This article was originally published on AskMen.
As far as tropical destinations go, Bermuda is tough to beat. It's renowned for its pink sand beaches, world-class golf courses, crystal blue waters and its warm, inviting island culture. So why is tourism down? My guess is that travelers looking to escape from an oppressive winter have been taught to embrace the affordable all-inclusive options of places like Cancun.
Bermuda is not cheap, but it is worth experiencing. It's a bucket list destination for even the most jaded traveler. One way to manage the cost is to go for a shorter, adrenaline-packed adventure, instead of a 10-day long sun-soak. That's what I did with the support of the Bermuda Tourism Authority -- and it was undoubtedly one of the most exciting trips I've ever been on, despite the action being confined to 72 hours (which, for budget travelers, means fewer nights in a hotel, one of the single biggest costs of a vacation.)
Here's what three days in Bermuda should look like:
Mountain biking from Gibbs Lighthouse to the Royal Naval Dockyard along the Old Railway Trail. There's no better way to get a taste of the variety of landscapes Bermuda offers than with a 12-mile bike ride past beach coastlines featuring pink sands and crystal blue waters, up to old, abandoned military forts and through the pastel-colored, soccer flag-draped houses.
My must-have accessory: Sunscreen. If you're of Irish descent like me, you'll want nothing less than SPF 50 -- trust me! And you'll want to re-apply it regularly since you will undoubtedly work up a sweat pedaling along this trail. Coppertone makes a nice oil-free lotion that doesn't have that awful sunscreen smell that gets in to your clothes. After making the mistake of not wearing sunscreen on my first day in Bermuda, it's safe to say that reapplying a solid SPF 50 kept me from going full lobster by the end of my trip.
$7.89 at Amazon.com
Flyboarding. Watching Avengers: Age of Ultron in IMAX 3D is one thing. Playing Iron Man on the water thanks to the latest water-based boarding trend will get your heart pumping in a way that all the superhero visual effects in the world never will. And while it certainly looks intimidating, it's easier than it looks and the first time you find yourself propelled out of the water on 400 pounds of pressure exploding from your feet, you'll be screaming with adrenaline-induced joy.
My must-have accessory: United By Blue Stillwater boardshorts. Bermuda's the kind of place where you'll be justifiably tempted to rock a pair of boardshorts from the time you get off the plane to the time you check out. UBB uses a blend of recycled polyester and spandex to give you a little stretch, ensuring they're comfortable and quick-drying which is key if you want to go from rising out of the water on a flyboard to grabbing a burger at the nearby Woody's Restaurant without having to change first.
$63.95 at Amazon.com
Sail to the City of Hamilton. Bermuda has a rich tradition of sailing, and with the America's Cup set to take place there in 2017, Bermuda's waters will soon be peppered with thousands of seafaring vessels. Even if sailing's not your thing (and it's certainly not mine), you owe it to yourself to get out on the water and admire the determination and skill it takes just to get from one harbor to the other. Most Bermudians will also tell you that a sailboat is the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B. After nearly losing my lunch, I'll personally stick to the winding roads, but those with a better constitution can easily save some time using sails to get around.
My must-have accessory: Filson Waterproof Backpack. Sailboats sway from side to side and take on tons of water. This bag is not only totally waterproof, but if you seal in enough air, it'll actually float! This Filson bag saved my ass more than once with its huge storage capacity, thick skin and by ensuring that my iPhone and cameras stayed safe no matter how many times I doused it with seawater.
$125 at NeedSupply.com
Mopeds. The winding roads of Bermuda are best navigated on a moped. One well-heeded piece of advice I was given almost immediately by the cab driver who picked me up at the airport was: Don't look behind you. People will slow down behind you and wait until it's safe to pass. It's a completely different mentality to adopt when you come from a big city populated with road-ragers, but in Bermuda, cruising along in a moped is just another chilled-out experience.
My must-have accessory: Knockaround sunglasses. You don't want compromised vision when you're driving on the wrong side of the road! These matte black Fort Knocks shades make use of a classic design, but more importantly, polarized lenses that reduce the glare coming off other vehicles and all the bodies of water you'll be winding past. And unlike similarly designed Oakley Frogskins, Knockarounds have flexible arms that won't snap off.
$36 at Huckberry.com
Paget Island Outward Bound Zipline & High Ropes Course. Visiting the picturesque Paget Island is a must, and if you want to see how brave you are, take a detour at this high ropes course. Despite being totally safe thanks to the trained professionals who'll suit you up in appropriate harnesses, climbing a 30-foot pole before performing a leap of faith to a swinging trapeze, or trying to keep your balance while attempting a 45-foot-high catwalk is enough to have you engaged in a battle of mind over matter. Every natural instinct will scream at you to climb back down -- but forcing yourself forwards will give you a sense of achievement unlike anything else.
My must-have accessory: GoPro Hero 4. The best way to explain the fear you'll feel doing some of these courses is to show them with a POV shot -- and no one does first-person footage like GoPro. The new Hero 4 finally adds a standard LCD screen, so you're not doing any guesswork about what kind of shot you're getting and you'll want to bring a ton of accessories. At the very least, you'll want the headmount strap and the Threeway selfie-stick/tripod.
$499.99 at Amazon.com
Paddleboarding from Paget Island to St. George. You'll probably be in the mood for a slightly less extreme activity after all that flyboarding and ziplining, which is where a paddleboarding lesson might come in handy. Paddleboards are pretty stable and easy to get the hang of -- far easier to master than surfing or kiteboarding, and it'll give you plenty of opportunity to soak in the surrounding sights of shipwrecks and the white rooftops that populate the St. George community.
My must-have accessory: Swatch Irony X-Lite Go Climb watch. It may tell you to go climb in its name, but this timepiece held up just fine on the water. I fell off my paddleboard several times, and this watch survived despite being advertised as water-resistant and not waterproof. I wouldn't recommend taking it snorkeling or scuba-diving, but it's a great watch for pretty much anything else you might end up doing in Bermuda.
$120 at Swatch.com
Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. You may not have gone to Bermuda to experience an art gallery, but you're doing yourself and the islands a huge injustice if you don't make time to stop in at Masterworks. Featuring Bermudian-inspired art from heavy hitters like Georgia O'Keefe and Winslow Homer, you'll quickly be impressed with Bermuda's influence on the some history's most prominent artists. Be sure to go on a day when Tom Butterfield is there to give you a tour. His devotion to the Bermuda art scene is evidenced by his impassioned tours -- and has earned him an MBE from Queen Elizabeth herself.
My must-have accessory: Mod Tablet Mini from This Is Ground. Not only will you want this to store your iPad and travel documents, you will be given materials from Masterworks -- and you'll probably want to take notes so you can drop some interesting trivia bombs on your friends when you get home.
$199 at Huckberry.com
Getting Swizzled At The Swizzle Inn. Bermuda's signature cocktail is the Rum Swizzle so you're best off heading straight to the source to experience it. The Swizzle Inn is Bermuda's oldest and arguably most famous pub. Built in a 17th century roadhouse, The Swizzle Inn oozes with history. Be sure to check out the visitor books, which date all the way back to 1942 -- and if you can wrangle the gregarious proprietor, Jay Correia, ask him to tell you about the night John Lennon left Yoko Ono high and dry while getting swizzled at this storied Inn.
My must-have accessory: Topo Designs Tote. Sounds strange, but if you get swizzled like I did, you'll be grateful for a tote bag full of aspirin, mouthwash and deodorant.
$28.98 at Huckberry.com
Drinks and appetizers at Devil's Isle Pub. We haven't talked whole lot about the delectable food you'll wrap your lips around in Bermuda, but stopping at the Devil's Isle Pub for some cocktails and apps is a must. This pub is the perfect place for a couple to reflect on their vacations by candlelight or for a larger group to spend a final evening downing bacon-infused-vodka Bloody Marys, as we did. And while the seafood options are plentiful in Bermuda, you haven't lived until you've tried Devil's Isle's octopus and chorizo sausage appetizer, which literally stopped a conversation in its tracks while I savored every bite.
My must-have accessory: Frank & Oak Newport Chinos. You've been dressed like a surfer the whole time, so why not go slightly more formal for a final evening out? These incredibly comfortable chinos are versatile enough to work with a T-shirt and flip-flops or a more button-down ensemble. The Bering Sea colored pants I wore were more than appropriate for daytime mopeding, as well as a night out on the town.
$55 at FrankAndOak.com
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