Kings Wharf, Bermuda: Attracting Visitors for Over 500 Years
Known for its beautiful pink sand beaches, vibrant blue waters, and historic architecture, Bermuda is an island worth adding to your bucket list destinations. Home to the iconic Kings Wharf, also known as the Royal Naval Dockyard, it is the largest cruise port in Bermuda, popular among cruisers for offering many excursions for all types of travelers.
Exploring Kings Wharf, Bermuda
Kings Wharf, Bermuda — also known as the Royal Naval Dockyard — has been around since 1795, making it one of the oldest ports on the island. It was originally used as headquarters for the British Royal Navy between Europe and the New World, but now it’s open to everyone—and we mean everyone!
The area has changed quite a bit over the years—from a strategic outpost for Britain to a servicing shipyard in wartime to a thriving commercial port. Nowadays, its limestone warehouses-turned-museums and shops make this Bermuda cruise port a buzzy tourist destination with plenty of great places where the locals also hang out and enjoy themselves.
Here are a few fun facts about Kings Wharf:
- While many explorers stopped in Bermuda, the English colonists were the first to settle on the island after their ship was steered off course by the July 1609 hurricane
- Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner while held captive on a ship that sailed from the Dockyard to Baltimore during the final war between the US and Great Britain
- The dockyard was a strategic naval base during WWI and WWII
- The port has the Bermuda WebCam, which you can watch to get a feel for the area as you prepare for a visit
- The actual truth of the Bermuda Triangle is… that there is no mysterious triangle between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Florida! Every shipwreck and plane crash that occurred in that zone has now been explained
How’s the Weather?
In a word: Fantastic! The weather at Kings Wharf, Bermuda is almost always warm and sunny, with little chance of rain. Bermuda’s climate is subtropical, with generous trade winds to help cool you off. During summer months, temperatures typically hover around 80°F (27°C), which is great if you want to relax on the beach, play golf, or go exploring. But during winter months, the temperature drops down to a chilly 65°F (18°C). While there is no rainy season and rain showers are short, there IS a hurricane season and it lasts from June 1 to November 30. Hurricane strikes are rare; that being said, in the event of a hurricane there is plenty of notice, the island is well prepared, right down to the super strong buildings.
Best time to visit
The best time of year to visit Bermuda is in late Spring, when the weather is milder and the crowds are smaller. If you’re looking for a beach vacation, this is also the time of year when you’ll find sea turtles laying eggs on the beaches.
Getting around Kings Wharf, Bermuda is easy, whether you’re exploring it on foot, by bus, or by taxi. You can also rent bikes or take a bus around the island. A ferry is available that can take you from Kings Wharf to the colorful shops and pubs on Front Street in Hamilton and the cobbled streets of St. George.
What You Can’t Miss While You’re in Bermuda
For the Nature Lovers
Stop by Warwick Long Bay, located on the south side of Bermuda. This beautiful bay stretches for about half a mile along the island’s southern coast and offers visitors breathtaking beach views and vibes. The sands are pink and the crystal blue water in this area is calm and clear, making it an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling.
You can relax on the white sands of Elbow Beach, or hunt for sea glass on the aptly named Sea Glass Beach. Snorkel Beach Park offers plenty of opportunities to see sea life up close, and has clear, shallow waters for the kiddos. Jobson’s Cove is a small, sheltered cove perfect for families as well as those who want a more secluded beach experience.
If you’re looking for something a little more action-packed, Horseshoe Bay is where to go. There you can rent paddle boards and boogie boards and take them out for a spin. You can also stay on shore and climb along the rock formations and explore nearby caves or just stretch back on the sand and catch the sun’s rays. It is also very kid friendly, with a “kiddie beach” for your child to safely play in.
Kings Wharf Bermuda Botanical Gardens is a botanical garden established in the late 18th century, and features a large collection of tropical plants, including palms and cycads, as well as subtropical flowers and trees. Wander along its marked paths and admire the exotic fruit trees, hibiscus, and other botany from around the world.
The Crystal Caves are caves that were formed over millions of years by the action of waves on quartz sandstone rock over millions of years. They were discovered in 1907 by a group of boys searching for an errant cricket ball. Go underground for an otherworldly experience amidst magnificent stalagmites and stalactites surrounding a 55 foot deep lake.
Kings Wharf, Bermuda is a great place to hop on a glass bottom boat and see colorful marine life swimming right below you! It is also a great way to see another perspective of the island.
For the Shoppers
If you’re looking for unique gifts and souvenirs, the Dockyard Glassworks & Bermuda Rum Cake Company is the place to go! Watch a glass blowing demonstration and choose a custom glass piece, from handmade earrings to vases and even wine glasses. Their scrumptious rum cakes come pre-packaged in a variety of flavors and make perfect gifts to take back home.
The Bermuda Craft Market is a great place to find local artists’ work. Just follow the brightly colored umbrellas where you will discover tons of paintings, handmade jewelry, dolls, and more. You get to support local artists while getting something truly unique as well. Win win!
Things to Buy While You Are Visiting
- Grab a bottle — or two — of local rum: Handcrafted right on the island by Bermudians, it is known for its unique flavor, and is a great addition to any liquor collection.
- A pair of Bermuda shorts: Made from lightweight cotton fabric, these colorful shorts are perfect for wearing on hot summer days!
- Christmas ornaments: Pick up a festive Bahamian Christmas ornament to bring back fond memories of your time on the island during the cold winter holidays.
For the Active Traveler
With 8 golf courses boasting beautiful backdrops, Bermuda is a golfer’s paradise and has hosted many PGA events. Serious golfers can play a round at Belmont Hills, while families and non-golfers can enjoy a round or two of mini golf at Fun Golf Bermuda which has miniature versions of world class golf courses.
Go deep into the water and discover why Bermuda is considered the Wreck Diving Capital of the Atlantic. Strap on your snorkeling gear and get up close and personal with the Constellation and Montana shipwrecks laying 30 feet below the surface.
For the History and Architecture Buffs
The Royal Naval Dockyard is where you will likely dock when you come into port; it served as a military base during WWI and WWII, thanks to its strategic location. Today it is home to a number of attractions, including:
-The Commissioner’s House: This Georgian-style building was built in the 1820s by the hands of local laborers, slaves, and convicts. The first iron cast house in the world, it served as the resident Commissioner’s offices and private quarters.
The National Museum of Bermuda: This museum inside Bermuda’s largest fort contains several exhibitions and artifacts spanning 500 years of the island’s history. Kids will enjoy the on site playhouse and playground.
The Old State House: Also known as the old Session House, this structure in St. George is reported to be the oldest building in Bermuda (built in 1620).
Gibbs Hill Lighthouse: built in 1846, this cast-iron lighthouse in Hamilton is one of only two of its kind surviving, and is still in use today. Its beam is reportedly visible for up to 40 miles from the sea. Climb up its 185 steps and be rewarded with stunning 360 degree panoramic views of the island.
The town of St. George is the oldest and most historic part of Bermuda, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Architecture buffs will enjoy the colorful colonial style buildings, narrow alleyways, and quaint shops. While here, check out Fort St. Catherine as well as the Martello Tower with its 9 foot thick, cannon-resistant walls.
The Unfinished Church in St. George is a worthwhile curiosity to see; the splendid Gothic walls are the farthest the builders got before it was abandoned in 1899.
For the Families
The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo (BAMZ) will tantalize the young and young at heart with its show stopping 140,000 gallon tank housing a living replica of Bermuda’s coral reefs. With more than 200 marine creatures, museum exhibits galore, and a small zoo with the famed Oscar the Alligator, what’s not to like?
Local Tips and Tricks You Most Definitely Didn’t Know About
If you are planning on visiting this amazing destination, there are some things that you should know before you go. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your trip:
- The local currency is the Bermudian dollar, which is currently on par with the US dollar. Many vendors and businesses will take US dollars (but you will probably get your change back in Bermudian currency)
- Let’s face it: Bermuda can be expensive but totally doable with a little advance planning! Aim to go in the off season (think March or October), eat at the beach bars or where the locals do, and decide in advance what you want to splurge on
- Check your restaurant bill before you pay, as most establishments already factor in a tip
- In Bermuda they drive on the left side of the road (note to visitors: you are not allowed to rent cars)
- The local language is English, so no worries about potential translation errors
- Store hours and transportation can be extremely limited on national holidays, so plan accordingly
- Keep a jacket or sweater handy in the late fall or early spring, as the weather can get chilly (even though Bermuda is an island, it is parallel with the North Carolina coast)
Laws to know
Bermuda has a reputation for being a laid-back place, but there are still some laws you should know about before traveling.
For instance, you can admire sea glass on the beach — but you are not allowed to take any home. Also, you are allowed to bring beer and alcohol to the beach, but you are not allowed to carry an open container in the streets. And smoking is banned in any enclosed public space.
What You Can’t Forget to Pack
Like any island vacation, you will want to make sure you have the necessities such as swimwear, sunglasses, a hat, a camera, and sunscreen. Pack plenty of lightweight clothing and bring a couple lightweight layers for the evenings.
Keep in mind that true Bermuda style is casual, yet conservative: this means swimwear is only worn at the beach or the pool, and the men do not walk around shirtless. Sundresses and Bermuda shorts are always a good option!
With the best snorkeling in Bermuda, amazing golf courses, postcard-perfect beaches, and glass bottom boats, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better place than Kings Wharf for things to do in Bermuda on a cruise. Our travel consultants are standing by to set you up with an unforgettable Bermuda adventure! Call us today.