Like all Caribbean islands, Bermuda boasts the crucial ingredients for an idyllic retreat: glorious sunshine, warm azure sea and pleasantly pinkish sand. Yet this tiny island is so much more than just a quintessential paradise; it has a unique history and intriguing culture of its own, not to mention famous residents, including Hollywood’s Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
A Cultural Mish-Mash
Named after the Spanish explorer Juan de Bermudez, who first spotted this paradise island in 1503, Bermuda was later colonised by Britain and experienced all the unwelcome characteristics of colonial rule, including slavery. As a result, Bermuda’s culture is somewhat of a mish-mash; a mélange of African, European and American influences.
Bermuda is divided into parishes with British-inspired names such as Devonshire and Warwick, residents drive on the left hand side of the road and are avid supporters of cricket and rugby – all a direct reminder of the island’s colonial past.
Popular culture is centred around music and festivities. Afro-Caribbean sounds, principally reggae and calypso, are immensely popular. Gombey dancing on the island is legendary, fusing elements of Native American, African and Caribbean culture into an enchanting and colourful routine – a sight to behold for tourists and passers-by.
To top it off, Bermuda’s currency is pegged to the US Dollar and yet dollar bills proudly display the face of HRH Queen Elizabeth II. It is an interesting combination, but it works.
The oldest of Britain’s former colonies, Bermuda’s sovereignty is still legally vested in the UK monarch, though, like Jamaica, there is a political movement supporting independence from the crown. However the strongly conservative and palpably royalist public in Bermuda suggests future independence looks unlikely. Bermudian habits and values are traditional and tourists thinking of booking a Bermuda holiday should be aware that topless sunbathing is illegal.
Tourism & Economy
Bermuda is famous for its tax haven status, the result of a lack of capital gains, withholding, transfer, gift and income taxes for non-residents. Consequently, it has attracted a flock of international businesses and is said to have one of the highest incomes per capita in the world. Business and Financial Services, along with tourism, are the key industries in Bermuda.
Bermuda holidays are not for the backpacking, all-night partying crowd as the island’s conservative culture suggests. The absence of KFC’s and MacDonald’s will be refreshing to many holidaymakers – fast-food outlets are prohibited in Bermuda, along with 24-hour licence laws. This is not to say that Bermudians don’t know how to have a good time, the opposite is true in fact!
Old Fashioned Fun in the Sun
As Dustin Hoffman once said: “The two basic items necessary for happiness are sunshine and coconut milk”. Perhaps it is the sunshine and coconut palms that make Bermudians so foot loose and fancy free, the energetic islanders in the clip below certainly seem to be enjoying life!
Isn’t there something so delightfully primitive about throwing oneself off a cliff into the sea? A bolder and much more dangerous version of the classic swimming pool “bomb”. That’s the thing about Bermuda, it offers back to basics, good, clean, honest fun.
Take the summertime “Cupmatch Bermuda” for example. A good-natured two-day cricket match between two different ends of the island, essentially an excuse for everyone to come together for a party. Expect friendly east versus west rivalry, music, dancing and beach side merrymaking. And of course, the sun is guaranteed to shine.
The island has found a formula that works, an interesting blend of cultures set among breathtaking Caribbean scenery. Why not book your Bermuda holiday today and experience all the allure of a paradise island for yourself?