Pink houses along coast of Bermuda

Take in all the colors of Bermuda. (Photo: Getty Images)

Weekend Getaways

Discover Pink-Sand Beaches — and More — in Historic Bermuda on a Weekend Getaway

Bermuda, a 21-square-mile island just a three-hour flight from the mainland United States, is famous for its pink-sand beaches and eye-poppingly turquoise seas. And, sure, those sandy scenes (which get their color from crushed shells and coral) are awfully pretty — but this British island territory has much more to offer for those who are ready to get to know its history and culture.

This island has been continuously settled by the British since they first claimed it for the crown in the 17th century — and that influence is on display in the colonial-with-a-twist architecture and Caribbean-meets-English cuisine and culture. A number of waterfront forts speak to Bermuda’s military past, while nature reserves and underground cave tours give visitors a sense of the island’s natural history.

You’ll find high-end, fish-focused dining in spades, plus plenty of pub fare to scratch the Anglophile itch. Adventurous types can don a tank or two and slip beneath the waves for an up-close look at the many sunken ships that have succumbed to the mysterious forces of the Bermuda Triangle. (Spoiler: It’s mostly reefs, storms, or some combination of the two.)

Here’s how to spend three action-packed days exploring the island’s charms, both underwater and on land. And, hey — if you get there and decide to scrap it all in favor of those pink-sand beaches and picture-perfect seas, no one could blame you.

As always, make sure to check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Visit the Capital of Bermuda and Beyond

Hamilton is the central hub of any stop in Bermuda, with a storied history dating back more than 200 years. Kick off your trip with a “Bloody Caesar” and the signature chicken and waffles at Bermuda Bistro, then start your tour of this subtropical island by visiting Fort Hamilton, an 1870 fortification that will give you a perfect ocean view and lay of the land.

Colorful shop fronts in Bermuda
Enjoy an afternoon of shopping. (Photo: Getty Images)

Walk to downtown Hamilton and you’ll find high-end shopping and dining, especially along Front Street, the main thoroughfare in town.

This urban oasis is also the perfect spot to stop and snap some classic Bermudian scenes of the colonial buildings painted in pastel pinks, blues and yellows. With all the restaurants and shopping opportunities, it’s easy to lose your sense of time strolling along this energetic stretch.

Whatever your shopping trip holds, make sure it takes you to Della Valle Sandals, where Italian shoemaker Vincenzo Della Valle — who trained under sandal-making masters in his native Capri — will whip up a custom pair of kicks for you to wear beachside.

In the afternoon, hop on a ferry at the Hamilton Front Street Dock — in addition to the ferry system, Bermuda also has a great public bus system, so there’s no need to rent a car — and head out to the Royal Naval Dockyard to spend the rest of the day exploring the very tip of the island.

Seek out some shipwreck history at the National Museum of Bermuda, housed in the island’s largest fort, and fortify yourself with hearty English fare at the Frog & Onion Pub. Wash it all down with a sampler of six of the brewpub’s top beers.

With plenty of shopping — including lots of locally made crafts — and ship spotting on the dock, this little corner of the island is a perfect place to spend most of your afternoon, but if retail therapy isn’t cutting it, consider heading back to the National Museum of Bermuda to book a slot with Dolphin Quest Bermuda, which offers small groups the chance to interact and swim with these amazing, intelligent creatures.

Best of all, a portion of all proceeds supports marine education and conservation.

Back in Hamilton for dinner, snag a reservation at Mad Hatters, a local favorite featuring creative fare in a playful atmosphere — it gets its name from the array of hats diners are encouraged to wear during their meal. Wind down with a pint at the Hog Penny, a pub that dates back to 1963 and puts Bermuda’s British roots on full display.

Saturday: Sailing and Scuba Diving in Southampton

Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon
Fill up on a hearty breakfast. (Photo: Marriott International)

Breakfast today is at Devil’s Isle, a cafe with excellent coffee and a varity of sweet and savory dishes. Choose from classic egg preparations, including omelets and eggs Benedict, as well as breakfast salad, fruit and granola, French toast and more.

Some of the island’s most popular golf courses, boat tours, and diving centers are found in Southampton. With that in mind, spend this day checking off all the outdoor activities that make Bermuda the popular destination that it is.

Once in Southampton, charter a catamaran with Sail Bermuda for a snorkeling adventure, or get up close to the many shipwrecks and reefs in the waters around the island on a guided scuba diving trip with Dive Bermuda.

Before an afternoon on the sand, grab a table on the waterfront porch at Henry VIII Pub, where you can enjoy a burger, fried-fish sandwich or made-to-order sushi.

Afterward, make a beeline for the island’s most famous beach: Horseshoe Bay, where the shore glitters with Bermuda’s famous pink sand. Nearby coves and nature reserves are also worth a stop while you’re in the area — wander north through South Shore Park and set up your towels at whatever beach catches your eye. Later, climb the 185 steps leading to the top of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, built in 1846.

Back in Hamilton, snag a reservation at Harry’s for dinner. There’s pork chops, chicken and a catch of the day, but don’t overthink it — the combo of shrimp cocktail, wedge salad, and New York strip is called the “Classic Meal” for a reason. End the night on the second-floor balcony at the Terrace Bermuda, where you can order an icy “Mint Mule” or a mojito and enjoy sweeping views of Hamilton Harbor.

Sunday: Soak in the Beauty of Paget and More

Bartender making bloody Mary's at the St. Regis Bermuda Resort
Sip on a signature bloody mary at the St. Regis Bermuda Resort. (Photo: Marriott International)

Hit the snooze button before heading down for breakfast at the St. Regis. You can order à la carte or check out the resort’s breakfast buffet — and make sure to try the signature “Gates Bay Mary,” which features native fennel, rum, pepper sauce and a special Bermudian spice blend.

Just want a latte or a quick bite? Brew will set you up with strong coffee and a yogurt bowl, quiche or spicy egg sandwich with fried jalapeños and cheddar.

Spend the morning exploring the historic Town of St. George, which was settled in 1612 as the island territory’s first city and colonial capital. Start at Fort St. Catherine. Conveniently located near the St. Regis, it was built in 1612 and remains the island’s biggest military fortification.

You could also head straight downtown to King’s Square, which is lined with colonial-era buildings, including the Bermuda National Trust Museum and the 17th-century St. Peter’s Church, the oldest surviving Anglican church outside of the British Isles.

Another option would be to head north to hit one of the top attractions in Bermuda, Crystal & Fantasy Caves — you’ll arrive just in time to duck underground and dodge the midday heat. After spelunking down into the underground caverns (with an assist from your friendly neighborhood cave tour guide), grab some barbecue and a rum swizzle, the unofficial drink of Bermuda, at the Swizzle Inn.

A 20-minute drive south in Paget, you’ll find one of the most beautiful botanical gardens anywhere in the world, plus the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, where visitors can learn about Bermuda’s history and heritage through paintings and drawings dating from the early 1800s through the present.

Wrap up your tour by renting bikes from Oleander Cycles, then coasting along the Bermuda Railway Trail, which traces the shore and offers tranquil, winding cliffside views.

After heading back to the hotel to freshen up, toast the end of your trip with a laid-back dinner on the harborside deck at Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio Restaurant.

Start with the crispy conch fritters or the bacon-wrapped scallops, then try the local catch of the day, served with island-style rice and peas. Landlubbers can opt for Niman Ranch pork chops or a wagyu burger with fries. Cap dinner (and your Bermuda adventure) with a glass of Champagne and a slice of the bistro’s decadent triple-chocolate mousse cake.