Your first priority on your Bermuda vacation probably will be to kick back at the beach. But which beach? Hotels often have private stretches of sand; if so, we describe the beach in each hotel's review. There are many fine public beaches as well. Here's our top-10 list, arranged clockwise around the island, beginning with the south-shore beaches closest to the City of Hamilton.
- Elbow Beach (Paget Parish): The pale pink sand stretches for almost a mile at Elbow Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Bermuda. Three hotels sit on its perimeter. Because protective coral reefs surround it, Elbow Beach is one of the safest beaches on the island for swimming.
- Warwick Long Bay (Warwick Parish): This popular beach, on the south side of South Shore Park, features a half-mile stretch of sand against a backdrop of scrubland and low grasses. Despite frequent winds, an offshore reef keeps the waves surprisingly small. Less than 60m (200 ft.) offshore, a jagged coral island appears to be floating above the water. There is excellent snorkeling here -- the waters are clear and marine life comes in close to shore.
- Chaplin Bay (Warwick and Southampton parishes): At the southern extremity of South Shore Park, straddling the boundary of two parishes, this small but secluded beach almost completely disappears during storms and particularly high tides. An open-air coral barrier rises from the water, partially separating one half of the beach from the other.
- Horseshoe Bay (Southampton Parish): This is Bermuda's most famous beach, and it's one of the best for families. Unlike most island beaches, Horseshoe Bay has a lifeguard on duty from May to September. The Horseshoe Bay Beach Cafe (tel. 441/238-2651) offers complete facilities, including watersports equipment rental.
- Church Bay (Southampton Parish): If you like to snorkel, this southwestern beach is for you. The relatively calm waters, sheltered by offshore reefs, harbor a variety of marine life, and a concession stand sells snacks and rents snorkel gear. Sunbathers love the unusually deep pink sands of this beach.
- Somerset Long Bay (Sandys Parish): The waters off this beach are often unsafe for swimming, but its isolation will appeal to anyone who wants to escape the crowds. With about .4km (1/4 mile) of sand, the crescent-shaped beach is ideal for strolling. The undeveloped parkland of Sandys Parish shelters it from the rest of the island.
- Shelly Bay (Hamilton Parish): On the north shore, you'll discover calm waters and soft, pink sand -- and you'll want for nothing else. This beach is well-known among beach buffs, but it's rarely overcrowded and there's always a spot in the sun just waiting for you.
- Tobacco Bay (St. George's Parish): A popular stretch of pale pink sand, this is the most frequented beach on St. George's Island. It offers lots of facilities, including equipment rentals and a snack bar.
- John Smith's Bay (Smith's Parish): The only public beach in Smith's Parish is long and flat. It boasts the pale pink sand for which the south shore is famous. There's usually a lifeguard on duty from May to September -- a plus for families. There are toilet and changing facilities on-site.
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.