Bermuda was originally discovered in 1506 by a Spanish sailor by the name of Juan de Bermudez, but was not claimed or settled. The British were the first to claim the chain of islands in 1609 and colonize it. For the next two hundred years, the colony thrived on an interchange of agricultural production of tobacco, the logging of cedars, shipbuilding, salt trading, and whaling. During the Civil War, Bermuda was used by the Confederates to evade the blockades of the Union and bring goods and supplies to the South from England. Since the early 20th century, Bermuda has turned its attention to tourism. The main issue facing Bermuda these days concern independence. The island chain was granted self-government in 1968, although not over its foreign policy and control of defense. Debate persists over whether Bermuda should choose full independence with the majority of residents opposing it. This is not surprising, as Bermudans to this day, despite being thousands of miles away from the UK, still retain a strong sense of British customs and culture in their everyday life.
Bermuda’s claim to fame is its pink beaches and beautiful turquoise waters. It is also known as the “Shipwreck capital of the Atlantic”. In addition to the beautiful coral reefs and abundant underwater marine life – home to more than 650 fish species – there are also over 400 historic wrecks that date as far back as the 15th century. And the underwater visibility in Bermuda is among the best in the world. All this adds up to some of the world’s best scuba diving and snorkeling spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage designated St. Georges, where the waters are shallow at around 35 feet yet teem with coral reefs and shipwrecks. Some of the centuries-old sunken ships you can explore include the Apollo, Blanche King, Caraquet, Constellation, and Cristobal Colon.
Because no point on Bermuda is ever more than a half-mile away from the sea, water activities and aquatic adventures also define the tourist experience. Boating, parasailing, water-skiing, and deep-sea fishing are particularly popular. Bermuda is, in fact, one of the premiere boating destinations, and hosts major boating events every year like the Newport to Bermuda Ocean Yacht Race and the Bermuda Ocean Race.
Ecotourism is also a big deal in Bermuda. There are crystal caves and underground caverns with stalactites, stalagmites and saltwater pools that can be explored. There are also lush nature reserves that nurture more than 360 species of birds, 4500 marine creatures, and 1,000 plant varieties.
Perhaps Bermuda’s most popular attraction is the Bermuda Maritime Museum, set in a six-acre fortress near the Royal Naval Dockyard. You’ll find eight historic buildings, including the restored Commissioner’s House and several old munitions warehouses. The museum retraces and illustrates the naval history of Bermuda.
Golfing is also a major draw for many of the well-to-do who visit. Bermuda is actually host to the season-ending PGA Grand Slam of Golf on Atlantic Island at the Mid Ocean Club and the Fairmont Southampton. In total, there are eight championship golf courses in Bermuda set amid stunning ocean views and breathtaking island scenery – all designed by famous golfing architects like Robert Trent Jones.