Horseshoe Bay Beach

When I used to think of Bermuda I thought of the Beach Boys  song [written by Guest Author Bryan C.] and a mysterious triangle, but I really didn’t know much about the island itself. When we decided to take a Disney Cruise from New York to Bermuda, I was thrilled with the chance to learn the truth behind this often spoken of but still mysterious to me island. What was even more thrilling is that cruises often overnight in this port. For our adventure we’d have an overnight plus another day in Bermuda for a total of 3 days to explore the island, or so we thought. Weather would cause a change there but more on that later. Either way this was the beginning of our thoughts surrounding exploring Bermuda on our own.

Thus far in our cruising career we’ve generally stuck to Disney Port Adventures. In this case, though, only one really interested us. Initially the plan was 2 days exploring Bermuda on our own and an excursion the last day. However, a schedule change with that excursion led to us deciding to do it all on our own. 

Deciding what to do

How does one figure out what to do on an island? I started with trusty Google and soon found a wealth of travel information. Sites such as gotobermuda.com and bermuda4u.com were great places to get started. There were also various blog posts and YouTube videos and other sites that Google helped me find. When you are exploring a port on your own, one of the first things to consider is how you will get around. 

My own family totals 6 and we’d be traveling with my sister and her family of 4. Traveling with a larger group quickly makes taxis a complicated option. Fortunately Bermuda has a great public transit system with buses and ferries. For our pre-cruise time in New York we could rely on Google Maps to help us navigate public transit. Bermuda buses don’t run on tight schedules with specific times for each stop. So with no help from Google Maps I found old fashion bus and ferry schedules and maps online. While it couldn’t give me schedules I did still find myself spending a lot of time exploring the island virtually via Google Maps. It gave me a good sense for distances, potential points of interest and the layout of the island.

One consideration that one has to have when exploring a new place as part of a cruise is how to ensure you are back to the ship on time. Bermuda is a great place to explore on your own because of the frequent overnight port stop. For us we decided we’d do our more adventurous exploring on our first day when all aboard time wasn’t a concern. With the ship overnighting in port the worst thing that could happen would be missing dinner.

Seeing Saint George and the Crystal Caves

 

Towne Hall St George Bermuda

Two things drove our first day plans. The first was a desire to see Saint George, the oldest settlement in Bermuda and a UNESCO world heritage site. The second was a desire to see the famous Crystal Caves. Looking over the ferry schedule we determined we could get off the ship, have a bit of time to explore the port area, which offers a lot in Bermuda, and then ferry to Saint George for lunch. 

From Saint George it is a short bus ride to Crystal Caves with multiple bus routes passing the caves. The website for the caves indicated reservations were recommended. We had to make them by calling 2 weeks in advance. No deposit was required. We had to do a little guessing when picking our time to ensure we’d have time to do lunch, explore Saint George a bit and make it to the caves. Fortunately the bus schedule indicated estimated travel times to the caves and in the end it all worked out great. The caves really were an amazing sight to see.

 

After our underground exploration we ended our “Grand Circle Tour” of Bermuda by taking the bus to Hamilton. This gave us a chance to explore the capital city for a bit before taking a high speed ferry back to the ship. Looking over the options, a ferry from Hamilton was much faster than taking the bus all the way back. The one thing we learned was that the downtown area closed earlier than we expected. We arrived just before 5 and most places were closing up by 5:30/6:00. We definitely learned a few things exploring Bermuda on our own. 

Running the Bermuda Railway Trail

 

One thing that really interested me in my early Bermuda research was the Bermuda Railway Trail. What used to be a narrow gauge railway throughout the island has been turned into a trail system covering much of the island. As both a runner and a railroad enthusiast, it was something I really wanted to see. Disney offered a bike tour excursion on the trail but I’m really a runner and not a biker. With our overnight port stop I realized I could have the chance to do an early morning run before the day’s activities with my family.

 

This was a place where Google Maps was very helpful. The trail was marked and I was able to find the closest entry point to the port and map out a route. You can start the trail right behind the police station in the village of Somerset. While the distance from the port wasn’t too far for me to run the whole way, I checked out Google street view and saw narrow roads without sidewalks. It really wasn’t very runnable so I took the bus from the port to the trail. 

These views from my run!

The trail itself turned out to be paved and serves as an access road to many people’s homes. With much of the segment I visited walled on either side by jungle you still feel you are on a trail. There was a dirt portion that led up a hill through the jungle to Fort Scau, an old fort set up to overlook and defend that part of the island. My run also took me to see the world’s smallest drawbridge before I had to head back. I cannot recommend spending some time on the Bermuda Railway Trail enough! Whether you walk, bike or run it is an awesome way to experience Bermuda! 

After I returned we headed out to get some beach time. We couldn’t wait to see the famous pink sand beaches. As we were leaving we got a bit of a curve ball. The captain came over the announcements and informed us due to an approaching tropical storm we’d have to leave Bermuda that night and not return for our 3rd day. 

One of the realities of cruising is that plans can always change. The main issue for us was we had delayed making any souvenir purchases planning to do that on our last day. I’m glad we heard the announcement before we left for the beach because we adjusted our plans a bit.

Beach break at Horseshoe Bay Beach

Horseshoe Bay Beach

A trip to Bermuda isn’t a trip to Bermuda without a visit to one of their beautiful Beaches. In continuing on with our theme of doing Bermuda on our own, we took the public bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach. It drops you right off the main road and there is a bit of a walk down to the beach. It really wasn’t too bad walking down. Going up though would be a bit more effort. 

We loved the beach! I especially enjoyed walking down and around the rocks to the more secluded area which had some incredible views. Due to our itinerary change we decided to cut down on our travel time back. Rather than walking up and catching the public bus we took advantage of one of the continuously running beach shuttles. It cost a bit more but it saved some time.

One of the things I loved about doing Bermuda on our own was we generally had more than one transportation option. It is nice when you have options. While we were sad to cut our Bermuda time short we absolutely loved the time we had.  

Exploring Bermuda on your own is totally doable with a family

 

We highly recommend exploring Bermuda on your own. It’s completely doable and enjoyable with a family. It was such a great port to explore on our Disney Cruise.

 

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