Arriving By Plane
Planes arrive at the Bermuda International Airport (BDA), Kindley Field Road, St. George (tel. 441/293-2470; www.bermudaairport.com), about 15km (9 miles) east of the City of Hamilton and about 27km (17 miles) east of Somerset at the far western end of Bermuda.
After clearing Customs, you can pick up tourist information at the airport before heading to your hotel. Because you aren't allowed to rent a car in Bermuda, and buses don't allow passengers to board with luggage, you must rely on a taxi or minivan to reach your hotel.
Leaving the Airport by Taxi or Minivan -- More than 600 taxis are available on Bermuda, and cabbies meet all arriving flights. Taxis are allowed to carry a maximum of four passengers. If you and your traveling companion have a lot of luggage, you will need the taxi to yourselves.
Taxis in Bermuda are unduly expensive: They usually move slowly, meters seem to rise alarmingly fast, and taxi fares will inevitably represent a significant percentage of your day-to-day spending money. Regrettably, this situation can't be avoided. Nonresidents are forbidden to drive cars, and your only other option involves either walking (not practical on many of the very narrow roads) or renting either a bicycle or a small-capacity motorcycle (more on that later).
Unless the taxi has been specifically called to pick you up, in which case it will be a bit higher, the meter should read $6.40 when you first get in a cab. After that, expect to pay $6 for the first 1.6km (1 mile) and $2 for each additional 1.6km (1 mile) for up to four passengers. The following is a sample of taxi fares, including a tip of 10% to 15%, from the airport: To any point within the City of Hamilton, expect a metered fare of around $28 to $35; to points in and around St. George, around $18 to $24; to points near Tucker's Town, around $35; to such south-shore beach hotels as Elbow Beach, around $40 to $54; and to such far-distant points as the West End, around $65. Fares increase by 25% between midnight and 6am, as well as all day on Sundays and holidays. Luggage carries a surcharge of $1 per piece. In almost every case, a meter determines the fare, unless you ask for a general tour of the island.
There are several authorized taxi companies on the island, including C.O.O.P. (tel. 441/292-4476) and Bermuda Taxi Radio Cabs Ltd. (tel. 441/295-4141).
It's cheaper for a party of four or more to call a minivan and split the cost than to take two taxis (because usually only two people with luggage can fit into each taxi). Arrange, if it's practical, for a 10-passenger minivan, or if you're conducting a large group, for a bus holding between 20 and 25 passengers, before you arrive in Bermuda by contacting Bermuda Hosts, 3 Cahhow Way, St. George CR 04 (tel. 441/293-1334; www.bermudahosts.bm). If you're traveling in a party of only two, consider asking a waiting chartered bus at the airport if it has room to take in two extra passengers. Using that mode of transportation, trips from the airport to such nearby hotels as Grotto Bay will cost as little as $15 per person, trips to the City of Hamilton will cost around $35 per person, and trips to the island's distant West End will cost around $68 per person.
Bear in mind, however, that these fares are imposed on a per-person basis, and taxis charge their rates for a collective carload of up to four passengers, depending on their ability to fit in all their luggage.
Arriving by Cruise Ship
This is the easiest way to arrive in Bermuda. The staff will present you with a list of tour options long before you arrive in port, and almost everything is done for you unless you choose to make your own arrangements (although an independent taxi tour is far more expensive than an organized tour). Most passengers book shore excursions when they reserve their cruise.
Depending on your ship, you will probably arrive in either the City of Hamilton (best for shopaholics) or St. George (best for architecture and history buffs). A few ships dock at the Royal Naval Dockyard on Bermuda's West End. Whichever port you dock at, you can avail yourself of the waiting taxis near your ship, or rent a moped or bicycle and do some touring and shopping on your own. For more information about cruising to Bermuda, see above.
Bermuda is the only Atlantic island that restricts car ownership to local residents. Part of the reason for this is the notoriously narrow roads, which have small or nonexistent shoulders and hundreds of blind curves. Add the British custom of driving on the left, and there would be traffic chaos if newcomers were allowed to take to the roads in rented cars. You'll rely on taxis, bikes, or motorized bicycles called "putt-putts."
Dozens of taxis roam the island, and virtually every hotel, restaurant, and shop is happy to call one for you. The hourly charge is $50 for one to four passengers. A luxury tour van accommodating up to six passengers costs $55 to $85 an hour. If you want to use one for a sightseeing tour, the minimum is 3 hours.
Taxi Touring Tip -- When a taxi has a blue flag on its hood (locals call the hood the "bonnet"), the driver is qualified to serve as a tour guide. The government checks out and tests these drivers, so you should use them if you plan to tour Bermuda by taxi. "Blue-bonnet" drivers charge no more than regular taxi drivers.
Dependence on cabs and rented motor scooters, mopeds, and bicycles is simply a fact of Bermudian life that newcomers quickly accept as part of the island's charm. Although not having a car at your disposal is inconvenient, the island's tourist brochures make it seem just wonderful: a happy couple bicycling or mopeding around Bermuda on a sunny day, slowly putt-putting across the islands.
What the brochures don't tell you is that the roads are too narrow, and Bermudians -- who are likely to own cars, and pay dearly for the privilege -- feel that the road is theirs. Sometimes it starts raining almost without warning (the skies usually clear rapidly, and the roads dry quickly). During inclement weather, scooter riders are likely to be edged close -- sometimes disturbingly close -- to the shoulder; after rainstorms, they'll almost certainly be splattered with water or mud. Many accidents occur on slippery roads after a rain, especially involving those not accustomed to using a motor scooter.
Who should rent a moped or scooter, and who should avoid them altogether? Frankly, the answer depends on your physical fitness and the time of day. Even the most stiffly starched might find a wind-whipped morning ride from the hotel to the beach or tennis courts invigorating and fun. Dressed to the nines for a candlelit dinner, you'd find the experience horrifying. And although the putt-putters can be a lot of fun during a sunny day, the machines can be dangerous and capricious after dark -- and, of course, when you've had too many daiquiris. Not everyone is fit enough, either. And visitors on mopeds have a high accident rate, with at least some of the problems related to driving on the left.
Considering the hazards, we usually recommend that reasonably adept sports enthusiasts rent a moped for a day or two. For evening outings, we firmly believe that a taxi is the way to go.
You must be 16 or older to rent a motorbike. Some vehicles are big enough to cozily accommodate two adults. Helmets are required, and rental companies must provide them.
What's the difference between a moped and a motor scooter? Mopeds have larger wheels than scooters, and subject riders to fewer shocks as they traverse bumps in the road. Most (but not all) mopeds are designed for one rider; scooters accommodate either a single passenger or two passengers riding in tandem. Both have similar maximum speeds and horsepower.
There are quite a few gas stations (called "petrol stations"). Once you "tank up" your motorbike, chances are you'll have plenty of gas to get you to your destination; for example, one tank of gas in a motorbike will take you from Somerset in the west to St. George in the east.
Among the rental companies listed below, there's a tendency toward price fixing. Rental fees across the island tend to be roughly equivalent, and shopping around for a better deal is usually a waste of time. On average, mopeds for one rider rent for $48 for the first day, $89 for 2 days, $122 for 3 days, and $173 for 5 days. Scooters for two riders cost about $53 for 1 day, $102 for 2 days, or up to $174 for 4 days. You must pay with a major credit card; it serves as a deposit in case of damage or theft. Note: You must also purchase a one-time insurance policy for $30 included in the price. The insurance is valid for the length of the rental.
You can rent mopeds and scooters at Wheels Cycle (tel. 441/292-2245; http://web.me.com/dpanchau), which has two locations in the City of Hamilton: one at Flatts Village, Grotto Bay Hotel, and one in Paget Parish.
Oleander Cycles Ltd., 6 Valley Rd., Paget Parish (tel. 441/236-5235; www.oleandercycles.bm), rents only scooters. A first-day rental for a single-seater is $50, $55 for a double. Subsequent days have price reductions depending on the length of rental. There are also locations at 15 Gorham Rd. in the City of Hamilton (tel. 441/295-0919), 8 Middle Rd. in Southampton (tel. 441/234-0629), 26 York St. in St. George (tel. 441/297-0478), King's Wharf Dockyard (tel. 441/234-2764), and the Reefs Hotel Southampton (tel. 441/238-0222). They're open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm, with a 24-hour emergency number (tel. 441/236-5235).
Eve Cycle Ltd., 114 Middle Rd., Paget Parish (tel. 441/236-6247; www.evecycles.com); 1 Water St., St. George (tel. 441/236-0839); and at the International Airport (tel. 441/293-6188), rents a variety of scooters; they cost $48 to $53 for the first day, and $173 to $200 for 5 days, depending on the model, with successively lower prices for each additional day.
A final option for motorbike rentals, with a reputation that goes back to 1947, is Smatt's Cycle Livery, Ltd., 74 Pitts Bay Rd., Hamilton, Pembroke Parish (tel. 441/295-1180; www.smattscyclelivery.com). It's adjacent to the Hamilton Princess Hotel. Motorbikes cost $50 for a 1-day rental, $95 for a 2-day rental, and $135 for a 3-day rental. Dual-seaters rent for $75 for 1 day, $127 for 2 days, and $170 for 3 days. Staff will give you instructions on bike safety and protocol.
Who Are You Talking To? -- Police are cracking down on vacationers who use cellphones while riding motorcycles and bicycles -- violators are being pulled over by the police and given a fine.
Pedaling a bike up Bermuda's steep hills can be a bit of a challenge, but if you're looking for a more natural means of locomotion than a putt-putt, you can rent bikes at most cycle liveries .
Eve Cycle Ltd., 114 Middle Rd., Paget Parish (tel. 441/236-6247; www.evecycles.com), offers one of the best rental deals on the island. Named after the legendary matriarch who founded the company more than 50 years ago, Eve's rents men's and women's bicycles (usually 10- to 12-speed mountain bikes, well suited to the island's hilly terrain). Prices for 21-speed mountain bikes are $30 for a 1-day rental, $50 for a 2-day rental, and $65 for a 3-day rental. A $15 insurance policy is required. The shop is a 10-minute taxi ride (or a leisurely 20-min. cycle) west of the City of Hamilton. As with motorbiking, exercise caution because roads are narrow and often slippery, and scooter riders and left-hand driving can make things confusing.
Bermuda's bus network covers all major routes, and nearly all hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants have bus stops close by. There's even a do-it-yourself sightseeing tour by bus and ferry. Regularly scheduled buses go to most of the destinations that interest visitors in Bermuda, but be prepared to wait. Some buses don't run on Sundays or holidays, so be sure you know the schedule for the trip you want to make.
Bermuda is divided into 14 zones of about 3km (1 3/4 miles) each. The regular cash fare for up to three zones is $3. For more than three zones, it's $4.50. Children 5 to 16 pay $2 for all zones; children 4 and under ride free. On the run from the City of Hamilton to the Royal Naval Dockyard (no. 7 or 8), the fare is $4.50 for adults, $2 for children. Note: You must have the exact change in coins or tokens ready to deposit in the fare box as you board the bus. Drivers do not make change or accept bills -- to avoid the hassle, especially if you plan to make good use of Bermuda's transportation network during your stay, consider purchasing a ticket booklet or day-pass.
You can purchase $4 tokens at branch post offices or at the Central Bus Terminal on Washington Street in the City of Hamilton, where all routes, except route 6, begin and end. The terminal is just off Church Street, a few steps east of City Hall. You can get there from Front Street or Reid Street by going up Queen Street or through Walker Arcade and Washington Mall.
If you plan to travel a lot, you might want to purchase a booklet of 15 tickets. A booklet of 14-zone tickets costs $30, of 3-zone tickets $20. For children, 15 tickets cost $7.50, regardless of the number of zones. You can buy the booklets at post offices or the central bus terminal. You can also purchase passes that allow travel in all zones for 1 day to 1 month. A 1-day pass costs $12, a 3-day pass costs $28, a 4-day pass is $35, a 1-week pass is $45, and a 1-month pass is $55. For more information on bus service, call tel. 441/292-3851. Note: These booklets and passes are also usable on the ferry system, so be sure to factor that in when deciding whether or not to purchase a booklet or pass.
In the east, St. George's Mini-Bus Service (tel. 441/297-8492 or 441/297-8199) operates a minibus service around St. George's Parish and St. David's Island. The basic one-way fare is $3. Buses depart from King's Square in the center of St. George, and can be flagged down along the road. In summer, service is daily from 7:30am to midnight. In the off season, service is Monday through Thursday from 7:30am to 10pm, Friday and Saturday from 7:30am to midnight.
Trolleylike buses that seat 60 serve the City of Hamilton and the Royal Naval Dockyard. Passengers can get on and off throughout the day for a single fare of $12. The City of Hamilton trolley stops at the major points of interest, including the Botanical Gardens; the dockyard bus calls at the crafts market. Tickets are sold at most hotels, the City of Hamilton train station, and the Oleander cycle shop.
One of the most scenic ways of getting around Bermuda is the government-operated ferry service. Ferries crisscross Great Sound between the City of Hamilton and Somerset; the one-way fare is $4. They also take the harbor route, from the City of Hamilton to the hotel-filled parishes of Paget and Warwick. The ride from the City of Hamilton to Paget costs $2.50. On all routes, children 5 to 16 pay $2, and children 4 and under ride free. Motorbikes are allowed on the City of Hamilton to Somerset run for $4, with bikes transported free (these rules and fees vary, however, so call ahead if you plan to take a bike or motorbike with you on other routes).
The ferry system also accepts the same ticket booklets and day-passes as the bus system.
For ferry service information, call tel. 441/295-4506 in the City of Hamilton. Ferry schedules are posted at each landing and are available at the Ferry Terminal, the Central Bus Terminal in the City of Hamilton, and most hotels.
Note: Like buses, the ferries require exact change (though tickets/tokens/passes are strongly preferred). If you aren't using the aforementioned ticket booklet or pass, be sure you have exact change or tokens.
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.