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Island Jewel

In a pandemic world, Bermuda is one place that appears to be open and ready for both business and pleasure

As parts of the world remain off-limits to many travelers, the island of Bermuda provides inspiration and rejuvenation with stunning natural beauty, a historic UNESCO World Heritage Site, and world-class golf and tennis. Most importantly, it is open and welcoming visitors.

At press time, Bermuda was one of only four other places in the world to be assessed with “moderate” COVID-19 risk level according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has also been awarded the World Travel & Tourism Council’s “Safe Travels” Stamp for its enhanced health and hygiene protocols.

Roughly 650 miles off the coast of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda does not share the same characteristics of many tourist-thronged Caribbean islands. Notably, it has cooler temperatures in the fall and winter making it practical for outdoor sporting activities. With a more laid-back atmosphere, it packs plenty of sunny paradise views, pink sand beaches, and European flair.

The Logistics of Visiting Now 

Bermuda’s international airport reopened July 1 with nonstop flights from many US East Coast cities as well as London. During travel and while at the airport, face masks are required for passengers and staff.

Within the seven days prior to departure, visitors must obtain proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to travel to the island. In addition, they must complete a travel authorization form within 48 hours of departure. The form requires a $75 fee, which covers the subsequent required testing once in Bermuda. Upon arrival, visitors must quarantine for 24 hours while they await the results of an additional COVID-19 test.

While on the island, non-residents must report their daily temperatures via an online portal and take follow-up COVID-19 tests on the fourth, eighth, and fourteenth days of their visit. These measures are an important way to mitigate risk, which is especially important when isolated on an island.

These protocols apply to visitors no matter the length of their stay. These serious protocols are part of what might make this especially appealing to people who are considering a temporary move to Bermuda to work remotely.

The implementation of the Work from Bermuda certificate program opens up the island to business travelers and students looking for a remote working option in paradise. For a fee of $263, travelers 18 and older can trade their current work environment for island life. Since early 2020, Digicel Bermuda has implemented a significant boost to bandwidth and Internet speeds to meet the growing demand.

Adventure and Exploration 

While the option to work or study remotely will draw many takers, most of the island’s visitors probably have a shorter vacation in mind. They will be happy to know that the majority of local attractions, shops and restaurants have reopened, albeit with new health and safety protocols in place.

Bermuda does not allow foreigners to rent cars, but they can get around via taxi, ferry, bike or bus. They can also rent small, eco-friendly electric vehicles or scooters. Don’t forget, however, that in Bermuda they drive on the opposite side of the road from the rest of North America.

These great transportation alternatives give visitors plenty of chances to get out and see, do, and experience. Whether relaxing under an umbrella on the beach with a good book or more active pursuits like watersports and hiking, Bermuda has it covered.

Early birds can watch the sunrise from Warwick Long Bay on the island’s South Shore. What becomes quickly apparent for beachgoers here is the seemingly endless array of coves, bays and inlets. This means that even when you’re outdoors, it’s easy to have an entire beach to yourself.

Social distancing is less a concern out in nature; and Bermuda has a lot of natural resources making it easy to be away from people should you wish. There’s nothing like having the entire stretch of sand to call your own.

Among the water-focused adventures around the island, guests will find jet skiing on the open ocean offers an invigorating new perspective of the island. And have you ever heard of helmet diving? Well, you can take a walk the ocean floor with a local company that leads guided exploration of the colorful coral reefs and active marine life below the surface – all while comfortably protected in your own personal underwater helmet.

There’s also stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling and scuba diving around the more than 400 shipwrecks surrounding the island. Perhaps there is something to that Bermuda Triangle theory; the island is considered the “Shipwreck Capital of the Atlantic.”

The adventurous can also visit the caves and grottoes of Blue Hole Park, which is a nature reserve known by locals as Tom Moore’s Jungle. Also notable are the island’s botanical gardens, which stretch for 36 acres and provide ample space for picnicking or reading in the shade. The Bermuda Arboretum features numerous trails and bridges for relaxed strolling.

In one of Bermuda’s largest parks, Ferry Reach, bikers will find plenty of trails for entertainment. The views change with every twist and turn from clifftop perches to mangrove forests.

Speaking of those cliffs, if you’re especially brave, cliff divers will find Admiralty House Park to be an ideal spot to take the plunge thanks to the deeper waters below.

Golfers have always loved Bermuda for its lush, green fairways, many of which have ocean views. In fact, the island has more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in the world, making it the ideal venue for the Bermuda Championship, a PGA Tour event scheduled to be staged at Port Royal Golf Club at the end of October.

Tennis players, too, have plentiful courts to choose from, and moderate temperatures make it pleasant to play much of the day during the fall, winter and spring months.

For more tranquil pursuits, downtown Hamilton has always exuded the charm of a British village. Amid the colorful shops along the waterfront are plenty of pubs, bars and cafes that have reopened with social distancing measures in place. There’s also ample shopping and entertainment at the Royal Naval Dockyard where small souvenir shops and cafes await.

When you are finished exercising your credit card, wander through the historic town of St. George and its surrounding forts, which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These colonial fortifications are well-preserved examples of the British presence here that will appeal to history buffs.

Island Stays 

Like other places around the world, many of the island’s hotels closed temporarily due to the global pandemic. However, many have reopened including the luxurious Rosewood Bermuda and iconic downtown Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, which is part of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Elbow Beach Bermuda Resort & Spa plans to reopen Jan. 1, 2021.

Equally exciting is the number of new hotels planned to open on the island. The St. Regis Bermuda Resort is targeting April 2021 as an opening date for its new island property. In addition to guest rooms, it will feature 30 serviced residences. Also coming in mid-2021 is Bermudiana Beach Resort, a Tapestry Collection by Hilton property, with 90 fully-furnished residences – from studios to three-bedroom accommodations will full kitchens – that are part of the hotel.

While few would call Bermuda a budget destination, there are more affordable lodging options available from serviced apartments to small inns or bed and breakfasts. The island is also known for its many cottages and private residences that work well for longer-stay guests and those that want maximum privacy. Popular lodging platforms like Airbnb and Thirdhome list numerous places to rent on the island.

All things considered, island life could be the perfect winter antidote to pandemic stressors at home. Bermuda’s solid infrastructure and strict health protocols make it the ideal place to visit whether for a short vacation or extended time abroad.