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There are pleasant swimming beaches all around Bermuda, but the best area is South Shore Park, which has nearly a dozen coves linked by coastal trails. Other notable beaches are Elbow Beach near Hamilton and the exotically named John Smith Bay in Paget Parish. Islanders say it's easy to tell the nationality of people splashing in the waves; locals won't swim after September, Americans quit around November and Brits swim year round. Most locals take their first dip on Bermuda Day on 24 May; the more timid wait until the Queen's Birthday in mid-June.

Bermuda's shallow waters, warm currents, numerous shipwrecks and coral reefs make for great diving. Popular wreck dives include the Constellation, which sits in only 30 feet of water and the nearby Montana. The main season is from April through October. There are a number of dive operators and most offer introductory courses for novices. Snorkellers can find interesting underwater terrain just about anywhere the water is calm and the shoreline rocky. Favored spots include Church Bay in Southampton Parish and Tobacco Bay north of the Town of St George.

Windsurfing tends to be good in the Great Sound but the best locations change with the wind. Sailing is popular in the protected waters of the Great Sound and Little Sound. You can rent sailboats, take lessons or charter a skippered yacht. Chartering a fishing boat will enable you to chance your rod and reel skills against game fish such as marlin, tuna and barracuda. In the interests of conservation, sports fishers are encouraged to release their catch and, thankfully, most do.

The longest walking trails on the islands are along the now covered tracks that once carried Bermuda's narrow-gauge railway. Unfortunately the Bermuda Railway Trail is not a single continuous walkway, but it does add up to some 21 miles of trails. The government produces a nifty guide that details the historic and natural points of interest in its seven sections. Other good areas for walking are Spittal Pond Nature Reserve and South Shore Park.

If you need more exercise, there are numerous tennis courts and a whopping eight golf courses, which must be some kind of record on only 21 sq miles of land.




Events
 

Bermuda has an inordinate number of golf tournaments and sedate events like bowls tournaments and gardening shows aimed primarily at older people but that doesn't mean it lacks oomph.

Gombey dancers strut their stuff on New Year's Day, and the Bermuda Festival is a six-week performing arts spectacular running from mid-January through February. The Bermuda Cat Fanciers Association Championship Cat Show in mid-March sounds like a hoot but is slightly less prestigious than the Newport-Bermuda Race, one of the world's major ocean yacht races held in late June during even-numbered years.

SOCA is a Caribbean music festival that has the Royal Naval Dockyards jumping in late July or early August, while the Bermuda Reggae Sunsplash continues the skanking in mid-August. You can march to a different drummer during the three-day Bermuda Tattoo in early November, which culminates with a grand finale of fireworks.


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