“He’s rather big isn’t he? I’m only a beginner,” my stomach was doing nervous flips as I eyed the giant beast in front of me.
“Don’t worry,” said my guide in her Caribbean/American/English-cross drawl distinctive to Bermudians, “Gypsy can do this trail with her eyes closed.”
But can I, I thought, fearful to look down from this great height.
We were about to embark on a horse ride on the beach with Spicelands riding school but first we had to get there. This was only my second time ever on a horse and I wasn’t quite confident in my skills to steer Gypsy where I wanted her to go. But I needn’t have feared, as soon as the horse in front set off along the old railway trail towards the coast, Gypsy followed them without any prompting from myself. I just had to focus on staying upright.
After ducking and diving from some low hanging branches we emerged from the shade of the trail into brilliant sunshine at the top of a sandy dune. Below us lay Horseshoe bay, a picture perfect crescent of white sand on Bermuda’s south coast.
The south shoreline of Bermuda, itself made up of 191 islands, is studded with idyllic beaches. In November, when I visited, they were blissfully bereft of people as the locals tend to only swim from May to August, even though it was 24 degrees and sunny on this ‘winter’ day.
We were staying on this coastline in a peach coloured resort called The Reefs. Perched on the rocks overlooking the ocean, The Reefs comes with complimentary draw dropping views of the sunset, and their infinity pool and toasty hot tub swiftly became my favourite places in the world to watch it.
The Reefs is within walking distance to Horseshoe Bay where we rode on our first morning, as is the Fairmont Southampton, which is virtually next door. We paid a visit to the Fairmont’s private beach at 6.30am one morning to practise yoga with Susie as the sun began to rise. Susie took us through our poses and planks, all the while proving to me there can be no better way to start a day than with an empty beach, a blue sky slowly illuminated by a brilliant sun, and some invigorating exercises. She finished our class with a reading about perspective that we all thought very apt, and then I claimed the award for the sandiest participant.
Closer to the town of Hamilton you will find the Mandarin Oriental’s offering for the island – a resort called Elbow Beach. Their beach chalets may look like typical Bermuda homes on the outside but feel very Mandarin Oriental on the inside. At the hotel’s private beach groundsmen diligently swept the sand of seaweed dragged up by recent rough waters; in summer time they take guests on snorkelling tours of the shipwrecks found in the reefs just off shore.
My favourite type of activity, however, is visiting the spa! At Elbow Beach you don’t just receive a spa treatment – each guest is treated to his or her own spa suite. With relaxation areas, roll top baths and balconies overlooking the sea, the individual spa area is somewhere you will want to spend many hours unwinding long after the treatment has ended.
Back at The Reefs I was treated to the best massage I have ever had in their onsite La Serena Spa. Whilst initially perplexed at the offer of a Bamboo Massage (are they going to hit me with sticks I wondered?) it turned out to be a wonderfully relaxing experience. The bamboo sticks are (surprisingly) heated and the therapist uses them to ease out knots and aches from muscles that carry around ridiculously heavy handbags. The post treatment relaxation area is in a floor to ceiling height, curved bay window looking straight out to sea. Left in the couch with a neck warmer and herbal tea, I could have watched the waves there all day.
The Reefs also has its own private beach and a seaside restaurant, which was open for the last few weeks of the season whilst we were there. The positioning of my room meant I could see the ocean from the foot of my bed as soon as I woke each morning. When I discovered the attached terrace I would sit there and watch the ocean every evening (I mistook the patio door for a large window – lesson learnt.)
Another of Bermuda’s most well known beaches, Warwick Long Bay, I unfortunately didn’t have time to visit. Warwick Long Bay is famous for its pink sand formed from the surrounding underwater coral. When Winfield, The Reefs adorable doorman, heard about this news he bought the beach to me. From his car one morning he produced a miniature plastic bottle of perfectly pink sand, then on departure he gifted us a picture book of the island to show where the sand had come from. I couldn’t ask for more than that.
The local’s favourite beach, I learned, is one they have not long had access to. On the far east of the island, past the airport, in an area that until fairly recently was occupied by the US military is Coopers Island, home to Clearwater Beach. Relatively unknown to tourists this spacious beach is a clear hit with the local residents.
I don’t know about you but topping my holiday wish list tends to be beautiful beaches and blissful spas. Bermuda certainly has these in abundance. After just 5 days here I was one very content little lady.
Many thanks to the Bermuda Tourism Board for inviting me to view these stunning beaches and also to Prestige Holidays for getting me there.