While much of Bermuda is buffeted by offshore reef (check the bombie breaking in the background), on big swells some rippable lines can push through to the inside breaks. Gabe Kling.
There’s more than plaid shorts and triangles here.
Words and photos by Ryan Miller
Where: Bermuda is that lonely island off the East Coast of the U.S., all by herself with no nearby neighbors to party with, and conveniently in the path of the Atlantic Ocean’s gulf stream. Halifax, Nova Scotia is 900 miles to the north, Charleston, South Carolina is 900 miles to the west, and San Juan, Puerto Rico is 900 miles to the south.
What: Bermuda is the oldest and most populous remaining British overseas territory. It boasts a subtropical climate, pink-sand beaches, and a crystal-clear blue ocean. As of 2005, Bermuda had the world’s highest GDP (gross domestic product) per capita ($76,403) and is an island getaway for the über-rich, perhaps because it’s just a short flight away from all major East Coast cities. The pint-sized island is 22 miles long and only two miles wide at the widest point, but there are plenty of nooks and crannies to be explored in the coastline.
When: East Coast hurricane season is prime time; August through October is the most consistent period. The best way to attack it is if you see a promising hurricane forming off Africa, then pack your bags and jump on a flight, because Bermuda’s south coast will be getting hammered. The north coast can get small clean swells in the wintertime as well. Just remember to get the hell out of there if a Category Five puts the tiny island in its crosshairs.
It may not be a freight train like J-Bay, but J-Bay ain’t sporting dreamy topaz and aquamarine water scapes.
Why: How many times have you looked at the hurricane charts and seen Bermuda right in the perfect swell window? And who isn’t tired of surfing with a few hundred of your favorite bros at S-turns every hurricane swell? Bermuda has maybe a dozen locals and they are all willing to share their spot and a bottle of rum with a smile. While it certainly can be fickle and is far from a sure thing, it’s less than a two-hour flight from most East Coast airports (seeing that you don’t get lost in the triangle), which is probably closer than driving to your local hurricane season secret spot.
Bermuda may not be the most consistent Atlantic destination, but it’s a great place to pick up an East Coast sugar mama and just maybe get a few lip hits in, too. Brian Toth.
How: Most major East Coast airports have direct flights for less than $500. Once there, transportation is half the fun because there are no rental cars; you have to book a scooter. But at $10 a gallon for gas, a scooter is the best bet regardless. Carry your board under your left arm with the leash strapped over your shoulder or sit on it sideways like an airplane wing. Whatever method you attempt, it will be awkward the first few rides, so try not to end up in the hospital.
Places to stay: Unless you are boys with Ross Perot and he’ll let you stay at his vacation house, you’re going to need a credit card with a high limit. One-hundred dollars per person per night is the bottom end for a room. There are no campgrounds or youth hostels in Bermuda. A family-run guesthouse is a good alternative, and most will have kitchens so you can save on food costs. Anywhere on the south coast will do, the island is so small it’s quick to get to most spots. However, big warning: Don’t show up without a reservation, as the customs officer will send you packing on the next plane home.
Places to eat: If you booked a room with a kitchen, then you’re set because, like everything else except the waves themselves, food is crazy expensive in Bermuda. Try twenty dollars for a cheeseburger and fries for lunch. You might just fall in love with tuna fish and PB and Js all over again. It’s definitely worth breaking the piggy bank for a meal or two though, since it’s right in the middle of the Gulf Stream the seafood doesn’t get any fresher or better.
Dudes and babes: Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones live here, so you know they’re going to have some good-looking friends. If you’re looking for a smoking hot wife, then head to northern Europe; but if you’re looking for a smoking hot wife with a black Amex card, then Bermuda is your spot. Head into Hamilton on Friday night and show off your dance moves in the bars above Front Street.
Crowd factor: You could very well be the only person surfing in the whole country on any given day. If you do run into any of the dozen or so friendly locals, they will surely point you in the right direction.
Stuff to bring: Since most of Bermuda has a barrier reef that acts as a swell buffer, the surf doesn’t get giant, so big boards aren’t really needed, just a high-performance board or two. Bring extra fins, a ding repair kit, and wax, as there are no surf shops. Trunks should be all you need during hurricane season, as it’s a bit warmer here than the U.S. waters along the same latitude. Definitely bring your snorkeling gear, as the diving is world-class off Bermuda and just might be better than the surf. A pair of leather chaps might be a good call as well, to help you avoid getting road rash from your scooter!
If the surf is flat: There’s definitely a laid-back vibe here; after all, this is the birthplace of the Bermuda shorts. Kick back on a warm, pink-sand beach with a rum swizzle in your hand and enjoy the view. If your mind starts wondering and your ADD kicks in, then grab your dive gear and check out the reefs—you may just stumble across a vessel that went missing in this northeast corner of the Bermuda Triangle. You could also sell off your first born for a fishing trip; it just might be worth it when you’re reeling in a thousand-pound blue marlin.
More information: Lonely Planet prints a solid guidebook for Bermuda or you can shred the net for a wealth of info. Surfmaps.com has a decent map of the country with all the spots listed. Pick up a trashy mystery novel about the Bermuda Triangle to scare you silly before boarding your flight home.
Brett Barley takes it to the shore dump.