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Bermuda Essentials

deliverance bermuda st george georges ordnance island Steps away from King's Square in St. George's is Deliverance (Ordnance Island, 441-297-1459). Head over a small bridge to see a full-scale South American pine, teak and Bermuda cedar replica of the small sailing ship the shipwrecked survivors of the Sea Venture built in 1610 to carry them on to Virginia (the original was probably Irish oak). There's a self-guided tour through the ship.

Originally built in 1613, Fort St. Catherine (Coot Pond Road, St. George's, 441-297-1920) is probably the most impressive fort on the island, though the original towers have been rebuilt. You'll see a series of dioramas in its museum -- as well as an excellent exhibit of swords, muskets and pistols. You'll also see replicas of England's crown jewels.

Once the home of the well-known Tucker family of England, Bermuda and Virginia, the Tucker House Museum (Water Street, St. George's, 441-297-0545) displays a notable collection of Bermudian furniture, portraits and silver. You can also see where Joseph Hayne Rainey (a black refugee of the Civil War who worked as a barber before going on to become the first black representative in the U.S. Congress) is said to have set up shop.

You'll ooh and ahh at what's lurking 80 feet under the ground at Crystal Caves (Bailey's Bay, 441-293-0640) -- the highest concentration of limestone caves in the world. Discovered in 1905 by two kids playing cricket, the caves are named for the incredibly clear water inside the caves -- so clear that it's possible to see the bottom through 50-plus feet of water. Definitely cross the crystal-clear Cahow Lake via the somewhat submerged pontoon bridge to look down into a fairyland of caves. Guided tours every 30 minutes (you'll finally learn the difference between stalactites and stalagmites!).

You can't come to Bermuda without spending a few days at the beach. One of the most popular stretches of sand is Horseshoe Bay Beach (Southampton), a hot social spot with clear water and pink sand. The calm waters of Mangrove Bay (North Shore), near Somerset Village, are perfect for kids and non-swimmers. This is also a favored spot for landscape artists. Beware: There are no changing rooms or restrooms. For great snorkeling, head to Tobacco Bay (St. George's), where you could catch a glimpse of families of squid or even octopus.

Where to Eat
With eateries ranging from elegant and expensive to casual and cheap, dining out in Bermuda is as much an activity as beach-bumming or duty-free shopping. Look for traditional dishes like fish chowder laced with black rum and hot peppers, hashed shark, and conch anything -- and definitely order anything made with their fabulous Bermuda onions.

The Carriage House (Water Street, St. George's, 441-297-1270) is expensive but worth it. They carve the rack of English spring lamb tableside. Their signature Bermuda Triangle -- filet mignon, shrimp and chicken breast -- is a top choice.

At Fresco's (Chancery Lane, Hamilton, 441-295-5058), you'll think you've somehow been transported to Morocco. The award-winning Mediterranean cuisine may be accompanied by any of over 160 different wines from around the world. Take a chair or a cushion and dig in.

At The Lobster Pot (Bermudiana Road, Hamilton, 441-292-6898), the fish chowder is so good that tourists haul quartfuls back home -- but you can't go wrong with any of the delicious seafood choices on the menu.

At the Frog & Onion (Royal Naval Dockyard, 441-232-0571), you'll find bangers and mash and plenty of Guinness. Come midday for a casual lunch or in the evening for a candlelight dinner.

The Newport Room (in the Fairmont Southampton Hotel, Shore Road, Hamilton, 866-540-4497) is formal and fabulous. Hope that the duck breast with a cinnamon and fig sauce is on the menu the day you show up.

Hog Penny (Burnaby Hill, Hamilton, 441-292-2534) is the pub of choice in Hamilton for conch chowder or bangers and mash. This friendly Bermuda institution, which has been in business since 1957, was the original inspiration for the "Cheers" pub in Boston.

pompano beach club bermudaWhere to Stay
Lodging in Bermuda is notoriously expensive, with many hotels and beach resorts charging $500 a night or more. Small guesthouses and bed and breakfasts tend to be a better bet for budget travelers. Cottage-style accommodations offer privacy and often amenities (such as tennis courts and swimming pools) as well.

The upscale Pompano Beach Club (Pompano Beach Road, Southampton, 441-234-0222) enjoys a dramatic cliffside location on Bermuda's southwest coast. The resort has a private beach with soft pink sand and a coral reef for snorkeling, and the Port Royal Golf Course is right next door.

The Royal Palms Hotel (Rosemont Avenue, Pembroke, 800-678-0783) offers 32 airy, personalized rooms within walking distance of downtown Hamilton. This boutique property is one of Bermuda's most popular small hotels.

The St. George's Club (Rose Hill, St. George's, 441-297-1200) is a collection of 71 one- and two-bedroom cottages, offering a good value for families or other larger groups. On site are tennis courts, restaurants, several pools and a Clubhouse. A shuttle takes guests to the nearby beach.

Located in a converted historic stone building, the affordable Kingston House Bed and Breakfast (Turnstile Lane, Hamilton, 441-295-6597) combines island charm with modern conveniences like high-speed wireless Internet. A bountiful breakfast is served each morning on the outdoor patio (weather permitting).

The historic main building of the Fourways Inn (Middle Road, Paget, 800-962-7654) dates back to 1727. Today the property offers a number of romantic private cottages situated in a lovely garden, and its restaurant is one of the best in Bermuda.

Where to Shop
Bermuda offers its best deals on U.K. imports, such as nice cashmere sweaters and Harris tweeds. You're shopping duty-free, so that means prices run at least 20 percent less than in the U.S. You might get closer to a 40 percent range at some places, but trust us -- prices aren't as good as they once were.

Other souvenirs? You can pick up some ginger beer (it's an acquired taste) and Gosling's rum to make a Dark 'n' Stormy back home -- and don't forget the Bermuda shorts.

The Royal Naval Dockyard's Clocktower Mall boasts two 100-foot towers at either end. Inside is some of Bermuda's best duty-free shopping, as well as a number of boutiques and specialty shops.

Visit Hamilton's Front Street for good deals on British imports such as silverware, porcelain, crystal, and clothing made from cashmere or tweed.

In the historic city of St. George, many of the best stores are clustered around King's Square.

Somerset Village is a postcard-pretty town that might look familiar. It was featured in the 1962 film "A Touch of Mink," with Cary Grant and Doris Day. Enjoy the short walk to Mangrove Bay from here. If you missed shopping at the Dockyards, there are a few Front Street outposts here.

--written by Jana Jones

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