Sandys Parish is one of the island's real beauty spots. If you're looking for a place to just wander about and get lost on a summer day, this lovely parish is well worth your time. Fort Scaur and the Royal Naval Dockyard on Ireland Island are the major attractions. If you're pressed for time, skip the Gilbert Nature Reserve and St. James' Anglican Church.
To explore this tip of the fishhook that is Bermuda, it's best to take a ferry (the fare is $4). The trip from the City of Hamilton to Watford Bridge takes 45 minutes, and you can take your bike onboard free (there's an additional $4 charge for scooters and mopeds). Ferries originating in the City of Hamilton also stop at Cavello Bay, Somerset Bridge, Boaz Island, and the Royal Naval Dockyard. The Visitors Information Centre is at the Royal Naval Dockyard (tel. 441/799-4842), across from the ferry terminal. From May to October, hours are Sunday to Friday 9am to 5pm (closed Sat). For more information on the ferry service, call tel. 441/295-4506 or visit www.seaexpress.bm.
The World's Smallest Drawbridge -- After leaving Fort Scaur, you can continue over the much-photographed 17th-century Somerset Bridge, the world's smallest drawbridge. During the rare moments when it's open for marine traffic, the space between the spans is a mere 56 centimeters (22 in.) at road level -- just large enough for the mast of a sailboat to pass through.
A Park of Your Own -- Just when you thought that everything in "Paradise" (as locals call Bermuda) had been discovered, you happen upon 15-hectare (37-acre) Hog Bay Park. In spite of its unattractive name, this is one of the beauty spots of Bermuda, and one of its least visited attractions. To reach the park from the City of Hamilton, take a ferry across Great Sound, getting off at the Somerset Bridge ferry stop. Cross the Somerset drawbridge and follow the trail of the old Bermuda Railway. Cross Middle Road into the park. Once at the park you'll pass ruins of kilns once used for making lime to paint the famous whitewashed roofs of island homes. As you meander, you'll come across old abandoned cottages, finally reaching Sugar Loaf Hill with its Look Out Point. From here, you'll be rewarded with one of the greatest panoramic views on Bermuda. As Barbra Streisand might put it: "On a clear day, you can see forever."
The Sounds of Silence (& Gregorian Chant) -- In crowded Bermuda, finding solitude and tranquility grows increasingly more difficult. But we stumbled upon the 18-hectare (43-acre) Heydon Trust, Heydon Drive (tel. 441/234-1831), in Sandys Parish, open daily dawn to dusk. This setting, which is also a sanctuary for migratory birds, is Bermuda the way it used to be. The grounds are filled with flower gardens, citrus orchards, walkways, and even a tiny chapel dating from 1620. Chapel services are held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 7:30am. There is also a chant service Monday through Saturday at 3pm. Park benches are found throughout the preserve where you can sit and contemplate nature (or your navel).
Ireland Island & the Royal Naval Dockyard
The American War of Independence created a crisis for Britain's military planners: Ports along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard were closed to British warships for repairs and replenishments. And during the Napoleonic Wars with France, the need for a British-controlled stronghold in the mid-Atlantic became something approaching an obsession with Britain's military leaders. Beginning in 1809, foundations for a massive naval fortress evolved, based mostly on enforced labor from slaves (and later freed slaves), prisoners, and prisoners-of-war.
Today, the Royal Naval Dockyard is one of the premier attractions of Bermuda. Within the sprawling compound are a scattering of shops and restaurants.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.