By Jillian Kramer
June 12, 2019
Sasha Weleber/Getty Images

Bermuda may be the perfect outdoor playground: From pink sand beaches to turquoise water, subterranean caves to lush jungles, and coral reefs to centuries-old forts, this 21-square-mile island has everything an outdoor adventurer could want.

“The full Bermuda experience is so much more than the beach,” said Kevin Dallas, CEO of Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Here are nine activities you may want to dip your toes into.

Explore the Railway Trail

Named for the train route that once wrapped around the island, the Railway Trail “is one of Bermuda’s most popular outdoor adventures, offering cyclists and hikers 18 miles of spectacular views and natural wonders,” said Dallas. Divided into nine distinct sections, hikers can start at its ends and walk the whole path, or pop in and out of sections as they see fit.

“No motorized vehicles are allowed on the Railway Trail, so you can enjoy its silence and serenity,” he said.

Hike Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve

Located on the southeast tip of the island, this now-nature reserve was once occupied by U.S. forces and later NASA. It wasn’t accessible to the public until 2011. “Now, visitors and locals alike can explore Cooper Island’s 12 perfectly preserved acres, home to seabirds such as herons and kingfishers, ancient Bermuda cedar trees, and giant land crabs,” Dallas said. Don't miss the reserve’s Wildlife Observation Tower, where he says you'll enjoy panoramic views and can even spot whales and migratory birds (depending on the time of year).

Snorkel Bermuda’s coral reefs

Bermuda boasts epic coral reefs, including North Rock, home thousands of fish, ship wrecks, and purple sea fans. But you likely won’t have to go much farther than your hotel’s beach to snorkel, according to Rosemary Jones, the author of travel guidebook “Moon Bermuda.” She recommends that you simply “rent snorkel gear from hotel operators or bring your own to enjoy a day spent ogling angelfish, parrotfish, and squid.”

Descend into the Crystal Caves

You might not expect it, but “one of Bermuda’s most awe-inspiring natural attractions is underground,” said Dallas. In the island’s Hamilton Parish lie the Crystal Caves, dramatic rock formations and “a dazzlingly clear ocean-fed lake,” Dallas said. You will need to book a tour to take in the Crystal Caves — but luckily, reservations aren’t required, which means you can keep your schedule as easy-breezy as the island.

Explore Bermuda’s chain of forts

Bermuda has a 400-year-long military history, and visitors can get a taste of it at the forts on the island, including Fort Hamilton, Fort St. Catherine, and the Keep. At the last, Bermuda’s largest fort, you’ll see “Spanish gold, pirate and slave artifacts, and British and North American military history are on display” at the National Museum, Jones said.

Take in Walsingham Nature Reserve

“Otherworldly caves, subterranean grottos, shimmering mangrove ponds, and sub-tropical forests fill Walsingham Nature Reserve,” said Dallas, adding it’s an ideal spot for those seeking a thrill to spend a day. Across the reserve’s 12 acres, adventurers can swim a clear-blue mangrove pond or cool caves, and cliff dive, according to Dallas. But, “one of the best ways to experience this Bermuda spot is through a Hidden Gems’ tour, which includes all necessary gear and guidance,” he said.

Go whale-watching

Numerous tour boat companies offer half-day and full-day whale-watching expeditions, on which you can spot humpback pods migrating past Bermuda in the spring, explains Jones. (Bermuda’s whale-watching season runs each year from March through April, during which time some 10,000 humpback whales traverse its waters.) Jones recommends contacting the Island Tour Centre or the Bermuda Zoological Society to find the best whale-watching tours.

Birdwatch at Spittal Pond

With 64 acres all to itself, Spittal Pond is Bermuda’s largest nature reserve, and a birdwatcher’s paradise. “As many as 500 kinds of migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, and many other species arrive here in the winter,” he said.

Go golfing

Bermuda has six world-class courses on its 21 square miles, which, Jones says, is more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in the world. What’s more, for the first time ever, the PGA Tour will bring its event to the island this fall. The Bermuda Championship takes place from October 31 through November 3 at Port Royal Golf Course, according to GolfWorld.