The picture-perfect island of Bermuda has a long-standing reputation as an outstanding golf venue so when I received an invitation to play there this spring in the Bacardi National Par-3 Championship I immediately packed up my clubs and booked a flight.

Held at the beautiful Fairmont Southampton resort course, this is an annual, two-day 36-hole Pro-Am tournament that benefits the Bermuda Red Cross.

I was competing in the amateur division- not the Pro line-up – and the entry fee for players like me was $175. Above all else, this tournament taught me a memorable lesson: I clearly fall apart in a tournament environment and should stick to casual golf where the only pressure is keeping the ball in play.

Needless to say, I didn’t win the Bacardi Championship but in my defense I will point out to anyone who thinks all par 3 courses are created equally easy, the Fairmont Southampton track stands alone in terms of challenge. Severe elevation changes, lots of strategically placed bunkers, water hazards and fairways lined with impossibly deep rough are design features that possess the ability to punish pros and amateurs alike. Nevertheless, it’s an exceptional short course on which to warm up before heading off to other renowned island links such as Port Royal, Mid Ocean and Riddell’s Bay—just to name a few of Bermuda’s many fine courses.

In spite of my lack-luster performance on the links, the good news was that I was in beautiful Bermuda for a few days. Known for its renowned pink sand beaches, its distinctly British flavour, charming small towns, pastel-coloured houses and endless entertainment, I dare say no place on the planet rivals it for sheer eye-pleasing perfection.

Lying in the Atlantic Ocean 650 miles off the coast of North Carolina, it was first settled by the British in the early 1600s. Today, with a good network of roads, it’s entirely possible to navigate this 21-sq.-mile island in a mere few hours either in a rental car, popular motor scooter or aboard the island’s famous pink buses that offer inexpensive fares and unlimited transfers. However, a quick drive from tip to tip is not the way to explore Bermuda and experience its many layers of pure pleasure. Some of its attractions are blatantly obvious while others are wonderful finds that should not be missed.

Most Historic

Originally named New London by the British, the Old Town of St. George on the
eastern end of the island was settled in 1612 and many of its early buildings now
house restaurants, pubs and shops. This pretty historic town has been named a
UNESCO World Heritage Site and some of its most popular attractions are replicas of 17th Century wooden stocks and a ducking stool, a device once used to dump gossiping women into the harbour. Another key attraction is pretty St. Peter’s Church, oldest continuously occupied Protestant church in the Western Hemisphere. Former Ottawa resident, The Reverend W. David Raths, has been the Pastor at St. Peter’s for the past six years. He revealed that fate and the search for a posting brought him to Bermuda and, according to him, he plans to stay, saying; “The people are wonderful, the weather is grand and the church is a remarkable gem.”

Must See

The Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute is a $27 million facility designed to give visitors a new understanding and appreciation for the world’s oceans and their diversity of plant and animal life.

This is no ordinary oceanic attraction and it’s arguably one of best family-friendly venues on the island. Some of its features include a shipwreck gallery, a shark cage exhibit, an awesome shell collection, a treasure room of pirate’s booty, and visitors can even take a simulated dive to the depths of the ocean in a state-of-the-art submersible.

Best Shopping

The epi-center for shopping is Bermuda’s capital city of Hamilton where the
resident population numbers approximately 1,000, but during the day when island shop workers make their way into town, numbers rise to about 15,000. In fact, at least 40 percent of the island’s population works in Hamilton. Here, a network of streets flanking Hamilton Harbour is filled with shops selling fine china, crystal, art, British linens, couture fashions, jewellery, island souvenirs and Bermuda’s famous rum.

Must Do

Nobody should visit Bermuda without spending a day at one of its beaches that dot the island’s coastline. Sands vary in colour from soft white to pastel pink and many of them, particularly on the south shore, provide easy access to coral reefs where snorkelling and scuba diving conditions are ideal. Beaches range in size from those in small, protected coves to long stretches of sand for which Bermuda is famous. Traditionally, the swimming season begins in mid May and runs through October but even during the cooler months of November through April, ocean waters remain temperate.

Dining Out

With more than 200 restaurants on the island there is no shortage of good places to dine.

After four straight days of eating out I’ll admit it was almost impossible to pick my favourite spot – but not quite. Of all the meals I enjoyed, both casual and elegant, my pick goes to the Fairmont Southampton’s Bacci restaurant. Located alongside the hotel’s par 3 golf course, the fare here was well beyond what one might expect from a golf club restaurant. Specializing in traditional Italian cuisine, everything I ordered was fresh, delicious and impeccably presented including a starter platter of awesome antipasto. Together with an excellent selection of wines, Bacci rose to the top of my list. I am told that when it opened a few years ago it was the most talked about restaurant on the island. In my opinion, its status has never changed.

Most Fun

A visit to the Swizzle Inn at Bailey’s Bay is an absolute must. This is Bermuda’s oldest operating pub dating back to 1932 and its reputation as a must-visitattraction follows closely behind island beaches.

Fun, funky and a little crazy, the pub specializes (although not exclusively) in Rum Swizzles—Bermuda’s national drink containing a combo of Gosling’s Black Seal and Gold Rum with various juices served in a pitcher and strained into cocktail glasses. Not surprisingly the pub’s motto is “Swizzle Inn – Swagger Out!” Black Seal Rum is also a key ingredient in the other island favourite drink, the Dark’n Stormy.

Travel Planner

More details about Bermuda are available online at or by calling 1-800-223-6106.
Fairmont Southampton information is on the web at Bermuda’s second Fairmont property is the Fairmont Hamilton Princess in downtown Hamilton. Its website is Information on both resort hotels can be obtained by calling 1-800-441-1414.

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