While I’m on a blogging roll, here’s my recap of the West End. Oh just thinking back on that ship food as I eat my body weight in rice, it makes me want to swim over there… if only I knew how to do anything other than sink in water.
The West End of Bermuda is more or less a tourist haven because the cruise ships (outside of HAL’s Veendam) all dock at the Royal Navy Dockyard. At the Dockyard, you have the Clocktower Mall, which house many shops that you would find in Hamilton such as A.S. Cooper & Sons Ltd. and Crissons as well as many trinket stores. Basically it’s pretty much the mirrored version of the shops at Hamilton. We were more there to check out the Dockyard’s surrounding scenes rather than shop, but you can definitely shop to your hearts content without really leaving the Dockyard that’s for sure (of course it’s recommended that you do take the opportunity to explore the whole archipelago).
If you’re not into shopping, there are also places where you can enjoy and have a good time. The West End is home to places where you can rent jet skis and boats to sail on. We went to Somerset Bridge Watersports (took the #7 bus) where we rented a 13′ Boston Whaler for the day (~8 hours) to explore the outer edges of the island. Yeah. I don’t know which was more dangerous in retrospect, crossing the road in Bermuda, or flying 3 feet high in deep waters. The latter was more fun, once I got over my fear of death. The day overall was fun, although we had a few hiccups throughout. By the way, if you’re curious to know, when you get off the bus for Somerset Bridge Watersports, you have to cross the smallest drawbridge in Bermuda (and the world).
First of all, if you’re a novice on boating (I say as if after this I turn into some sort of super mariner), the Boston Whalers are pretty simple. Hop in (that’s much easier said than done when it’s bobbing and you have the balancing characteristics of an egg), pull the engine cord and roar off. The owner of the place, Tony, gave us a brief rundown of what to do, what not to do, showed us the map and sent us off on our way. Surprisingly it wasn’t as frightening as I thought it would be. If anyone reads this and goes to rent a whaler, give his guestbook a sign and tell Tony “Mel & J from NYC says hi!”
For the curious, here was the route we had taken:
We started from the West (Somerset) going counterclockwise South towards the Pompano Beach Club, and then went around the HMS Vixen quite a few times, trying to feed the school of fish that hang around there. We were given a loaf of bread which the fishwent crazy for! It was such a sight. The HMS Vixen is also located near a private beach (note: private beaches are legally accessible if you come in via the waters) on the 9 Beaches Resort. One thing that was pretty cool I noticed was that there were these houses on stilts. Sadly, they have been long abandoned but they still looked nice without much degradation.
Then we doubled back and then went through the little inlet Eastward, where we were in the Great Sound where we continued to Hamilton and saw our little ms Veendam docked. Then we looped back Westward where we went around the Royal Navy Dockyard and saw the Carnival Pride docked. Apparently mariners are much more friendlier than motorists as when you pass by other boaters, they will wave to you. Try to see if anyone would wave to you on the expressway! Well, they’ll be waving all right, but not exactly the friendly kind.
The Royal Navy Dockyard / King’s Wharf
To get to the Dockyard, we took the Blue ferry one morning from Hamilton to the Dockyard. Took about 20 minutes, and a Zone 14 ticket. It was such a smooth ferry ride, definitely was a 180 (from the whaler experience).
Some sights to keep in mind at the Dockyard (outside of all the tourist traps):
- The Bermuda Arts Centre – if you luck out, you may be able to get a photo op with the resident cat (when we were there, it was sleeping 😦 )
- Dockyard prison – a prison used to be onsite to hold convicts at the dockyard, not in use anymore
- The Bermuda Craft Market – great area for some beautiful art made by local artists (a bit pricey though)
- The Frog and Onion Pub – you can see lots of tourists grabbing a bite here
- Glass beach – like its name, it’s a beach full of flat glass pieces (free and legal to take back onto ships with no limit on weight, unless you’re flying afterwards)
- Bermuda Rum Cake Company/Dockyard Glassworks – Both located in the same building, you can enjoy samples of the various styles of rum cakes (banana rum, chocolate rum, regular rum…) and take in the talent that create all these beautiful glass-blown pieces.
Next up – The South (pink) Beaches of Bermuda and the ms Veendam!