Bermuda

The 180 or so islands that make up Bermuda create a welcoming stepping-stone in the Atlantic. Its capital, Hamilton, is a vision of pastel houses to match the famous pink beaches.

Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory that was first settled by the English in the early 1600s.

The islands, shaped like a fishhook, became a key strategic outpost for two centuries. At the tip of their “barb,” the Royal Naval Dockyard was a powerful symbol of seafaring might. This huge complex officially closed as a military institution in 1951, and the restored Commissioner’s House is now filled with various nautical exhibits, while many of the old barracks and warehouse buildings now house local potters and ceramicists. It’s well worth a look around.

At the very opposite end of the “fishhook,” St. George waits to transport you back in time. The original capital of the islands is a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed for being the “earliest English urban settlement in the New World.” At its heart lies King's Square, with the polished wooden 17th century stocks and the dusky pink town hall. Yet perhaps the real joy of the town is to wander the narrow alleys and cobbled lanes that have such evocative names as Silk Alley, Barber’s Lane Alley and Printer’s Alley, where the islands’ first newspaper hit the press.

While there’s much history to ponder, you may simply decide to wander the waterfront and browse the boutiques of Hamilton.

Saying that, many of the attractions in Bermuda are natural. You’ll no doubt want to see the famous pink sands for yourself, and perhaps even bask on wonderfully named beaches like Elbow Bay and Horseshoe Bay. The Bermuda Railway Trail is an invitation to explore on two wheels along a route looking out onto the Atlantic as you pass through exotic plants and flowers. It’s even beautiful underground, at least in the Crystal Caves, a beautiful subterranean world of lakes, stalactites and stalagmites.

Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, one of the oldest cast iron lighthouses in the world, both challenges you with 185 steps then rewards you are sweeping views over the ocean. Although you may prefer being out on the water. In which case, boarding a glass-bottomed boat offers a glimpse into the brightly hued marine world that thrives around the coral. How about relaxing on a catamaran as you sightsee your way to a secluded swimming spot? Or paddle your way around the rocky shoreline by kayak, keeping an eye out for the birds and marine life.