Fashion StatementSteve MacNaullBy Steve MacNaull

You have to admire a place that's famous for shorts. That's right – men's short pants.

Bermuda – the exotic pink sand island – even features a pair of pink shorts in its official logo. These pink shorts have to be worn in the most fashion-flummoxing way: two inches above the knee with dark knee socks, dress shoes, light-short sleeved shirt, pink tie and dark blazer. Straw hat is optional. It's a throwback to the island's old military uniform.

“I like the look,” said Peter Kyle, the Bermuda-born of Scottish of the Fairmont Southampton Resort, which is by no coincidence a nine-storey pink palace. “It’s my work uniform and the colours can change up everyday. Lucky for you, I wore the pink shorts today.”

Of course, there's more to a holiday in Bermuda than starring at men's knee caps. There are  famous pink sand beaches, homes painted pink and other pastels, 400 years of history and a vibe of tropical paradise with British overtones.

This British colony has a unique location 800 kilometres off the coast of South Carolina in the warming Gulf Stream of the Atlantic Ocean. The 40 kilometre long fish hook-shaped formation of islands has Caribbean-like weather and flavour, but is really in a world of its own.

“Bermuda is one-of-a-kind,” said Rehanna Palumbo, the director of sales at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, another pink palace in the capital of Hamilton. “The word of our prime location is out and that we’re only a two-hour plane ride from Halifax and two-and-a-half hour plane ride from Toronto. People love to come here and experience our colony of pastel colours in the tropics.”

On a recent trip, my wife and I took advantage of Fairmont’s stay-at-one play-at-two option by taking the free ferry shuttle between the Southampton Resort and Hamilton Princess Hotel to use each property’s pools, beaches, restaurants and amenities.

While Bermuda is a year-round destination for Canadians, most visit to escape cold winters for island beaches. With over 100 kilometres of coastline Bermuda delivers – and with a pink hue.

Horseshoe Bay Beach is the island’s most popular for its postcard perfect crescent shape and pink sand – so coloured by the surf pulverizing pink coral and depositing it powder-soft and on the shore.

Secluded BeachSteve MacNaullWhile Horseshoe can be crowded with tourists, a short stroll along the coast around some rocks rewards with Chaplin Bay and Stonehole Bay beaches, which you might very well have to yourself, even in high season.

Speaking of secluded beaches, on a tip-to-tip tour of the island (three hours in a taxi) we discovered the northeast stretches of pink sand at Shelly Bay, Tobacco Bay and Gates Bay. When we asked our driver Mickey Simmons why we had these idyllic places virtually to ourselves he explained that Saturday is for watching cricket rival matches – in this case Bailey’s vs. St. David’s – and family picnics. Family picnics tend to be held in parks where the warm ocean meets black rock.

“Locals like swimming off the rocks. Sand’s messy,” said Simmons.

Simmons also had an opinion on the Bermuda Triangle – the swath of ocean where small planes and ships can vanish without a trace.

“We don't believe in it,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Every foreigner asks about it. I don’t think there’s anything sinister. Ships can wreck in our rocky waters.”

Simmons also took us to St. George’s – the UNESCO World Heritage site – where survivors from a shipwreck settled in 1609. St. George’s is a cluster of pastel coloured homes and shops around King’s Square and St. Peter’s, the oldest Anglican church in the Western Hemisphere dating back to 1612.

A stop at The Swizzle Inn – either the original close to the airport or the second location in Warwick Parish – is mandatory. It hits the marriage of Bermudian restaurant and British pub perfectly. It’s also the inventor of the Swizzle – a mix of amber and black rums, triple sec liqueur, orange and pineapple juices and bitters. In terms of popularity and fame the Swizzle rivals Bermuda’s official drink – the Dark and Stormy, a concoction of black rum and ginger beer with lime garnish.

Seafood is naturally the island’s specialty with the official national dish being sauteed rockfish in chili gombey jam. It’s on the menu at virtually every restaurant in Bermuda including the upscale Waterlot Inn at the Fairmont Southampton and Harley’s at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.

There are so many ways to get out on Bermuda's multi-coloured waters. The public ferry is cheap and efficient and is just as good as a sightseeing vehicle as it is a form of transportation.

Making friendsGreg HartleyBermuda is the birthplace of helmet driving, so my wife and I had to try it.

Bronson Hartley introduced walking on the ocean floor with a headpiece attached to an air hose in 1947. Today his son Greg and his grandson Ben operate Hartley’s Undersea Walk and take tourists two miles from shore to a coral reef. The Hartleys have made friends with the fish by feeding them, so the underwater jaunt can include patting a hogfish named Charles (after the prince), a grouper called Barack (yes, after the American president) and watch an angel fish named Diana (after the late princess) swim though a hoop.

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For more information on Bermuda, visit www.bermudatourism.com
 

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