Bermuda: the Atlantic island that's always in season
In seven hours, a flight from the UK takes you to the Atlantic archipelago of Bermuda, where you'll find coral reefs, lush mangroves and 18th-century pastel buildings. But it's not just a subtropical climate that makes Bermuda an appealing destination -- you'll also find a calendar full of events to tempt you beyond its powder-soft beaches and clear turquoise waters.
Tickle your tastebuds in winter
When the temperatures drop in the UK, the mercury is still hitting the 20s in Bermuda. Plus the island is abuzz with activity in winter.
Bermuda's annual Restaurants weeks, when top chefs serve up special 2- and 3-course set menus for a fixed price, is held every year from mid January to the first week of February. It's an excellent opportunity to be wowed by Bermuda-inspired dishes -- think fish chowder and codfish -- that highlight the island’s flavourful mix of British, Caribbean, African and Portuguese influences and ingredients at affordable prices.
There are plenty of other annual events taking place at this time of the year, including the Bermuda Festival (January-March), which showcases the performing arts, the Bermuda Marathon Weekend (January), Spa Month (February), a 3-day obstacle race called Triple Challenge (March), and Bermuda Film Festival (March).
Get wet and wild in spring
Spring is the season to take to the water in Bermuda. The migration of over 10,000 humpback whales to their feeding grounds in Canada is in full swing by April. Be sure to book ahead to secure your spot on one of the island's fantastic whale-watching tours, and you'll have a great chance of seeing these majestic 40-ton creatures putting on acrobatic displays above the waves.
Calmer waters at this time of the year also signals the start of sailing season, with many of the boats that have wintered in the Caribbean stopping in Bermuda on the way back to Europe for the summer. A date for your diary is 16 May, when the prize giving-ceremony at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is held for the winner of the annual Antigua Bermuda Race -- a 935-mile competition which sees over 40 yachts departing from Antigua on 8 May for Bermuda.
If you want to stay a bit closer to shore, there are many activities to try your hand at, including paddleboarding. The placid waters of Spanish Point are great for beginners, or you can paddle out from Daniels Head Beach Park to visit the famous Vixen shipwreck, whose bow peeks out above the waves. And don't forget to keep an eye out for turtles.
Celebrate happy hour throughout summer
Beach bonfires, happy hours and cocktail cruises are some of the best ways to make the most of Bermuda's long balmy evenings. Every Wednesday during the summer, head to Hamilton's pretty colonial Front Street for its Harbour Nights festival. Along this waterfront you'll find street food, artisan products, and of course, a dark 'n stormy cocktail or two.
Temperatures on the island usually peak at a pleasant 30 degrees during July and August -- perfect for lazing away the day on one of Bermuda's stunning beaches. The pink sand at Horseshoe Beach is a favourite with locals and tourists alike, as are the clear waters that lap at Tobacco Bay's limestone rock formations. And if the day does get too hot, you can always head underground to the Crystal Caves, where white limestone stalactites hang from the ceiling.
It's also the best time of year to strut your stuff in a pair of colourful Bermuda shorts. Don't worry about getting your legs out -- everyone else on the island will be wearing them, too!
Discover the island's heritage in autumn
The autumn months start with the eagerly awaited spiny lobster season in September, and you'll find plenty of restaurants serving this delicacy across the island. But anyone will agree that the best way to eat this Bermudan treat is a true “sea-to-table” experience -- catch your lobster with local licensed divers and cook it that evening for dinner.
One experience that shouldn't be missed on any Bermuda break is the colourful Gombey dancers, who blend British, African and island traditions in their lively performances. Their peacock-feather headdresses, hand-painted masks, capes, drumming and dancing appear at most festivals, but the spectacular International Gombey Festival happens in October this year -- a wonderful showcase for the island's mixed heritage.
And even as the temperatures dip in December, the Christmas festivities start to ramp up. Nowhere on the island gets into the festive spirit more than the UNESCO World Heritage Town of St George, where you'll find lavishly decorated historic homes (some dating back to the 17th century) open to the public, re-enactors in period garb roaming the candlelit streets and classic carols ringing out from the town square.