TOWN OF ST. GEORGE
Captivating St. Georges
At first, setting foot here can feel a bit like stepping back in time as you take in the narrow warren of streets, historic buildings, replicas and re-enactments. The heartbeat of the town is King’s Square, where local gatherings take place throughout the year. In the past, the Square was the scene of punishment; and the stocks and pillory is still on display. On any given day there’s a re-enactment of a colonial-era punishment: The town gossip is dunked in the Ducking Stool. A far less grim sight is the full-scale replica of the Deliverance — the ship built by those who were on the Sea Venture that had shipwrecked on the island in 1609. Wood salvaged from the Sea Venture was used to build the Deliverance, which took much-needed aid to Virginia nine months after it wrecked on the island. The replica now sits across the bridge from King’s Square on Ordnance Island and gives an idea of what it would have been like to sail on 17th-century ship crammed with cargo.
Those less inclined towards nautical history can explore the history of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at the World Heritage Centre near the ferry docks and Penno’s Wharf. The restored 19th-century warehouse features interactive exhibits, artwork and educational highlights regarding the discovery of Bermuda and the history of the island’s first capital. (The Town of St. George lost its status as capital to Hamilton in 1815.) Visitors can also stop by the Visitor Services Centre at 25 York Street to start planning their East End excursions. Check with the helpful staff, which provides insider knowledge about the town. Scan the QR code on the poster found inside the Visitor Services Centre to view the digital Town of St. George Guide, as well as a new Maps of Bermuda guide, to help you navigate the area, buy tickets for local tours, bus and ferry tickets and passes, and Bermuda- branded merchandise.
The Town of St. George is one of the oldest continuously inhabited English settlements in the Western Hemisphere, and it’s obvious that despite its historical features, this is a working town with many proud residents.
However, take a stroll through any of the peculiarly named streets — like Needle & Thread Alley, Featherbed Alley and Old Maid’s Lane — to discover examples of buildings dating as far back as the 1600s. Whilst many of the homes are inhabited, several have been restored by the Bermuda National Trust and can be explored to discover a hint of Bermuda’s past.
One of the finest examples is St. Peter’s, Their Majesties Chappell, steps above the main thoroughfare, York Street. Whilst the inside of the church is a beautiful example of Bermudian architecture, featuring locally harvested cedar beams, it’s the graveyard out back that provides a fascinating (and disheartening) look into the sad reality of racial segregation in Bermuda. The historic churchyard was segregated, with a separate section for the burial of blacks — both free and enslaved. The graveyard is one of the key sites on Bermuda’s African Diaspora Heritage Trail.
Just up the hill from the town stands the Unfinished Church. It was intended to replace St. Peter’s, but due to a lack of funds and infighting amongst the parishioners, the church was never completed. A freak tornado that damaged the roof sealed the church’s fate in 1925. These days, it’s a picturesque architectural attraction and a popular place for weddings.
A great way to explore St. George’s back roads and historical sites is by horseback. The view along the coastline is stunning, and the ride takes in many of the forts that are situated just outside the town, including Fort St. Catherine. For those less inclined to travelling by horse, hopping on a moped and winding through the town makes a great mode of transport. After exploring the many attractions, stop off at Tobacco Bay, the perfect spot to look out for tropically coloured parrotfish whilst snorkelling in the calm bay pro- tected by limestone rock formations.
As you step away from the past and into the present, exploring the coastline around St. George’s is a must; and there are plenty of options, including going full throttle on a Jet Ski tour, discovering Bermuda’s coral reefs and marine life on a snorkelling excursion, or renting a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and gliding across the turquoise water.
For those looking for something a little more relaxed, there are several rental boat options, including 23-foot pontoon boats, which can hold up to 13 people, or 13 and 16-feet Boston Whalers, perfect for families or couples. If you prefer to set sail with a captain at the helm, spending the day on a catamaran for a half- or full-day trip is also available.
Plenty Of Kickbacks
St. George’s offers plenty of opportunity for those that want to unwind. Whether walking along the many wharfs that stretch along the harbour watching the boats bob along or sit- ting amongst the beautifully kept greenery of Somers’ Garden featuring an Instagram-worthy Bermuda moongate, St. George’s sleepiness is perfect for those looking to slow down. If you’re looking for more guided mindfulness, there is yoga on offer overlooking the harbour. Take a stroll through the maze-like alleys and you’ll find Bermuda’s locally made per- fume, situated amongst rose gardens in a historic 18th-century property. Of course, if beach time beckons, take a trip to nearby St. David’s, where the waves lap gently against the soft white sands of Clearwater and Turtle Bay. After some fun in the sun, head to Tobacco Bay Beach Club for drinks and a true local vibe.
The Getting Is Good
Shopping in St. George’s is distinguished by the variety of unique Bermuda products available from local artisans that have set up shop in the town. Whether it’s sea glass or fine gem jewellery, Bermuda artisan printed scarves or bespoke scented perfumes, there are many options for taking home a piece of the island. Delicious baked goods, beauty products, cigars, as well as the eponymous Bermuda shorts, can all be found in St. George’s shops.
For such a small town, the Town of St. George features a variety of places to stop and grab a bite to eat. Whether you’re looking to pick up sandwiches and snacks to fuel up for a beach picnic or you want to relax and enjoy the comings and goings of the boats on the waterside with a glass of wine, there are a variety of options from cafés, sandwich shops, bakeries, bars and restaurants. Culinary creations await, with restaurants offering inventive menus featuring Bermudian-inspired cuisine; you can also just go with quick standbys and order Chinese food or pizza.
Getting To St. Georges
St. George’s is easily accessible by minibus, taxi, scooter or electric car. You will find Bermuda Rental Car Ltd. and Twizy charging stations in the town. You may also take advantage of Bermuda’s excellent public transportation and head out to St. George’s by bus or ferry. Sea Express Ferry offers a seasonal Orange Route that operates from April to November to St. George’s from Hamilton, via Dockyard (295-4506; marineandports.bm). To take the iconic pink Bermuda Breeze bus ride from Hamilton to St. George’s, choose routes 1, 3, 10 or 11. Or you can take the bus from Dockyard, via Hamilton, to St. George’s (295-3851; gov.bm/bus). Pick up a Transportation Pass, which is good for unlimited rides on the bus and ferry system. Passes cost $19 for one day, $31.50 for two days, $44 for three days, $48.50 for four days and $62 for seven days, with discounted rates for children ages 5 to 16. Children under 5 ride for free. For more information on transportation, please visit the St George’s Visitor Services Centre, located at 25 York Street, or call 297-0556.