don’t miss the pristine and challenging Port Royal Golf Course with its stunning ocean views. Located on the shorefront of Southampton Parish, this Robert Trent Jones-designed 18-hole course is one of the most popular public golf courses in Bermuda. Host to the annual Bermuda Open, it’s even known as being one of Jack Nicklaus’ favorites!
Although the course is generally quite expensive, they offer a cruise ship special, currently $150 including the green fee, golf cart, clubs, six golf balls and golf shoes. You need to show your cruise card and ID to take advantage of the special.
This is not a course for beginners; its infamous 16th hole is perched atop a cliff and needs an almost perfect shot to reach the green. But if you’re a seasoned golfer, don’t pass up the chance to play Port Royal Golf Course.
Port Royal Golf Course, 5 Port Royal Golf Course, Southampton, Bermuda. Open year-round. +1 (441) 234-0974
14. Enjoy the beauty of Bermuda Botanical Gardens
Bermuda Botanical Gardens, located in Paget Parish, feature 36 acres of flowers, shrubs, and trees. Founded in 1898 to protect native Bermuda species like cedar and palmetto trees, the Botanical Gardens are just a short drive from downtown Hamilton.
Over the years, the park has added many other attractions, including a Japanese Zen garden and a sensory garden for people who are blind and others who benefit from having the opportunity to touch the displays. The maze gardens feature Tudor-style hedges, arranged in traditional patterns.
Also on the property is Camden, the official residence of Bermuda’s Premier (he doesn’t actually live there). A small art museum is also on site (an entrance fee applies) with a café serving breakfast and lunch. The museum and café are temporarily closed on Sundays.
Bermuda Botanical Gardens, 169 South Rd, Devonshire, Paget Parish, Bermuda. Open daily. Free to enter.
Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, open Monday – Saturday, 10 AM – 4 PM. General admission $10, kids under 12 free. +1 (441) 299-4000
15. Party on the beach at Snorkel Park
Just a short walk from King’s Wharf and Heritage Wharf (follow the green footsteps painted on the sidewalk), Snorkel Park includes a man-made beach.
By day, Snorkel Park Beach is a family-friendly spot, popular with snorkelers, kayakers, and sunbathers.
But after the sun goes down, the beach transforms into Club Aqua, with music and dancing into the wee hours. If your cruise ship’s nightclubs and bars close too early for your taste, head over to Snorkel Park, where the party doesn’t stop until 3 AM.
You can dance the night away under the stars with Bermuda’s best DJs and live bands. The kitchen is open late for hungry partiers.
Don’t want to stay up quite that late? Snorkel Park hosts bonfires on the beach on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 7:30 until 10:30 PM.
Club Aqua, Snorkel Park, 7 Maritime Lane, Dockyard, Sandy’s, Bermuda. 18+, smart dress code. Open most Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 10 PM – 3 AM. Dates may vary due to weather and cruise ship schedules. $10 cover charge. +1 (441) 234-6989
16. Hike and swim at Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve
On the southeastern tip of Bermuda, the 12-acre Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve features extensive walking trails and access to several public beaches including Clearwater Beach and Turtle Bay.
Cooper’s Island was a restricted area until it opened to the public in 1995. The reserve was previously occupied by the U.S. military and was later used as a NASA space tracking station. Today, it’s part of Bermuda’s national park system, and a perfect spot for hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and wildlife spotting.
One of the former radar towers has been re-purposed into an observation tower. Be sure to check out the displays inside its base and climb to the top for a beautiful view.
17. Take photos of the Unfinished Church
Located in St. George’s Town a quick walk from King’s Square, the Unfinished Church is a picturesque Gothic ruin. After St. Peter’s Church was badly damaged by a storm, Edinburgh architect William Hay was hired to design a replacement. Construction began in 1874, but the church was never finished.
Why was the Unfinished Church never completed? Some of the parishioners split off to form a new congregation. In 1884, a cathedral in Hamilton burned, so funds needed to be diverted from the project. By the 1890s, many felt strongly that St. Peter’s Church, built by the first settlers soon after their 1612 arrival, should be repaired. Construction on the unfinished church was abandoned, and heavy damage from a hurricane in 1924 sealed its fate.
Today, the site is managed by the Bermuda Trust and is a popular location for weddings. Due to concerns with its structural integrity, the inside isn’t currently open to visitors. However, it’s worth a brief stop (maybe on your way to Tobacco Bay?) to snap some gorgeous photos of this Gothic beauty.
Unfinished Church, Government Hill Rd., St. George’s Town, Bermuda. Free to visit.
18. Celebrate at Harbour Nights
As many Bermuda cruises include an overnight or two, midweek visitors to the island are in for a treat – the Harbour Nights festival in Hamilton takes place each Wednesday night during the summer.
Harbour Nights is the largest and longest-running street festival in Bermuda. Every Wednesday during high season, Front Street in Hamilton is closed to all vehicle traffic after sunset. Shops and restaurants remain open late, while music and lights brighten the street. Local artists and vendors decked out in colorful clothes set up to sell various arts and crafts as well as food.
A highlight of the event is the Gombey dancers, whose tradition is a mix of British, West African and indigenous cultures, performing in their brightly-colored costumes.
Harbour Nights, Front Street, Hamilton, Bermuda. Every Wednesday from late May until early September, 7 PM to 10 PM.
19. Try a Rum Swizzle at Swizzle Inn
If you’re a fan of rum cocktails, you’ve surely tried a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, a favorite Bermuda libation. But the Rum Swizzle is often referred to as Bermuda’s national drink.
With both Goslings Black Seal and Gold Seal Rums, triple sec, pineapple, orange, and lemon juices, Bermuda falernum and a few dashes of Angostura bitters, the Rum Swizzle packs quite a punch.
The best place to try one? The Swizzle Inn, of course! They’ve been making Rum Swizzles since they opened in 1932. The historic building dates to the 17th century and is furnished with rustic, no-frills décor. Be sure to sign your name on the wall before you leave!
The Swizzle Inn also has a pub menu featuring sandwiches, wings, pizza, and finger foods in addition to heartier entrées. Try the Wazoo burger, a Bermuda-favorite fish sandwich.
The menu includes dessert, but Bailey’s Bay Ice Cream Parlour is just across the street. With over thirty flavors of homemade ice cream from classic to (very) unusual, you’ll be sure to find one to suit your taste.
Swizzle Inn, 3 Blue Hole Hill, Bailey’s Bay, Hamilton Parish, Bermuda. +1 (441) 293-1854
20. Snorkel at Tobacco Bay Beach
Tobacco Bay Beach with its clear, shallow water is one of the best spots in Bermuda to snorkel. The bay received its unusual name in 1609 by survivors of the shipwrecked Sea Venture, after wild tobacco was found growing there.
Tobacco Bay’s limestone rock formations make it a haven for fish and other marine life. Snorkelers can spot blue parrotfish, grouper, sergeant majors, angelfish, and more! Snorkel equipment can be rented on the beach, but we prefer to bring our own.
Stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and floats are also available to rent, along with loungers and umbrellas. Bathroom and shower facilities are on site, and free WiFi is available.
Tobacco Bay Beach has a beachside restaurant and bar, offering burgers, hot dogs and wings along with cocktails, beer, and soda.
During high season, nighttime events including the Bonfire and Bohemia beach party, are held after sunset. Check the Tobacco Bay events calendar for dates and details.
Tobacco Bay Beach, 9 Coots Pond Rd., St. George’s, Bermuda. Open every day 10 AM to 5 PM.
21. Explore a shipwreck
Whether or not you believe in the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, the waters around Bermuda certainly are the resting place for a large number of doomed ships. More than 300 shipwrecks lie in the waters surrounding Bermuda, with 20 of them close to the shoreline.
You can explore some of these shipwrecks while visiting Bermuda on a SCUBA dive or even just with a snorkel set! Most are only accessible by boat. However, the wreck of the Pollockshields is close enough to Elbow Beach in Paget Parish that it can be reached from the shore by a strong swimmer. Be warned that the waters can be rough. Ammunition that was loaded on the British ship when it hit a coral reef during a hurricane in 1915 litters the sea floor.
If you’re looking for a safer way to explore a shipwreck off Bermuda, a snorkeling tour by boat with an experienced guide is the way to go! The Constellation and Montana shipwrecks are very popular snorkeling sites. The two wrecks are close to each other and are also home to abundant coral and fish species.
The Montana was a Civil War blockade runner that made numerous trips between England, Bermuda and North Carolina. The 236-foot paddlewheel steamer hit the reefs during a winter storm in 1863 and sank in shallow waters. Its wreckage lies in a sandy valley surrounded by coral. Most of its bow is intact and encrusted with coral.
Check out the short video below to see what the wreck of the Montana looks like now.
The four-masted schooner Constellation was a 192-foot-long wooden-hulled cargo vessel. Bound for New York from Venezuela in 1943, the ship began to take on water close to Bermuda. The unlucky ship hit the same reef as the Montana (or possibly the Montana herself!) as it approached Bermuda for repairs. Its cargo, including building materials, ampules of morphine, and 700 cases of Scotch lay scattered on the sea floor.
Your cruise line will likely offer a shipwreck snorkeling tour, but booking one outside of the cruise line will often save you quite a bit of money. Check the price on a snorkeling tour of Montana and Constellation here.
Have you visited Bermuda? What was your favorite part of your trip? Let us know in the comments below!
Wondering what you need to take with you on your cruise to Bermuda? Read The 19 Best Cruise Accessories You Need to Pack
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