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St. George's Overview
A storybook town that was once Bermuda's capital, St. George's is also famous as the second English settlement in the New World, after Jamestown. A World Heritage Site, it's a maze of quaint narrow streets with names like Featherbed Alley and Old Maid's Lane (two worth a look are Shinbone Alley and Silk Alley).
St. George's also played a role in the American Revolution. Bermuda depended on the American Colonies for food, and when the war began, supplies grew dangerously low. Without the approval of the British Bermudian governor, George Washington and Henry Tucker struck a deal: gunpowder for food under the cover of night in Tobacco Bay. King's Square is the best spot for unfolding a map and heading for the sights along the tiny streets and lanes (the Visitors Service Bureau is there, ready to hand over self-guided walking tour brochures and maps). Beckoning beaches include Tobacco Bay, which also happens to be a snorkeling paradise, and Achilles Bay.
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Other Bermuda Cruise Ports:
Hamilton • King's Wharf • St. George's
English is understood and spoken everywhere.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
Legal tender is the Bermuda dollar, which is divided into 100 cents. BD$1 = US$1. U.S. currency is normally accepted in shops, restaurants and hotels, but currency from Britain, Canada and other foreign countries is not. Exchanging money is easy, whether it's at an ATM or a bank. The Bank of Bermuda and Bank of Butterfield are in St. George's, open Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Both have ATMs. For more currency exchange information, visit www.oanda.com.
Note: Bank of Bermuda's ATMs can only take four digit-PINs.
Under the heading of "best deals" are U.K. imports, such as nice cashmere sweaters and Harris tweeds. You're shopping duty-free, so that means prices are at least 20 percent less than the U.S. You might get closer to a 40 percent range at some places, but prices aren't as good as they once were. You could also buy ginger beer (we think it's an acquired taste) and Gosling's rum to make a Dark 'n' Stormy back home. And don't forget the Bermuda shorts!
A rum swizzle (rum, apricot brandy, brandy, honey, lemon and lime) at the Swizzle Inn, considered the inventor of the drink. When you're done, stop in their gift shop and buy a swizzle rum cocktail shaker for concocting them back home.
Where You're Docked
You'll tie up in Ordinance Island (merely steps from King's Square).
Everything you want is really close at hand.
Bermudians drive on the left and car rentals aren't allowed, leaving visitors with the options of mopeds, bikes, taxis, ferries and the cotton-candy pink bus system. Sure, those scooters are cute and you'll be tempted to rent one, but we suggest thinking twice if you're a newbie. The roads are narrow and winding, and you'll find yourself spending a good deal of time getting out of the way of speeding locals who don't care whether they pass on the left or right -- to say nothing of that cumbersome left-side driving detail.
If your mind is made up to take a scooter, you should still consider a taxi for evening outings and rainy days. You don't need a driver's license, but you do need a helmet and insurance (the rental company includes both in the rental fee). You also must be over the age of 16. Ask about multi-day prices (about $60 for two days, $81 for three); otherwise, plan on $38 for a one-day rental (scooters built for two will run $55-$65). Rentals are available from Oleander Cycles on York Street (www.oleandercycles.bm). Conventional bikes (livery cycles to the locals) are rentable for about $20 a day at just a few shops throughout the island (contact Oleander for the closest location carrying livery types) -- but since Bermuda is known for its steep hills, it might prove to be a bit of a challenge. If you don't want to splurge on renting a bike helmet, bring one from home.
The pink buses travel along all major roadways making stops every 15 minutes, except Sundays and holidays when it's every hour or not at all on some routes -- and it's really not a bad way to sightsee. That's the good news. The bad news is they'll eat into the time you have on the island. Using the Orange Route buses, the trip to Hamilton takes an hour -- though an express bus will cut the time by 20 minutes. You'll need exact change in coins (or tokens) for the fare box (St. George's to Hamilton, for example, is $4, ages 5 - 16, $2, under five, free). Transportation Passes for one or three days are also available for unlimited use for all zones for $12 and $28, respectively. For more information, visit www.bermudabuses.com. For $2, hop on the yearround St. George's Mini-Bus from 7:30 a.m. to midnight for getting around St. George Parish and St, David's Island. They leave from King's Square -- but you can flag them down along the roadway.
Time-saving ferries crisscross the Great Sound between St. George's and Hamilton (1 3/4 hours) and King's Wharf (1 hour) for $4 (kids pay $1), but cash is no longer accepted. Tokens are available at the Hamilton Ferry Terminal, the Hamilton Visitors Service Bureau and the Central Terminal, also in Hamilton. Take mopeds and bikes onboard for routes for an additional $4. Schedules are posted at the landing. For more information, visit www.seaexpress.bm.
Taxis are plentiful but pricy (the first drop is $4.50). If you want to use one for sightseeing, we suggest taking ones that have blue flags on their hoods. That means the driver is government-qualified. Fares increase by 25 percent between midnight and 6 a.m., Sundays and holidays. There is a taxi stand in King's Square, close to Water Street and the Cruise Ship Terminal.
Note: The Visitors Service Bureau in King's Square (Monday - Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) is where to get bus tokens and Transportation Passes, maps and other information before setting out. Also available here is the Heritage Pass, priced at $25 per person, which gives you access to six cultural attractions within a 7-day period: the Bermuda National Gallery, Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo, Bermuda Maritime Museum, Bermuda National Trust, Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute and all forts.
The Bermuda National Trust Museum: Though it was once the Globe Hotel in the 19th century, its history goes back to 1699, when it was built as the Governor's house. Unbeknownst to anyone, its first governor (Samuel Day) secretly secured the title to the house in order to use it as his future home. His secret was out the day the next governor turned up to move in. Today, the museum exhibits the history of St. George's. Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. King's Square.
Carriage House Museum: Filled with 19th-century buggies and such that were all used to get around before the automobile first showed up in 1946. You'll see beautifully restored broughams, phaetons, an opera bus, even a small child's runabout. Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Water St.
Carter House: One of Bermuda's oldest houses, it's now a museum with exhibitions on the history of whaling, piloting, fishing and farming. It's also a chance to see dolls and children's toys made from palmetto leaves. Tuesday - Thursday and Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Second Sunday of each month noon - 4 p.m. Southside Rd, St. David's.
Holy Trinity Church: See-worthy. Originally built in 1623, the view of Harrington Sound rates a detour here. Anglican services on Sundays. Trinity Church Rd, Baily's Bay.
St. George's Historical Society Museum: In a home built around 1700, this museum contains an original 18th-century Bermuda kitchen, complete with utensils from that period. Other exhibits include a rare 300-year-old breeches Bible, a letter from George Washington, and Native American ax heads. Monday - Friday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Duke of Kent St.
Somers Gardens: Opened in 1920 by the Duke of Windsor, here lies the tomb of Admiral Sir George Somers amid a lovely array of roses, hibiscus and palm trees. Daily. Duke of York St.
Tucker House Museum: Once the home of the well known Tucker family of England, Bermuda, and Virginia, it 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. Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Water St.
Unfinished Church: A beloved landmark, it was to replace St. Peter's. Work was intermittent from 1874 to 1899 -- but beset by financial woes, in-fighting and severe storm damage, parishioners decided to restore St. Peter's instead. Daily dawn - dusk. Duke of Kent St.
Deliverance: Steps from King's Square and the cruise terminal. 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. Daily. Ordinance Island.
Featherbed Alley Printery: Check out the working 17th-century Gutenberg-style press that was used for more than three centuries. It's also home to the early editions of the Bermuda Gazette published from 1784 - 1816. Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Featherbed Alley.
Fort St. Catherine: Originally built in 1613, this 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. Daily 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Coot Pond Rd.
Old State House: Oldest building in Bermuda (1620). It's where Bermuda's parliament and principal courts met when St. George's was the capital. It's worth a look from the outside. Princess St.
St. Peter's Church: Appropriately high above the town's main street is the oldest Anglican church (early 1700s) in the Western Hemisphere. The original was built in 1612 on the same site. In addition to the beautiful cedar work, you can see the 1625 St. George Chalice and the mahogany alter -- said to be the oldest piece of furniture in Bermuda.
Note: The Old Rectory behind the church is only open to visitors from November - March. Daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Anglican service Sunday 11 a.m.). Duke of York St.
Been There, Done That
Crystal Caves: You'll ooh and ahh at what's lurking 80 feet under the ground -- 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!). Daily 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Wilkinson Ave, Baily's Bay.
Note: If you have an aversion to climbing lots of steps or you're a bit claustrophobic, cross this off your to-see list.
Nonsuch Island: Near the entrance to Castle Harbor, this exceptional nature reserve is the brainchild of David B. Wingate, Bermuda's conservation officer from 1966-2000. Inspired by the rediscovery of the rare Bermuda petral, he aimed to restore the island's native flora and fauna inside the 15-acre island, incorporating microcosm features of almost every Bermuda habitat from pre-Colonial days. See at least 25 species of migratory water birds such as the yellow-crowned night heron. Access to the island is limited, but visits can be arranged. Near Castle Harbor. (www.bbsr.edu/involved/nstour/nstour.html).
Spittal Pond Nature Reserve: Bermuda's largest wildlife sanctuary, it attracts about 25 species of waterfowl from November to May. Absolutely consider the very scenic mile-long walk past an amazing variety of flowers and trees. Don't miss Jeffrey's Hole, a cave named for an escaped slave who supposedly hid out here. Guided tours Friday 1 p.m. Daily dawn - dusk. South Shore Rd.
The beaches are small when compared to most found in the U.S., ranging from as narrow as 15 yards to about half a mile. Set your mind on idle and let the sun go to your head on pink-tinged sands that seem to melt into the sea.
Notes: Bermuda's Guide to Beaches and Transportation is free at all visitor centers and most hotels. Body boards can be rented for about $20 from local shops around the island.
Achilles Bay: Small beach that's got great snorkeling and windsurfing. Not as crowded as Tobacco Bay. Gear rentals, changing room, snacks.
Clearwater Beach and Park: A 36-acre great-for-kids site that includes nature trails. Reid Clearwater Cafe is a good bet for snacks and light meals. Gear rentals for snorkeling, as well as chairs, lounges, towels and rafts. Changing rooms, showers and restrooms. Cooper's Island, off St. David's Island.
Tobacco Bay: Great snorkeling. You can see families of squid and even octopus. Gear rentals, umbrella rentals, changing room, snacks. Tends to get crowded with other cruise passengers.
Putting around is easy in Bermuda, given that they've got the most golf courses per square mile of any other place on earth. We've listed those closest to St. George's.
Note: Golf balls are astronomically expensive. Bring your own.
Mid-Ocean Club: The best you'll come across. Rated one of the best in the world. C.B. Macdonald-designed 18-hole par 71. Private, but allows visitors Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can book tee times up to 24 hours in advance. Greens fees $190. 441-293-0330.
St. George's Golf Club: Wonderful sight lines on an 18-hole par 62 Robert Trent Jones-designed course. This was one of the last designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. prior to his retirement. You can book tee times up to seven days in advance. Greens fees $50-$55. 441-297-1836.
Tucker's Point Golf Club: Challenging 18-hole, par 70 Roger Rulewich newly-designed course. Incredible views. Private, but allows visitors. You can book up to 48 hours in advance. Greens fees $185. 441-298-6959.
You'll find plenty of traditional dishes like fish chowder laced with black rum and hot peppers, and hashed shark.
Note: Order anything made with their fabulous Bermuda onions.
Food for thought: Norwegian Majesty's Bermuda Freestyle Dining Ashore Program gives cruisers the opportunity to try any one of a dozen-plus first-rate restaurants. We love Carriage House for both lunch and dinner. Pay $5 and get a lunch voucher worth $25 or $10 for a $50 dinner voucher.
Black Horse Tavern: Shark hash and celebrity sightings. Per-person cost for three courses including wine will run about $25. Tuesday - Saturday 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Sunday noon - 3 p.m. St. David's Rd.
Carriage House: 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. Per-person cost for three courses including wine will run about $25. Daily 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. 22 Water St.
Freddie's Pub on the Square: Popular hangout for English fare. Try the shepherd's pie; it won't disappoint. Per-person cost for three courses including wine will run about $25. Daily 11 a.m. - 3 a.m. 3 King's Square.
San Giorgio: Italian fare with great views. We say stick with the pastas. Per-person cost for three courses including wine will run about $32. Reservations recommended. Daily 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Water St.
White Horse Tavern: Would you believe us if we said the Philly steak sandwich was to die for? Per-person cost for three courses including wine will run about $25. Daily 11:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. King's Square.
Staying in Touch
There are no Internet Cafes in St. George's. For other locations, see our Hamilton port profile.
Here are our choices for the best ship-sponsored shore excursions.
Best Choice for Nature Lovers: Nonsuch Island Nature Reserve. Duration: 3 3/4 hours. Price: $125. Offered by Regent Seven Seas.
Best Choice for Sportspersons: Teeing off at the Ocean View Golf Club. Duration: Up to 5 hours Price: Up to $95. Offered by Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International.
Best Choice for Culture Vultures: St. George's Heritage Walking Tour. Duration: Up to 1 1/2 hours. Price: $23-27. Offered by Celebrity Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean International.
For More Information
Call the Bermuda Department of Tourism at 800-237-6832.
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