Why go to Hamilton?
Bermuda's British ties mean plenty of afternoon tea, golf courses and elegant, clubby eateries
Large ships can't dock in Hamilton; you'll have to pay for a ferry from King's Wharf
Close access to beaches, shopping, dining and historic attractions make time here breezy
Hamilton Cruise Port Facilities?
Ships are merely steps from Front Street shopping, the Ferry Landing, restaurants by the dozen and enough sightseeing stops to fill an entire day. Everything you want is really close at hand.
If you're a first-time visitor, get a good map before setting out, and don't be shy about asking for directions. The Department of Tourism publishes a free pocket map (Bermuda Handy Reference Map) which is typically distributed to hotels and is available at all Visitor Information Centres. It provides an excellent overview, highlighting major attractions, golf courses and public beaches -- along with a detailed street plan of Hamilton.
A good first stop on your first day is at the Visitor's Information Centre on Front Street (open Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.) for bus tokens, tickets and transportation passes. If you're on a larger ship arriving at the Dockyard, a Visitor's Information Centre is located at the Clocktower Parade. Also available here is the Heritage Pass ($25 per person) that gets you access to six cultural attractions within a seven-day period: the Bermuda National Gallery, Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo, Bermuda Maritime Museum, Bermuda National Trust, Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute and all forts; or, if you have only one day to spend, $10 can get you into the Tucker House Museum, Bermuda National Trust and the Verdmont Museum.
Bermudians drive on the left -- and car rentals are verboten -- which means visitors must rely on mopeds, bikes, taxis, ferries and the cotton-candy pink bus system.
Sure, those scooters are cute and you will 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.
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 (built-for-twos will run $55 - $65). Rentals are available at Wheel Cycles on Front Street
Conventional bikes (livery cycles or "peddle bikes" to the locals) are rentable for about $20 a day at just a few shops throughout the island -- but since Bermuda is known for its steep hills, it might prove to be a bit of a challenge. One fun option is to ride all or part of the flat 18-mile Bermuda Railway Trail, which runs the length of the island. Oleander Cycles' location in Southampton is the closest, although they are likely to try to sell you a standard bicycle; ask them if they have electric bikes that you can rent for the day.
Pink buses travel along all major roadways, making stops every 15 minutes except Sundays and holidays when it's every hour, or...well...not. That's the good news. The bad news is they'll eat into the time you have on the island. You'll need exact change in coins (or tokens) for the fare box (from Hamilton to King's Wharf, for example, is $4.50; 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. .
Time-saving ferries criss-cross the Great Sound between Hamilton and King's Wharf for $4 (kids pay $1), but cash is no longer accepted. Tokens are available at the Hamilton Ferry Terminal, the Visitors Information Centre (Front Street and the Clocktower at King's Wharf) and the Central Terminal (Washington Street). Take mopeds and bikes onboard most routes for an additional $4. Schedules are posted at the landing.
Taxis are plentiful but pricey; 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., and on Sundays and holidays. There are more than a handful of taxi stands along Front Street and another on Church Street near the Central Terminal.
Surrey rides are fun, and you'll find plenty near Front Street's docks in Hamilton. A half-hour jaunt will run you $30. There's not much wiggle room when it comes to negotiating a lower fare.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Legal tender is the Bermuda dollar, which is divided into 100 cents. One Bermuda dollar is currently equal to one U.S. dollar. 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. There are plenty of ATMs throughout Hamilton, including locations inside Trimingham's and the Visitors Service Bureau. For more currency exchange information, visit www.oanda.com.
Note: Bank of Bermuda's ATMs can only take four-digit PINs.
Where You're Docked?
If you are on cruise ship that is less than 700 feet long, you'll dock in downtown Hamilton, at Passenger Terminal 1, 5 or 6. If, however, you're on a larger ship, you'll be docking at King's Wharf, (also known as The Royal Navy Dockyard) since Hamilton Harbour cannot accommodate post-Panamax vessels. In that instance, you can take a ferry to downtown Hamilton from the King's Wharf Terminal.