Fourteen years later, the photographer returned to Bermuda to find its old-world charm and fascinating natural scenery as wonderful as he last left it.
Now, Gray Malin has released his new Gray Malin in Bermuda series, highlighting the bright waters, sporting scene, and luxurious estate life that abounds in Bermuda.
“It wasn’t until college that I first went to Bermuda with my good friend who was from there while studying photography,” Malin recalls. “When I went, I was so inspired by the history and the old-world clubs that we were visiting with her family that had been members of these places for generations,” Malin told Travel + Leisure.
Malin, who recalls being around 18 at the time, told himself it would be a dream to get to come and shoot a series in the location one day. That dream came true when he was asked by a young local if he’d like to do just that: shoot a series on the island, returning years later to scout locations and create a shoot highlighting local traditions and culture.
“I thought this is amazing, just as I remember it from when I was 18, fourteen years later,” Malin said. “I was lucky to have been there once when younger and to go back again to see just how blue the water still is and just how stunning all the old rock walls and the pastels are,” he said.
Bermuda is home to miles of coastline that sit adorned with pink sand and dramatic rock formations that create hidden coves for visitors to explore. One of its most famous locations is at Horseshoe Bay Beach, where a combination of light-pink sands and natural rock carvings make for a stunning view.
“You can see the beautiful ocean and you have this combination of the ocean, the rocks, and a light blue bay with lush sands that just feels so dreamy, and it truly is dreamy,” said Malin, who climbed to the top of the rocks to capture a shot of local Bermudian models with vintage bikes.
And what’s even more special is the fact that the view can change depending on the tide.
“When the tide is low, you can really see out through some of the rocks into the ocean but during high tide, it feels almost like a private bay,” Malin said of the scenery.
Bermuda is also famous for its moongates—round limestone openings that are often found along garden walls and are said to provide good luck to newlyweds that step through one while hand-in-hand.
“They are quite special… they’re really graphic and when you’re a photographer trying to compose an image, it’s an ideal element to work with architecturally,” Malin said of the moongates.
Besides its natural rock formations, Bermuda is also noted for its pastel homes, which range from pink and blue to yellow, green and peach. The color palette, which dates back to the 17th century and has been maintained in Bermuda ever since, can be seen throughout the year, but Malin recommends visiting during Easter to for a true visual feast of Bermuda’s colorful ambiance.
Malin, who happened to be there during Easter, found that locals come together for the occasion and create kites of all colors to fly, making for a magnificent tradition to experience.
In addition to its natural attractions, Bermuda is also home to a historic charm Malin found throughout its offerings, especially at some of its private members' clubs that have stood for more than 100 years.
One such location is at the Coral Beach and Tennis Club, a timber wood establishment that dates back in its present form to 1948. Some structures on the property, which is made up of 26 acres of sub-tropical grounds overlooking Bermuda’s south shore, date as far back as 1650.
“You come to check in and can instantly feel that old-world charm,” Malin said of the space. “There’s yellow and white striped cushions, these wonderful white heavy metal furnishings with seashells that must have been there since the 1950s and 1960s... everyone is in Bermudian shorts and white polo shirts, and when you go to explore the grounds they have old cabanas and cottages throughout,” he said of the scene.
The historic atmosphere continues throughout the grounds, from the clay tennis courts right down to the vintage-looking glasses used to serve drinks.
The space serves as a spot for locals who also come to enjoy lunch on the outdoor terrace, while a pink hut offers drinks to enjoy before stepping out to the beach.
“In a weird way, what makes it so charming is that it’s not perfect and modern and pristine,” Malin said of the club. “The rocks are a bit worn and maybe the paint is chipping a bit, but it doesn’t really matter because it’s all really classic.”
Malin also shot at the Mid Ocean Club, known for its golf course which dates back to 1921. The location has been a destination for historic meetings that include those between former U.S. president Eisenhower and Winston Churchill.
The location’s rich history can be seen even in its locker rooms, which are made of wood, while its scenery makes for a memorable game as numerous holes sit by the pristine water.
But the historic feel of Bermuda extends far beyond private clubs. In fact, visitors will feel it as soon as they enter.
“It starts with the driving… the streets are thin and have rock walls that come around them to help keep it feeling old and charming,” Malin said.
Tourists won’t find car rentals in Bermuda. Instead, they’ll find mopeds and the Twizy—an electric car with two cockpit-style seats.
For those in search of accommodations that provide a historic feel while still offering modern comforts, Malin recommends a stay at the Ledgelets. Originally established back in 1948, the accommodations, which are available for booking via Airbnb, have been restored to include cottages that come with everything from private patios to fireplaces.
“It’s definitely for those who seek a bit more authenticity when they travel,” Malin said of the accommodations.