The island of Bermuda features more than 34 beaches. So, cruise passengers who seek sun and sand during their visits are spoiled for choice. Whether you want the best snorkeling spots, a secluded place to take your family, a bit of adventure or somewhere close to port, we've got you covered. Many cruise ships stay several days in Bermuda, which means you have even more time to bask in the sun and take advantage of the island's azure and turquoise waters.
In no particular order, here's a guide to the top beaches in Bermuda. (For more info, read Bermuda Cruise Basics.)
Best Beaches for a Half-Day Visit
One of Bermuda's most popular beaches (and best beaches for snorkeling), Tobacco Bay was given its name because tobacco was dried on the beach in earlier centuries. Jagged limestone rocks separate the ocean from the bay, which results in shallow waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Coral reefs serve as home for a variety of marine life ranging from grouper to parrotfish. After snorkeling, lounge on the beach with rental chairs and beach toys. You can find food vendors nearby. If you want to round out your beach experience, Fort St. Catherine provides you with an overview of Bermuda's history as well as ideal Instagram moments with gorgeous pictures of the Atlantic Ocean. Blackbeard Beach House is one of the best places to watch the sunset with a Dark 'n' Stormy cocktail in hand. On your way back to the port, check out the Unfinished Church, arguably one of the most beautiful architectural sites on the island.
Somerset Long Bay
This stretch along the South Shore promises some of the most pristine beachfront in the world. It is also one of the closest public beaches to the cruise ports near the Royal Naval Dockyard. If you want to add a nature walk and bird watching to your tanning session, check out the Somerset Long Bay Nature Reserve (an ideal activity for the family). Somerset gives you the same salmon-colored sand found at Horseshoe Bay Beach but with fewer crowds, and Somerset is an ideal place to watch the sunset if you stay overnight on the island. Those who are more adventurous will be able to catch waves and wind during a kite-surfing session, which is popular on this beach. Changing rooms and restrooms are available but snack bars are not, so make sure to pack a picnic for the day.
If you can see only one beach in your time on the island, or if it is your first time to Bermuda, make Horseshoe Bay in Southampton Parish your destination. Approximately a 35-minute ride on the Number 7 bus or shuttle from King's Wharf, Horseshoe is revered for its curved-moon shape expanse of pink sand, calm currents, and warm breezes in the summertime. Full amenities (such as umbrellas and equipment rental) are available, and a lifeguard is on duty during the summer months, making this a safe bet for families.
Take the shuttle service (fee) known as "To the Top" if you don't want to walk up the steep hill back to the main road of the bus route.
Best Beaches for Snorkeling
Elbow Beach -- affiliated with Elbow Beach Hotel, one of the islands oldest hotels -- is the beach closest to Hamilton. Graced with a mile of pastel pink sand, the beach is notable for the snorkel over to the shipwreck of the Pollockshields. This 323-foot cargo steamer, which was used as a German naval supply ship in World War I, was trapped in a storm and crashed into the shore reef in front of the hotel in 1915. You can book a tour of the wreck with operators -- such as Blue Water Divers -- who will lead you via an underwater scooter to the ruins of the ship hull, propeller, boilers, rudder and hundreds of artillery shells scattered on the seafloor. Depths range from 15 and 30 feet. Adventurous travelers also have the option of booking an escorted snorkel and kayak adventure.
Church Bay is one of the best-known snorkeling spots on the island because of the reef's proximity to shore. The waters there are deeper than at other popular beaches, so be prepared. In an almost-hidden cove just off South Shore Road, the scene is set to discover an abundance of marine life among coral cliffs and coves, but beware of jellyfish that lurk in colder months. Bring your water shoes to avoid getting cut on rocks in and around the beach. In the summer months, you can rent snorkeling gear.
Best Beaches for Thrillseekers
Admiralty House Park
Cliff jumpers love this destination. The activity became popular with tourists because of viral You Tube videos showing jumpers at the site, and you'll see a lot of young Bermudians making the plunge as well. Those who dare, climb up the rock to dive into the water. As with any extreme activity, proceed with caution and ask others of the surrounding conditions. Aqua shoes may also be helpful in this case. The park is located in Pembroke Parish, easily accessible by the city of Hamilton. The park also features a number of caves sectioned out by the British military in the 1800s.
Royal Naval Dockyard
Though not a beach, this is the location for many of the outfitters that will take you to nearby beaches (or the water) for any number of adventures. Try flyboarding, which lets you indulge in your "Back to the Future" fantasies (an aquatic version) as you are propelled into the air on a water-powered wakeboard. It's a lot harder than it looks; it may take a couple of tries to master it. If you want to stay closer to the water, try a Jet Ski and snorkel safari. You'll take the watercraft over to the shipwreck of the HMS Vixen, a British gunboat, for snorkeling.
Best Beach for Families
A low-key beach experience for those who want to get away from the bustle of Horseshoe Bay, this shallow beach has gentle waves, allowing families with toddlers to swim with minimal stress from currents or surf. Also notable: The beach, located between Hamilton and St. George, has a number of trees that provide shade. A playground with swings, slides and climbing frames provide alternative activities for youngsters, and you'll probably see cricket and soccer teams practicing on the weekends. A beach operator offering rentals and food concessions is on its way, but it's best to bring your own supplies. However, a grocery store and ATM is available a half mile north of the beach. You should remove jewelry before venturing into the water at Shelly Bay, as barracudas, which are attracted to all things shiny, have been spotted there.
Best Beach for Peace and Quiet
Warwick Long Bay
Just over a mile from popular Horseshoe Bay, South Shore Park isn't the most secluded beach on the island, but it is a good option if you're looking for something quieter. Seek your bliss as you touch your toes on the soft pink sands or discover the hidden alcoves among the dunes and bluffs. Climb one of the rocks for a better view of the blue waters. Bring a favorite book for an ideal way to spend the afternoon on the beach. Rentals for snorkel equipment, chairs and umbrellas are available as well as a snack stand in the summer months.
One of the most photographed and well known spots on the island, Jobson's Cove is a short walk from Warwick Long Bay, and you'll find more exclusivity at Jobson's. Play hide and seek or search for shady shelter in one of the coves under the jagged limestone rock formations. Climb up the natural steps of the rocks for your postcard snapshot. Bring your own snorkeling gear to float among the parrotfish in crystal clear waters. There are no facilities on-site, so make sure you take advantage of the changing rooms and bathrooms at Warwick Long Bay and bring your own beach gear and snacks for your visit.
--By Natalie Taylor, Cruise Critic contributor