It’s not too often that I have the opportunity to explore a new culture from the perspective of a true local. Sometimes I am unable to get this “local” experience due to a lack of connections at a given location, a concern for safety, or even the disinterest from those in the group that I am traveling with, but when the chance arises, I jump at it.
Exploring new territories with locals often provides a much different experience than adventuring on your own. Not necessarily better, but often more authentic. From connecting with the culture, hearing stories, tasting authentic foods, learning, and living the day-to-day life, it’s truly an unreplicable experience.
On a recent visit to Bermuda, this is exactly what I was able to do. The hometown of one of my best friends, I was extended an invitation to visit Bermuda and learn more about this island’s beautiful history and my friend’s culture. We planned for our trip to coincide with both her birthday and the Labor Day holiday. Being that we were planning to stay in the family home that she grew up in, I was only responsible for my flight and expenses for food or excursions. With a combination of Delta Skymiles and Chase Sapphire Rewards points, I was able to totally cover the cost of the round trip flight, leaving just the expenses of meals and activities.
Aside from staying where the locals stay in Bermuda, I wanted to be intentional with the places that we ate at, the activities that we did, and generally with how we spent our time. During our 6 day visit, we made sure to get a delicate balance of exploration and relaxation, taking time to attend local games, sight-see, and of course, lounge on the beautiful pink sand beaches. If you’re ever in Bermuda, here’s my list of must-dos and must-sees that helped me to truly connect with the culture:
- Attend a cricket game
- Visit the Horseshoe Bay Beach
- Eat where the locals eat
- Cambridge Beach- Buffet style with beautiful views
- Swizzle Inn-Local eatery with some Bermudian delicacies
- Mickey’s Restaurant at Elbow Beach- Fancy Night Out
- Seaside Grill- You must get the fish sandwich
- Indulge in the Bermudian National Dish- Codfish breakfast served traditionally with potatoes, boiled egg, onions, mayonnaise, and ketchup
- Stay in an Airbnb
- Attend a local pool party at the Coco Reef “Bermuda’s Best Beach Resort”
- Visit the Crystal Cave
- Take a boat tour- Learn about the island’s history and other fun facts
Other notes about Bermuda:
- It’s expensive. Most of my recent travels have been spent in Southeast Asia and South America where the USD goes far. In Bermuda, the exchange rate is 1 to 1 and the average cost of a carton of eggs is $9 Bermudian Dollars. In total, I spent about $250 on food and drinks during my visit.
- The beaches, the people, and the architecture, all beautiful. Take time to take it all in, exploring by foot, car, or moped. I did not see a lot of options for public transportation during my visit, aside from a few public buses and the ferry.
- Bermuda is a quick ride from the East Coast. With daily departures, you can arrive from Boston or NY to Bermuda in less than 3 hours.
- Not a part of the Caribbean, this beautiful island is too often overlooked by tourists and the Bermudian government is looking to change this. Visit their official site for sample itineraries, Island tips, and a list of places to stay.
- Bermuda is a British territory, with 138 islands, with the top 8 being connected by bridges and causeways. It is fairly simple and quick to navigate around the island.
I encourage everyone to get a local travel experience whenever possible. Take time to talk to people, learn their stories, be vulnerable, openly embrace new cultures, and to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s important to manage expectations in these moments. Between Instagram, the boom of travel influencers, and lack of knowledge, there can be a fabricated idea of what a particular location will be like and that can lead to disappointment and often a culture shock. But with a little pre-planning and an open mind, you’ll open yourself to a whole new world of possibilities, literally.
“If knowledge is power, then curiosity is the muscle”– Danielle LaPorte