Lapped by the calm waters of the Sargasso Sea – the only sea in the world without a land border – Bermuda floats far from land in the middle of the North Atlantic. Sharing a similar vibe to the Caribbean, Bermuda is a lovely sweep of sandy beaches, rocky shorelines, jewel-blue waters and pastel-colored houses fringed by fragrant frangipani and bougainvillea.
But who are we kidding, you’re here for those pink-sand beaches. You’re here for the tiny secluded coves and long sandy stretches framed by dramatic cliff formations. Bermuda offers the kind of tropical beauty that feels like a fairytale. Here are the island’s best strips of sand, listed clockwise from Bermuda’s capital, Hamilton.
1. Elbow Beach, Paget Parish
A mile-long stretch of white sand lined with palm trees and home to three of Bermuda’s most exclusive resorts, Elbow Beach is the closest beach to the island’s busy cruise ship port. Just a short ride from the city of Hamilton, the beach is predictably popular, with lots of places to grab a Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail, one of Bermuda’s signature drinks. A protective barrier formed by offshore reefs keeps the waters calm, and impromptu beach parties take place here during spring break, when the beach is at its busiest.
Planning tip: Elbow Beach attracts active travelers with a range of water sports, from snorkeling and kayaking to stand-up paddleboarding. Divers can investigate the wreck of the cargo steamer Pollokshields, which sank offshore in 1915.
2. Astwood Cove, Warwick Parish
Accessed via a steep, winding trail from Astwood Park, this intimate sandy cove surrounded by jagged limestone cliffs is a spot you’ll likely have all to yourself. Eroded boulders jut out from the sand, and there’s decent snorkeling around the rocks just offshore. Enjoy sweeping ocean vistas from the park above the cove, with parking for easy access and picnic tables beneath the trees.
3. Warwick Long Bay, Warwick Parish
The star of Bermuda’s South Shore, Warwick Long Bay is the island’s longest beach – a half-mile stretch of pink sand, backed by sand dunes and cedar trees and shielded from the Atlantic waves by an offshore reef. Come here to swim with blue angelfish, parrotfish, trumpetfish and other reef inhabitants. Snorkeling equipment is available for hire from beachside concession stands during the summer.
Planning tip: Warwick Long Bay gets crowded at weekends; for a quieter experience, check out the many coves just west of the beach, accessible via a coastal trail through the dunes.
4. Jobson’s Cove, Warwick Parish
If you were going to propose to your significant other in Bermuda, you’d probably do it here, at the prettiest of the island’s many pink-sand coves. Surrounded by a horseshoe of jagged volcanic rock formations, the waters at Jobson’s Cove are deep, clear, calm, and good for snorkelers as well as bathers. The nearest facilities are several minutes’ walk east through the dunes on Warwick Long Bay.
5. Horseshoe Bay, Southampton Parish
If there’s such a thing as a perfect beach, then this long sweep of pink-white sand could well be it. Arguably one of the top beaches in the world and certainly one of the most popular beaches in Bermuda, Horseshoe Bay is well worth visiting early in the morning, before anyone else arrives, to catch the sunrise from one of the rock formations bookending the beach.
The northern side of the beach gets rather busy with sun loungers and cruise ship passengers, while the southern side is quieter. You can rent snorkeling equipment and beach umbrellas, and there are usually lifeguards on duty during the May to September peak season. The bar above the beach serves burgers and other snacks.
Planning tip: If the main beach is busy, enclosed Horseshoe Bay Cove, just south of the main beach, has particularly calm waters. It’s ideal for small children, and the caves in the limestone cliff provide a natural playground for older kids.
6. Church Bay, Southampton Parish
Rated the top beach in Bermuda for underwater wonders, this small pink-sand beach and its aquarium-like waters attract snorkelers in droves. Bring your own gear, or rent a mask and snorkel from one of the beachside concession stands, then float out to the reef to see why Bermuda is known as the parrotfish capital of the world. The deep water makes this beach less suitable for families with kids.
7. West Whale Bay, Southampton Parish
Looking for privacy? Romantic seclusion is the big draw at this small pink-sand beach on Bermuda’s west side, just below Whale Bay park. West Whale Bay is fringed by coastal pines, and relatively few people venture here.
From March to April, it’s also an excellent place for spotting pods of humpback whales as they migrate from the Caribbean to their summer feeding grounds near Greenland and Iceland. Bring binoculars and keep watch from the top of the cliffs to spot breaching leviathans.
8. Somerset Long Bay Beach & Daniel’s Head Beach, Sandy’s Parish
Just north of the town of Somerset, these two crescent-shaped beaches are relatively isolated and offer a welcome escape from crowds. While the waters are sometimes choppy and not ideal for swimming, both beaches attract kitesurfers when the wind conditions are right. Daniel’s Head Beach has water sports centers renting out snorkeling gear, glass-bottom kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
Planning tip: Snorkelers may wish to check out the shipwreck of the HMS Vixen, a former British navy ship lying just offshore and best reached by boat.
9. Shelly Bay Beach, Hamilton Parish
Together with Smith’s Parish, Hamilton Parish forms a ring of land around the saltwater lagoon of Harrington Sound. Shelly Bay Beach, partially shaded by palm trees on Bermuda’s north shore, is the only beach to speak of in the parish, but it’s a great stop with kids in tow.
Quiet on weekdays, it tends to get busy with families at weekends, as its waters are shallow and calm even at high tide. Nearby, a park with a playground and picnic tables is a favorite for al fresco lunches and football and cricket games. One of Bermuda’s best hikes, the Railway Trail, can also be picked up from Shelly Bay.
Planning tip: If you’re traveling with kids, swing by the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo at Flatt’s Village on the way, or take a guided tour of the dramatic stalactites and stalagmites at the Crystal and Fantasy caves, both a short drive away in Hamilton parish.
10. Tobacco Bay, St George’s Parish
On the northern shore of St George’s Island and accessible on foot or by bus from the Unesco World Heritage-listed town of St George’s, this appealing, sheltered bay is one of Bermuda’s top spots for snorkeling. The offshore reefs between Tobacco Bay and Achilles Bay teem with shoals of colorful reef fish, and it’s also a good spot for paddleboarding and kayaking.
Planning tip: You can make a day of it at Tobacco Bay. Waterfront kiosks have paddleboards, kayaks and snorkeling equipment for hire, while the bay’s eponymous restaurant serves burgers and other light bites. Come here on summer evenings for live music.
11. St Catherine’s Beach, St George’s Parish
Flanked by a row of palm trees at Bermuda’s northernmost tip, this small, quiet beach lets you combine sunbathing on the sand with some local history – a visit to Fort St Catherine, built in the early 17th century. Bermuda’s largest naval fortress houses a worthwhile museum that displays artifacts from the 1600s onwards, and you can climb its towers and wander through its tunnels to get a sense of the island’s maritime past.
12. Clearwater Beach, St George’s Parish
You’ll find Clearwater Beach – a long stretch of powdery white sand – just south of the international airport, sharing a peninsula with Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve. The shallow, calm waters are family-friendly, and the park behind the beach features a kids’ playground, several nature trails and vistas of Castle Island.
Planning tip: Over the headland, Turtle Bay is a smaller sandy cove with a lifeguard on duty in summer, while the nature reserve, a few minutes’ walk south, is home to nesting loggerhead turtles and numerous species of tropical birds.
13. Long Bay Beach, St George’s Parish
In the middle of Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve, near the tip of the peninsula, this secluded sandy beach is accessible via a dirt trail from Clearwater Beach car park. There are no facilities here, just teal waters, very little shade, and pink-white sand you’re likely to enjoy in complete solitude.
A short stroll south takes you to Cooper’s Island Wildlife Observation Tower. Scale it for expansive views of the coastline, occasional whale sightings and displays on the US Airforce and NASA base that used to occupy this piece of land.
14. John Smith’s Bay, Smith’s Parish
Popular with local families due to its shallow, limpid blue waters and bathroom and changing facilities, John Smith’s Bay is a compact, half-moon of pale pink sand. From May to September, there’s a lifeguard on duty – an additional bonus for families – and the surrounding park is ideal for picnicking.
Planning tip: Nature lovers can visit Spittal Pond Nature Reserve, a 10-minute walk west along the shore. Walking trails through its marshlands, freshwater ponds and woodlands offer sightings of herons, hawks and several species of wading birds.