Bermuda Short

This historic island is still something special.


There really is no other place like Bermuda. Though it is unduly famous for its shorts, there are many, many other things to recommend this subtropical British Overseas Territory, about 635 miles off the shore of North Carolina-for instance, location: If you're making an Atlantic crossing, you're going to be mighty happy to see Bermuda, particularly if you're westbound. Bermuda has been an important waypoint for mariners since Juan de Bermudez made his second trip to the island in 1514 with a cargo of hogs, left specifically for provisioning mariners.

But don't make the mistake of tying up just long enough to restock the larders. Bermuda deserves at least a week of exploration. There are some wonderful beaches, of course-and a few of them are even pink-but you'll also want to explore the great historical landmarks of Bermuda.

Take the ferry from Hamilton and visit the Royal Naval Dockyards on the West End. In 1809, the English crown put thousands of convicts and slaves to work constructing docks to replace the many ports they'd lost after the American Revolution. By the 1950s, these massive limestone buildings had fallen into disrepair. Renovated in the 1980s, they are now Bermuda's largest tourist attraction. The Royal Naval Dockyards are full of shops and places to eat, so you can intersperse your cultural ramblings with shopping and dining. Be sure to visit the Bermuda Maritime Museum, which contains old boats, uniforms, cannons, and the preserved artifacts of Spanish, Portuguese, British, and slave histories on the island. The fortress and Commissioner's House are two places that are so atmospheric they feel almost haunted by history.

You'll also want to check out St. George, a village that's a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Its narrow streets meander past ancient cottages, most of which feature the famous, stepped Bermuda roof. Four-sided and terraced to funnel rainwater to underground cisterns, you'll see these roofs on every kind of home-from humble to grand. Bermuda is made largely of limestone and sand, and surrounded as it is by the Atlantic, the islanders take every measure to avoid the old "water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink" scenario.

Bermuda's location is also reflected in its cuisine. Though much is flown into the island, fish-which is the island's main foodstuff and the centerpiece of every menu-is about as local as you can get: Tuna, rockfish, mahimahi, and wahoo are favorites. For the ultimate in local specialties, try the Bermuda fish chowder with sherry pepper sauce and a shot of local dark rum. British food is, naturally, still very popular on the island, and there are plenty of pubs where you can get your fill of those oddly comforting English specialties like bangers and mash.

In short (get it?), Bermuda is much more than a waypoint en route to somewhere else. Whether you're making a transatlantic passage or hopping aboard a short flight to get there, go soon-and stay awhile.