Around Bermuda by Local Buses
Bus transportation is one of the three most used methods of traveling to Hamilton and all around the island--the other two being the ferries and scooters---however cars are becoming very popular unfortunately. The color of Bermuda's buses is so unusual you cannot fail to notice them!! They are vivid Pink and Blue!! During our most recent trip in April,2013, we used the buses to travel from Hamilton to the Aquarium and Zoo in Flatts Village, and from there onto St. George's all using our combination bus/ferry day pass. The buses were on-time, fast and extremely convenient!
There is a large, covered bus terminal in City of Hamilton located just next to City Hall at the corner of Church Street and Cedar Avenue; it is a centralized location for workers to reach their places of employment as well as easy for tourists wishing to reach those destinations not served by ferries.
The Bermuda bus routes are divided in 14 zones of about 2 miles each. The bus fare depends on how many zones you are traveling. Don't be caught without the right currency when taking a pink bus --- for paying bus fares in cash, you will need to tender the exact fare in coins. Paper money or "Notes" are not acceptable. Another form of acceptable payment is tokens.
Bus passes are sold at different venues in varying lengths of time: a 1day, 2day, 3day, 4day pass or weekly pass. There are two important benefits to buying passes: They are the best value when you intend to ride more than once or twice a day and are good for any number of zones (zones cover about 2 miles each); AND the passes and tokens also work for Bermuda Ferries!! Bus/ferry passes are now 1 day- $15; 2-day pass cost $25 per person (2013 price).
Know Your Poles:
It is very IMPORTANT to know that bus stops are marked sometimes by shelters of course but maybe marked by metal poles. If the pole is pink this indicates that the stop is for buses heading into the City of Hamilton; whereas if it is blue, the stop serves buses heading away from the City of Hamilton.
A bus/ferry schedule can be obtained at many locations around Bermuda, but locals and shopkeepers are also quite familiar with which bus you need to reach your destination!!Related to:
- Budget Travel
Take a ferry
A ferry service plies the waters between Hamilton, Paget and Warwick, or from Hamilton to Ireland Island and to St. George’s .Only transportation passes, tickets and tokens are acceptable (not cash) and these can be purchased at the visitor center or the terminal and some hotels.
It's only a 25 minute enjoyable ride to the Dockyard from Hamilton!!Related to:
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
- Work Abroad
Motorized Two Wheel Vehicle
Non-residents are not allowed to own, rent, or drive four-wheeled vehicles. This is partly because of the narrow roads, which have small or nonexistent shoulders and hundreds of blind curves. Scooters (mopeds/motorcycles) can be dangerous after dark or when the roads are wet. Visitors on mopeds have a high accident rate, with at least some of the problems related to driving on the left.
When Bob's ship was in port here in 1963, the ship personnel were forbidden to rent them because too many of them came back to the ship injured (or didn't come back).
No drivers license is needed for motor scooter rental but children under the age of 16 are not permitted to drive. Helmets are required. Driving is on the left. The speed limit in Hamilton is 25 kph (15 mph); 35 kph (21 mph) on the rest of the island.
"Be forewarned that local scooter drivers tend to abuse the speed limit more often than auto drivers and they will often pass on the left or right with no warning."
Mopeds have larger wheels than scooters and look more like motorcycles.
Mopeds for one rider rent for $53 for the first day, $83 for 2 days, $106 for 3 days, and $168 for 7 days. Scooters for two riders cost $62 to $81 for 1 day. You must pay with a major credit card; it serves as a deposit in case of damage or theft. You must also purchase a one-time insurance policy for $18. The insurance is valid for the length of the rental.
You can rent mopeds and scooters at Wheels (tel. 441/292-2245), at Concord Cycle Shop, at The Fairmont Southampton Princess (tel. 441/238-3336) and at Oleander Cycles Ltd., Valley Road, P.O. Box 114, Paget Parish (tel. 441/236-5235). All locations are open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm. Rentals require a $20 deposit.
Eve's Cycle Livery, 114 Middle Rd., Paget Parish (tel. 441/236-6247), rents a variety of scooters; they cost $42 to $60 for the first day, and $181 to $250 for 7 days, depending on the model, with successively lower prices for each additional day.Related to:
- Road Trip
Obtaining a Taxi is relatively easy from the dock since they are lined up waiting. At the information desk they have a listing of Txi rates along with how much fares should be from one point to the next. This saves you time haggling over taxi fare with drivers later.
Arrival Via Cruise Ship
My wife Liz and I hopped aboard the The Caribbean Princess for a nine day Caribbean Cruise out of Brooklyn along with my Mother and her fiancee Hal. The Cruise Ports includes stops at: Bermuda, San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. I was a nice nine day cruise with beautiful weather except for San Juan and a great ship.
Princess likes to give the big ship feeling without it being overwhelming which is hard to do when the ship can accomodate 3,070 passengers. Princess managed to give us a relaxing cruise where we didn't feel rushed. The ship was very nice with 4 pools, several restaurants, a spa, various lounges and clubs, shopping and more. The Piazza area was their version of a centrum through the middle of the ship with retail , dining rooms, clubs and bars surrounding the area. The staff aboard were very nice and attentive. I enjoyed that this line attracts an "older crowd", less children and less of the party puking variety twenty somethings that other cruise lines tend to cater to.
We chose this cruise in particular due to the time of year and my Mother's work schedule. Since we have Elite status on this cruise line we enjoyed priority boarding and access to special lounges, free laundry services, free internet, discount coupons, free wine tastings, special captain's events and a 10% discount on shop purchases aboard the ship.
The shows and entertainment were great fun and we enjoyed the Movies Under the Stars. The food in the dining room is not as good as Royal Caribbean in our opinion but there were several nights that "Wowed" me. We did like that there were plenty of quick food options such as burgers, hot dogs, pizzas, sandwiches and pastries that were not from the buffet. The drink selection and prices were very good and we enjoyed the variety of themed lounges as well as pool bars.
This was a great cruise and we were very happy to sail Princess. We look forward to our next cruise with them which we have already booked while onboard.
Bus travel in Bermuda
Bermuda has one of the best public transportation systems. During my stay, I rode the bus to see most of the island. It is very easy.
I bought a two-day bus pass for about $12.00 or so. You can buy passes for however many days you need and montly passes are also available. You can also purchase tokens, and I think you can pay the driver directly; however, it must be the exact amount. They won't give you change. I chose to purchase the pass because it was much simplier. You can purchase passes at several places. I was staying in St. George and got mine from a liquor store. Another advantage of the bus pass is that you can also take the ferry.
If you want to go anywhere in Bermuda by bus you most likely have to go into Hamilton first, where the central bus terminal is located. Then, you'll have to get on another bus that will take you to your destination. There are about 11 routes and the buses are numbered by route. I grabbed a bus route schedule from the tourist information center in St. George, and it really helped. Keep in mind too, that the bus schedule changes on weekends and holidays. Instead of waiting 15 minutes for the next bus like you would during the week, you may be waiting for an hour or so on a Sunday.
If you need to catch the bus outside of Hamilton, just wait at the poles. The pink poles are stops that are going toward Hamilton. The blue poles are stops that are heading away from Hamilton. They will be on opposite sides of the road. If you need to get off the bus, just push the little button on the window and the driver will stop at the next stop and let you off. The drivers are very helpful and will let you know where your stop is, if you just ask them.
It's very easy...If I can do it, anyone can!Related to:
- Budget Travel
Scooters and Cycles
As I've already mentioned, you cannot, as a tourist, rent an automobile in Bermuda. However, there are a zillion motorscooters (the locals call them cycles) for rent. Quite honestly, it seems as if there is a rental agency on every other corner.
From what I saw, price-wise, there isn't a lot of competition...I think they've just all agreed to charge the same high rates. :) Generally, a one person cycle costs something like $50 for the first day, and progressively less for subsequent days. Two person scooters (deluxe) cost more. There's usually an additional deposit, and in many cases, the standard insurance does NOT cover theft...which I'm told DOES occur. It's one of those "bring your lawyer with you to Bermuda things", I guess.
Quite honestly, ::I:: think the biggest issue with renting a scooter would be telling it apart from all the OTHER rented scooters. It may be like what you do with your suitcase at the airport baggage claim... tie a ribbon around it or something. :)
SUPPOSEDLY, the cycle rental agencies give instructions to renters. But, let's just say that a "final exam" is not included. I saw a lady running all OVER a road over in St. George. She was screaming with both hands in the air as the cycle took off, veering right in front of a large truck and then coming to a stop on a grassy knoll. Good thing she had those riding instructions. As for safety, I think it's required that you wear a helmet on motorcycles. This is so that the mortician will not have to spend a lot of time making your face presentable for your funeral, after you're killed riding the bike.
OK, I'm being funny, but I'm not entirely kidding either....
One or two horsepower transportation
If you'd like to enjoy a more relaxing "tour" around Hamilton, the Dockyards or around St. George, you might want to try the horse-drawn carriage. The cost for doing so is $30 per half hour, for 1-4 riders. After that, there are various surcharges if you try to take your entire sewing club in one carriage. :)
The best place to catch the carriages in Hamilton is on Front Street, just to the east of the #1 cruise ship terminal. As for the Dockyards, you can catch them over near Dockyards ferry stop. As for St. George, I'm sorry... I'm not sure where "the barn" is. I'm sure the locals will point you in the right direction.
Oh, and if your carriage is pulled by TWO horses, it costs something like $5 more... I guess both horses have to eat...and it's expensive eating out in Bermuda.
To Bermuda by air
A number of carriers service Bermuda's Kindley Field/L. F. Wade International Airport. Kindley Field is what remains of the US Air Force presence in Bermuda, which ended in 1995. Begun in 1941 as WWII was spreading, the American Air Force and Navy spent some 50 years in the islands, and the relationship is pretty much considered positive universally among the locals. Kindley Field was actually build from reclaimed land, and when it was completed, approx 1.5 square miles had been added to Bermuda's land mass. On a personal note, Kindley Air Force Base is where my father served during our Bermuda stay, and it's where my younger brother was born.
Most air carriers servicing Kindley are US-based, serving the island from the American mainland. However, AirCanada and British Airlines offer service to and from Bermuda as well. Unlike almost any other airport in the world, Kindley field is ONLY an international airport. Bermuda has no scheduled domestic air service. (Island's only 20 miles long!)
Kindley/L. F. Wade Airport itself is a relaxed and quite peaceful little facility...no jetways here, folks. This is a place where you emerge from your silver bird into the subtropical air and the scent of oleander. And, you might even hear the whistle of tree frogs if you land in the late afternoon. Immigration is a pretty simple issue, you'll just have your Bermuda visitors forms (one for each person) to show, along with your passport, to HM Customs.
Airfares to and from Bermuda are seldom a bargain, because there are few "same market" competitions... If you are looking for the best possible bargain, I'd suggest trying to hook up with Jet Blue in NYC.
Among the carriers serving Kindley/Bermuda (airport code BDA if you're checking fares online) are:
American (service from Chicago and Miami)
USAir (service from Charlotte.... we flew USAir)
Delta (service from Atlanta)
Continental (service from Newark/NYC area)
Jet Blue (service from JFK/NYC)
AirCanada (service from Toronto)
British Airlines (service from London)
Ferry 'round the island
Buses carry the lion's share of public transport in Bermuda. I've already discussed them in the previous tip. Another public transportation option is the ferry system, which provides transport from Hamilton Ferry terminal (right downtown on Front Street at the Harbor) to the east (St. George) and west (Dockyards) ends of the island. There is also a short ferry service from Hamilton to the small docks over in Warwick and Paget's parishes.
The ferry lines are as follows:
BLUE ROUTE : Hamilton-West End-Dockyard
ORANGE ROUTE: Hamilton-Dockyard-St. George
GREEN ROUTE : Hamilton-Rockaway-Somerset Bridge
You can get a ferry schedule at the ferry terminal, or by going to www.seaexpress.bm. For the tourist, the most useful ferries run from Hamilton to the Dockyards area (sometimes via Watford Bridge/West End). Another ferry goes to St. Georges, after a stop at Dockyards. (That's a great one for an hour long "north shore cruise" of Bermuda) The ferries are clean and comfortable. The larger ones have an air-conditioned bottom cabin, if you're feeling a bit heat-weary. But for my ride, I prefer sitting on top. If the sun is heavy, you can get under the awning, but I do enjoy the sea breeze.
Also, if you've rented one of those death scooters to ride, you can bring them onto the ferry. You'll be parking them up front, and as far as I could see, there is no additional charge.
The ferry is a heck of a lot faster from Hamilton to Dockyards than the bus. A bus will take almost an hour. The ferry can get there in 20 minutes if direct...30 minutes if you take the one that stops at Watford Bridge first. For St. Georges, the bus is probably faster, time-wise. But again, the ferry ride is picturesque and much more relaxing. It may be your only good chance to look over the entire north side of Bermuda, the part of the island not as well-suited to beaches and swimming.
Note, CASH is not accepted on the ferries. You must either use a transportation pass or purchase a ticket for your ferry passage at the dock/terminal.
Within towns like Hamilton or St. George, or even for short journies such as Flatts Village to Devils Hole, etc., I'd suggest just walking. Distances in Bermuda are so short, when compared to almost anywhere else. Again, from one end of the island to the other is only 20 miles total. (not recommending that you walk THAT, but a 6-8 km walk from Hamilton to Crystal Caves or the Aquarium isn't that bad. Then again, I like walking.
Remember, traffic drives on the left. Remember this when you cross roads... be sure to look in the correct direction first. :)
And, walk on the side facing into traffic, and if there is not a sidewalk, as is often the case, be sure to get out far enough for oncoming vehicles to get an early peek at you as they come around a blind corner. Speed limit in Bermuda is 35 km, and most obey it... other than the bus drivers that is.
Taxis from the airport, or after hours
There is a huge supply of taxi cabs for hire in Bermuda. Most are the small mini-van type of vehicle, a cornucopia of small Suzukis, Nissan, VW, and Toyota models often not seen in the USA. Our friends who owned Kingston House B&B call them "BOWs", meaning "box on wheels".
Taxis aren't cheap, but they're the best plan in traveling to and from Kindley Field. From Kindley to Hamilton is usually about $30. I suppose if you were staying in one of the snooty beachfront hotels on the south shore, it could run $50 from the airport.
Taxis are also an option if you find yourself at Dockyards or St. Georges later in the evening on a Sunday evening, and perhaps the ferry or bus service has ceased, or is so infrequent as to be an hour or more in coming.
I didn't actually see anyone hail a cab on a street, but I understand that it can be done, NYC style. Just raise your hand and motion.
Most cabbies are pretty darned friendly, especially if you'll put up with listening to his own personal CD of steel drum music he wrote and recorded. :)
There are a lot of cab services in the phone book, I'd suggest asking your hosts or concierge for advice on who is most reliable. AND, for your return flight, ALWAYs assume that the cab may be 15 minutes late in arriving. It's kind of "Bermuda Time", as they say.
Pink Pole or Blue Pole... pick your bus.
The Bermuda bus service is relatively efficient and reliable. It's comfortable unless you happen to get the occasional coach with an air conditioning problem. And, it's reasonably cheap.
Bermuda is actually divided up into 14 "zones", and we never really paid much attention to them, because we bought transportation passes, good for unlimited passage for seven days. If you do, however, choose to do single trips and pay-as-you-go, the cost is $3 IN COINS for shorter trips, or $4 in COINS for longer trips. (depends on the zones) Transfers are free, so long as you take the next transferring bus. Again, that's all kind of complicated. My advice is to purchase a transportation pass for use on the Bermuda buses (and on the ferries). Seven days for an adult is $45. They also sell one, two and three day passes. You can buy them at the airport, or downtown in Hamilton at the main bus terminal. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON BUS AND FERRY TRANSPORTATION PASSES, PLEASE SEE MY GENERAL TIP ON THE SUBJECT.
As for the buses themselves, pick yourself up a route map at the main terminal. There are about 11 lines, and they all go from Hamilton to somewhere and back. In ancient tkimes, they say all roads led to Rome. Well in 21st century Bermuda, all buses lead to and from Hamilton.
All bus stops have a "pole" that's either dark blue or pink. (Now a warning, some bus stops are nothing BUT a pole by the road) If the pole is pink, that bus is traveling towards Hamilton. If the pole is blue, the bus is headed to its ultimate destination away from Hamilton. And all of the "blue buses" list their destinaton on the front of the bus.
Bus drivers are very accomodating, so long as you're friendly to them. Always say good day first. But then, you can certainly say "does this bus go by the Swizzle Inn or the Aquarium or whatever". If the bus driver answers in the affirmative, just ask him to announce the closest stop and then sit back and relax. In some cases they'll even stop at "non-stops" just to be helpful.
To Bermuda by sea
A number of cruise lines serve Bermuda. While we were there, we saw ships from Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean, to name a couple. There are three major docking facilities in Bermuda, namely
> Hamilton harbor itself, which appears to berth up to two cruise ships. I don't think
Hamilton can handle the "mega" sized ships, but I'm not exactly a sailor. ;)
> Dockyards/West End, which also looks to have room for up to two cruise ships. Dockyards
is the former headquarters of the Royal Navy, during its based time in Bermuda, and the
harbor area is clearly designed for large ships. I suspect that THE largest ships docking
in Bermuda probably go to Dockyards.
> St. George harbor, on the east end, located at the historic (17th century) village of
Depending on the cruise line, you may spend a few hours or perhaps even a couple of days in and around Bermuda. For my tastes, cruising is just not the way to go. I'm not into the crowds and the "disembark and reembark madness" that ensues. I do realize that cruising is often a very affordable alternative, and my college son and his buds love cruising.
I will tell you this... while the Bermuda government clearly loves the ease of simply taxing visitors "by the head", via the cruise industry, the locals are less enthralled. Local studies have shown the visitors who fly into Bermuda clearly spend 10x the amount of money during their stay than do the "boat people". So basically what happens is that tourists arriving by sea help to fill government tax coffers, but have less of an impact on the private local economy than you'd imagine. It's the folks who fly to Bermuda and stay there for a few days that eat in the restaurants, do the bulk of the shopping and visit the local attractions. And if you want my personal opinion, non-cruise visitors learn and enjoy so much more about Bermuda.
But if cruising "shivers your timbers", then Bermuda is a top-drawer destination to consider.
Catch the Waves - Take a Ferry
Lately this services as been improved, even for during the summer months a ferry to leave from St. Georges to Hamilton the heart of the City.. Its a nice leisure way to view the island from the ocean..
There are a two types of ferry services -
The slow ferry - the older ferries that go to all the stops in harbour.
The fast ferry - Goes to all the major stops at the East end of the Island (rockaway, dockyard).
Note: Bus tickets, tokens, and passes can be used on the ferry as fare.
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