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St. George's Excursion Gives Great Taste of Colonial History

St. George's harbor. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
St. George's harbor. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

St. George’s Bermuda will richly reward vacationers and cruise visitors who are looking to get a taste of the island’s history. Founded in 1612, St. George’s is one of the oldest permanent English settlements in the New World.

Although on one of the world’s premier resort islands, its original settlement was something of an accident.

In 1609, nine ships left England to supply Jamestown, in modern day Virginia, but were caught in a storm and some were forced to land at what is now the town of St. George’s.

Though the ships eventually reached Jamestown, they left several men on Bermuda to establish a permanent English presence on the island. Over the past four centuries, Bermuda has worked hard to bring modern amenities to the city while faithfully preserving its colonial look and feel.

Most of the cities’ buildings date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and the town offers a wealth of historic buildings, museums and attractions in a charming coastal setting.

Efforts to maintain St. George’s historic atmosphere were rewarded in 2000, when the town was named one of the United Nations’ World Heritage Sites.

Currently boasting a permanent population of around 1,200 people, St. George’s is an option for tourists hoping to avoid some of the crowds that can accumulate in and around the nearby city of Hamilton.

Cruise Visitors

St. George’s Map

St. George’s is on the far northeastern tip of Bermuda—actually on Davis Island, which is connected by causeway. It’s a one-hour drive from the Royal Navy Dockyard cruise port and about 30 minutes from the Hamilton cruise port. Bermuda cruise visitors may find the best way to see the best of St. George’s is with a full island shore excursion.

A full island excursion will cost about $80 or more including transportation and may last about five hours. A typical excursion will begin at Kings Wharf or Heritage Wharf at the Royal Navy Dockyard. From there, the tours often stop at St. George’s in addition to Horseshoe Bay Beach and Fort Hamilton.

Otherwise, the best way to get there from the Hamilton cruise port is the public bus system. Bus Route 11 connects the two cities. The bus takes about 50 minutes each way including stops, according to the Bermuda government website. A typical fare is $3.50 for adults and $2.75 for children 5 to 16.

Tourist Attractions

St. George's City Hall
St. George’s City Hall. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

One of the greatest draws of St. George’s is its wide variety of activities and attractions. While spending time wandering aimlessly through St. George’s streets will offer visitors a unique glimpse into Bermuda’s past, any such trip should certainly include a visit to King’s Square, where this rich history comes to life with reenactments and permanent displays.

Visitors can subject themselves to a (brief) stay in the stocks or pillories, or witness a reenactment of the old punishment known as “ducking.” Though gossiping or nagging women are no longer subjected to a dunk in the harbor by force, local volunteers recreate the event for tourists and townspeople alike throughout the year.

Museums in St. George’s include St. George’s Historical Society Museum, which features exhibits on 18th century life, the Bermuda National Trust Museum, which takes a look at the history of the island and its role in world events, and the Bermudian Heritage Museum, which offers information and exhibits on the history of Bermuda’s slave communities and their descendants.

The town features a number of other historical sites, which can be seen individually or via the Olde Towne Railway Train, a popular guided tour through the town.

To cool off, visitors may enjoy several outstanding nearby beaches, including the popular Tobacco Bay.

Surrounded by limestone cliffs, the beach is home to an array of colorful fish and corals, making it one of the best snorkeling beaches on the island. Beachfront equipment rental and food are also available.

For the more adventurous, K.S. Watersports offers visitors the chance to enjoy a jetski trip around St. George’s beaches, where they can take in the natural beauty as well as a number of the town’s old forts and coastal batteries. If jetskis aren’t enough to entice adrenaline seekers to the area, parasailing is also available. St. George’s is also home to St. George’s Golf Course, one of three publicly operated courses on Bermuda.

Restaurants and Shopping

St. George’s offers several dining opportunities, ranging from the cozy Café Glo to the upscale Griffin’s, attached to the St. George’s Club on Rose Hill.

A number of waterfront taverns and restaurants offer a casual dining experience with views of St. George’s Harbor.

Most restaurants are located along the bay or in the Somers Wharf Shopping and Dining Complex, which also contains a number of local and international shopping opportunities.

Visitors may enjoy the local flavor offered by shops along Water Street, buy some of the worlds finest cigars at the appropriately named Churchill’s, or round out their Bermuda wardrobe at the fashionable English Sports Shop.

Visitors traveling to St. George’s between April and October should make certain to attend one of St. George’s Market Nights, celebrated every Tuesday and offering food, performances and the wares of local artisans.


While St. George’s offers a more limited hotel selection than nearby Hamilton, visitors may treat themselves to a stay at The St. George’s Club, one of the most prestigious resorts on the island.

Located atop Rose Hill and overlooking the historic town center of St. George’s, the club offers 71 cottages, each with its own kitchen and other amenities. The resort also has three swimming pools, a gym, scooters for rent and two restaurants.

Aunt Nea’s hotel offers more basic amenities but with an excellent location just minutes away from all the downtown offerings of St. George’s. Visitors may also stay at the nearby Hotel Grotto Beach Bay Resort, located just across Castle Harbor, on the main island.

Of course, you need not book a room in St. George’s to enjoy the town, as it is a mere 25-minute drive from Hamilton and may be accessed by taxi, public transportation, or on one of the island’s many rentable scooters or mopeds.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
April 26, 2022

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