It took us five days to sail from USA to Bermuda, St George’s Harbour. The inlet welcomed us in with beautiful calm turquoise water. After sailing to Bermuda it was fantastic to sightsee all around Bermuda – especially St George’s Island.
There was a massive reward for the unfortunate seasickness I endured on the trip over. I know that readers often question why I live through seasickness time and time again but the rewards are worth it.
The reward of seeing new lands and exploring the unknown is so exciting. I just love walking on a trail with a bend ahead and then I love turning on the bend to see the next view (and then repeat). And I absolutely love beautiful views! Views of the sea, beautiful tall majestic trees, white fluffy cloudy skies and everything in between.
During our month-long stay in Bermuda we anchored mostly in St George’s harbour. Here’s a breakdown with some practicalities for sailors, tips to help you better enjoy your stay and the seven best things to do while anchored in Bermuda St George’s.
1. Enjoy the anchorage in Bermuda St George’s
In Bermuda there’s a wide variety of anchorages but, by far, St George’s is the all-around best. The holding is good. There views are fantastic and beautiful island smells waft through the air including the smell of lavender, jasmine, passionflower and frangipani.
There’s an abundance of room to anchor – the bay is huge and can accommodate hundreds of boats. The water is clean, warm and offers a refreshing swim from the back of the boat. Aside from a fast ferry, an infrequent small cruise ship and/or small tanker, the bulk of marine traffic is from a pilot boat and other local and foreign private boat owners. A dinghy ride around the area provides hours worth of exploring, snorkeling and sightseeing by water.
Before arriving contact Bermuda Radio on Channel 27 in advance.
We called around six hours before entering St George’s harbor to notify Bermuda Radio that we were in Bermudian waters. And once we got closer to the entrance channel we radioed again seeking clearance to navigate the very narrow channel into the harbor.
While entering we raised our yellow q-flag (stands for quarantine – I think?!) on the port or left side spreader. On the right we had the Bermudian curtesy flag.
To clear Customs, all boats are required to dock at Customs & Immigration in St George’s Harbor. There’s quite a bit of space but it does get busy. We tied onto the dock and all passengers entered the Customs building, passports in hand, to do the paperwork. Aside from passports, we needed to show boat proof of ownership and boat insurance. The process is easier if using the SailClear, and online system. On this occasion we did not use it (we forgot). After clearing Customs, we anchored and jumped in for a swim!
Once on land there’s everything a sailor could ask for…
…ATM’s, free WIFI, trash receptacles, a small but well stocked food store, a variety of restaurants/bars and loads of sightseeing options. The airport is only ten minutes away by bus making this anchorage great for crew and guest drop off’s and/or pick-up’s.
There are several bus stops and bus tokens can be purchased from the Visitor’s Center, in the square, and most of the shops in the area.
Within the harbor there’s access to fuel and water at dockside. Duty Free fuel can be obtained in St Georges but it needs to be a minimum of 950 liters and is delivered to the boat by truck at the fuel station. Every vessel is granted a certificate that allows for one free Duty Free fuel purchase. Note that if you need less than 950 liters of Duty Free fuel it can be obtained at the Naval Dockyard through the fuel pump.
WIFI can be obtained from the boat when anchoring in Convicts Bay. There is a fee for the WIFI but I can verify that it was good quality. Log onto Ocean Sails WIFI (it will appear in your WIFI selection area) and a page will open up displaying the options. There’s a 1-day, 3-day and weeklong option ($35 for the week per user).
To watch read what what it’s like to be anchored on a boat rather than sightseeing, check out Sailing around Bermuda – Life At Anchor. There’s also a video too!
TIP: If you’re not in need of WIFI from Convicts Bay, I’d suggest you anchor further out into the bay. We spent a week in the middle of the bay and a week closer to land to get WIFI. While closer to land we found an increase of cockroaches landing on the deck of our boat.
2. Stroll around the streets of St Georges, Bermuda visiting museums, churches and parks
Are you a history buff?! Do you enjoy museums? Days, not hours, can be spent strolling along the narrow labyrinth styled alleys of St Georges. In 2000, the town was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town, and Bermuda itself, was discovered in 1609 when the English flagship, Sea Venture, got lost and blown ashore.
The ship was bound for Virginia with provisions for new settlers but was blown off course and destroyed when it hit Bermuda. The passengers survived the wreckage, settled in St Georges for several months and eventually remade two ships to provision and sail onward to America. The Deliverance was called the ship that saved America. By the time the Deliverance and the other ship made it to Jamestown the colonial inhabitants were near starving. The ships were stocked with meat, vegetables and fruit from Bermuda – surely an amazing sight to behold.
Amongst many excellent museums in the town there’s also a replica of the Deliverance that you can visit.
Some of the museums to check out include the Bermuda National Trust Museum at the Globe Hotel – you’ll find the interesting part that Bermuda played in America’s Civil War. There’s the Town Hall that has open doors when not in session. You’ll also find the Bermudian Heritage Museum, the St. George’s Historical Society Museum, Printery & Garden, the Tucker House, a replica of a prominent merchant’s home and there’s also the World Heritage Centre.
In between all the museums, you’ll find several churches. One of them being the oldest continuously operating Anglican Church in the Western Hemisphere. St Peter’s, Their Majesties Chappell, dates back to 1620! And the unfinished Church is my favorite – it looks like an old English ruin.
And the Somers Gardens are well worth a visit. Rumor has it that the British admiral charged with developing the Bermudian colony has his heart buried in the park! There’s a tomb to check out in addition to beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers.
If you want to take home the amazing bouquet of Bermudian floral smells, make sure to also stop at the Bermuda Perfumery. The perfumery still makes and bottles all its’ inland inspired scents on-site using more than 3,000 essential oils extracted from frangipani, jasmine, oleander, and passionflower. A bottle of perfume would make a fantastic gift for someone too (HINT, HINT Simon!)
3. Watch the 12:30pm public punishment sessions in the King’s Square.
During the summer months, there’s a performance put on that is highly entertaining. A woman is sentenced with nagging her husband. Her penalty is to be dunked into the water several times. Additionally, an audience member is picked from the crowd for public drunkenness and sentenced to standing at the whipping post in the hot sun. The drunk cannot leave the post until the sun is covered by cloud three times.
If you time your clearing at Customs correctly, you can book into Bermuda and watch the performance. The Customs & Immigration building, on Ordinance Island, is next to the King’s square.
4. Walk just outside the Town of St. George’s to find AMAZING SIGHTS
Within a mile’s walk, you can enjoy snorkeling at Tobacco Bay or Achilles Bay. Both provide clear water, beautiful rock formations and coral reef housing puffer fish, squid, amazingly colorful parrotfish and more. And if you’re not into snorkeling you can enjoy a relaxing swim or a nice sunbath on the beach.
In between time spent on the beaches you can visit St. Catherine’s Fort. This is the best fort on the island and the views are absolutely breathtaking. Both children and adults alike will enjoy the moat, drawbridge, tunnels, towers and ramparts.
TIP: As you’re heading out of St. George’s you have to pass the grocery store. Make sure to pick up some water and perhaps some food for lunch. There’s a small food stand with burgers and a licensed bar at Tobacco Bay. There’s also a restaurant above Achilles Bay and a tiny bar on the beach, but if you want to save some money and/or eat more healthy food, the store is your best bet. St Catherine’s Fort had a very tiny café but it wasn’t open when we paid a visit.
5. Enjoy a meal and beverage at one of the lovely St. George’s eateries
My family and I were fortunate to enjoy several meals at Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio in addition to White Horse Pub & Restaurant and one other. By far Wahoo’s was our favorite. The WIFI was good, the drinks came quickly and the food was excellent. Furthermore, I noticed that Wahoo’s was filled with tourists and locals alike.
There are also several cafés and ice cream shops worth a grabbing a snack at.
6. Take a short bus trip to nearby attractions
Within a short bus ride you’ll find the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo. It’s one of Bermuda’s premier attractions. We managed to visit the attraction on a day without cruise ship visitors so we had the place to ourselves. It’s a small attraction but we easily spent several hours taking in all the great stuff. It’s laid out extremely well and there’s so much to observe, read and watch.
The aquarium is fantastic – we learned about all the fish we later went to see when we went snorkeling. The zoo is entertaining – there’s displays of animals from around the world. We liked the open enclosure that housed the monkeys, turtles, birds and iguanas. At one point our daughter had to walk around a huge iguana right in the middle of our path.
And near the Aquarium are the Crystal Caves…not to be missed!
7. Head further afield to visit the capital city, Hamilton, and/or the Naval Dockyards
We visited Hamilton by bus on several occasions and the Naval Dockyards by bus and ferry. Eventually, we motored our boat around from St. George’s to Hamilton and dropped anchor. Whatever way you want to make the trip, it’s enjoyable. The buses drive fast down very narrow roadways. There’s a huge amount of sights to take in looking out at the sea. You’ll pass quiet inlets, busy beaches and buzzing towns.
By sea, you’ll take in Bermuda’s flat terrain picking out a few hotels, the governors’ house and estate, and white roofed properties lining the island. From St. Georges’s you can take a fast ferry directly to the Naval Dockyards. Once I publish my article, review and video’s of Hamilton and the Naval Dockyards I’ll insert the link here ? So…coming soon!
Things to do in Bermuda St George’s VIDEO
Aside from the above there are several Bermudian golf courses worth trying!
Simon and I love to golf but towing our seven year old daughter around for 18 holes would be hell. When Sienna’s off to University we’ll surely return to Bermuda and give the golf courses a go. They all look amazingly maintained and super challenging. And the views…I love the views!
Furthermore, if you’re a dive buff, there are hundred’s of ship and plane wrecks. Make sure to research your options as there’s loads to choose from. Again, with Sienna, we can dive with her yet so we’ll save that for later. Regarding the visibility of the water – we were actually disappointed as we expected it to be clearer. We couldn’t see the bottom in St. George’s Harbour at all…
Upon further research we discovered that July and August have the worst visibility due to growth in the water. That being said, however, we had some great views of fish and sea life while at Tobacco and Achilles bay. Before booking a dive I’d just enquire as to where you can get the best visibility and the best dive!
Good Resources for Bermuda
I purchased the first two items listed below before we sailed to Bermuda. Both were fantastic and I highly recommend getting them if you’re going to visit Bermuda for any length of time.
Overall Tips about visiting Bermuda St George’s
- If you’re sailing into Bermuda make sure to bring as much food, beverages and paper supplies as possible. Everything and I mean everything is around double what you’d normally pay. Celery is $9.00. A glass of wine is $11.00. And the average cost of an entree start around the $25.00 mark. There’s no local veg shop with affordable vegetables!
- If your’e staying a while like we did, consider bus passes that are longer than the day tokens or passes. You can get a week or month pass at a discount.
- Many restaurants/bars have WIFI but many do not. It’s worth asking before you enter.
- Tips/gratuity is usually added to all bills so make sure you don’t tip twice.
- Some grocery stores offer a discount to boaties – the one in St George’s does so it’s worth asking for the discount.
- There are rip tides and Portuguese-man-of-war (they look like bags so don’t grab them!) so make sure you understand what to do if you encounter either of these things.
- Everyone say’s hello and goodbye so don’t be surprised when someone gets off the bus and shouts out, ‘good bye everyone.’