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The Many Faces of Bermuda (PHOTOS)

02/07/2011 08:40 am 08:40:39 | Updated May 25, 2011

Bermuda may be commonly known for its powdery pink sand beaches and British Colonial roots, but there's much more to the mid-Atlantic archipelago than folks zipping around on scooters wearing brightly colored shorts. With two-hour flights from most east coast gateways, Bermuda is an accessible tropical playground for travelers of all kinds, with pleasant year-round weather to boot. But which Bermuda is right for you? -- David LaHuta

See slideshow below.

Hit The Links
With seven championship-caliber courses across 21-square-miles, Bermuda is a golfers paradise. Start your tour at Port Royal, home of the 2011 PGA Grand Slam of Golf and one of the game's greatest holes--the stunning 16th, a cliff-hugging par three with nothing but the turquoise Atlantic between the tee and the pin. At Newstead Belmont Hills Golf Resort & Spa you'll play a challenging 6,100-yard course with multi-tiered greens, narrow fairways and panoramic views of Hamilton Harbor. Re-designed by Robert Trent Jones apprentice Roger Rulewich in 2002, Tucker's Point Golf Course is among the island's finest with dramatic water views from nearly every hole. And for those hoping to test their short game, don't miss the 18-hole executive par three at the Fairmont Southampton on Bermuda's south shore. Tip: Ask your concierge to arrange a tee time at The Mid Ocean Club, the island's most exclusive private course open to non-members on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Just The Guys
Start your adventurous getaway with a SCUBA dive on one of Bermuda's over 300 shipwrecks. Not a certified diver? Even neophytes can explore the island's underwater ecosystem on a trip booked through Bluewater Divers since many wrecks are submerged in only 30 feet of water (like the Constellation, a four-masted schooner that sunk in 1943). When you're ready for lunch grab a table at the Swizzle Inn south shore, a well-worn pub serving burgers, fish sandwiches and potent pitchers of Bermuda rum swizzle. That night hit the City of Hamilton, featuring the majority of Bermuda's nightlife. Outback Sports Bar has 22 high-def televisions, the biggest of which is a whopping 63 inches (perfect to watch the big game); The Pickled Onion is always jammed with locals on Friday and Saturday nights; and for those still hankering for another drink in the wee hours, pop into the recently renovated Café Cairo, a rollicking bar open until 3am nightly.

Girls Night Out
The sun may be shining but it's always a good time to visit the spa. At Tucker's Point Hotel & Spa you'll be pampered from head to toe at its brand new wellness center featuring a secluded outdoor relaxation area plus a full menu of island-inspired treatments (like the Beekeeper No. 5 Honey and Cane Sugar Scrub with honey harvested on site). Staying near Bermuda's west end? Then try the La Serena Spa at The Reefs Hotel & Club, another island newcomer with a bamboo-floored oceanfront sitting room that's perfect at sunset. When the shopping bug hits make a beeline for Hamilton: Cécile features dresses from top designers like Diane Von Furstenburg and Lusso carries leather handbags and couture shoes. For dinner gather the girls around the sushi bar at Pearl, where you'll devour inventive rolls made with fresh local fish then cocktail the night away at Opus and LV's, two side-by-side hotspots on Bermudiana Road.

Family Fun
Got kids? Then check out Flatts Village, a mid-island enclave that's home to some of Bermuda's most family-friendly attractions. At the Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo, kids will marvel at the 140,000-gallon tank offering a diver's-eye view of coral reefs and tropical fish of all kinds plus exhibits featuring over 300 birds, reptiles and mammals. When it's time for lunch walk to nearby Rustico, a casual Italian café serving pasta and thin crust pizzas. For a glimpse of the underground landscape that inspired Fraggle Rock, head to nearby Crystal and Fantasy Caves for an up-close view of stalagmites and stalactites. Budding scientists will also enjoy the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. Located in Hamilton, the 40,000-square foot discovery center has hundreds of exhibits designed to acquaint visitors with the mysteries of the ocean, with highlights including the Jack Lightbourn shell collection with more than 1,000 species of shells on display and historic artifacts retrieved from various Bermuda shipwrecks.

History Ahoy
Bermuda's rich maritime history dates back to 1609 when a British sailing vessel crashed upon its shores--an open-ocean mishap that eventually created a vibrant Atlantic Ocean nation. To learn more about the island's original capital founded just three years later, head to St. George's, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring labyrinth cobblestone alleyways and well-preserved British colonial architecture. There you can visit St. Peter's Church--the oldest Anglican house of worship in the Western Hemisphere--and Fort St. Catherine, a massive stone fortress built in 1614 that's open for self-tours daily. When hunger strikes tuck in for afternoon tea at the historic Fairmont Hamilton Princess. The landmark hotel celebrated its 125th anniversary last year and proudly serves finger sandwiches and homemade scones aside steaming pots of Earl Grey from 2:30-5pm daily. Searching for more? Head west to the Royal Naval Dockyard where you'll find the recently restored National Museum of Bermuda and its many exhibits displayed in former munitions warehouses.

Right for Romance
Idyllic coastlines, tropical landscapes, world-class restaurants--what more could a couple ask for? First reserve a room at Bermuda's most exclusive west end retreat, Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa where children under five are not allowed and kids under 17 are not recommended. There you'll enjoy the recently renovated Ocean Spa, acclaimed on-site restaurants and private 30-acre peninsula big enough to find your very own slice of sand. Once away from the resort, head to Southampton where you can steal a kiss from your sweetie on the open-air balcony atop Gibbs Hill Lighthouse (it's only 185 steps to the top) then grab lunch at The Dining Room, a cozy Italian-inspired restaurant at the base of the light. Nearby is Horseshoe Bay, a stunning pink sand crescent perfect for romantic beach strolls--altogether a memorable day you'll recount fondly over a candlelit dinner at the Waterlot Inn.

The Many Faces of Bermuda

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