As one might guess from its infamous reputation as one of the most hazardous oceanic regions in history, Bermuda is filled with amazing ship wrecks that draw scuba divers from all over the world. However, aside from the estimated 300 ships that lie beneath the Atlantic Ocean and draw wreck diving enthusiasts, Bermuda is actually a thriving coral reef that measures around 200 square miles. Together with picturesque sandy beaches that are almost pink in hue and a wide variety of land and water activities on offer, Bermuda is a great holiday destination for divers and non-divers alike.
Bermuda’s large protected reef plateau is part of the reason that so many ships have met their end in these waters, yet underwater it is the epitome of a healthy reef system with more than 650 marine species to be found. Of the estimated 300 ship wrecks in this area of the Atlantic Sea, only 150 wrecks have been discovered, and at least 35 of these wreck sites are accessible for recreational divers as they lie in depths shallower than 70 feet. The wrecks include steamships, cruise liners, cargo freighters, gunships, frigates and sailing vessels, with the oldest being the Virginia Merchant which dates back to 1661. In addition to the many wreck sites where recreational divers can experience a taste of history beneath the water’s surface, there are also grottos, caves and tunnels to explore around Bermuda’s reefs.
Not only does Bermuda have a fascinating maritime history, but it is also a geographically interesting place. Located in the Atlantic Sea over 600 miles east of the United States, Bermuda does not form part of the islands of the Caribbean, but rather is made up of 181 islets and islands that surround a shallow lagoon known as the Bermuda Platform. Eight of the biggest islands surrounding the Bermuda Platform are connected together with bridge systems, allowing for easier access for locals and guests. Visitors can easily hop from one island to the next making use of public buses or rental motorbikes, which offer a unique way to see the different sights.
Bermuda offers far more than just wreck diving, with a multitude of land and water activities to suit all interests. Tennis, horseback riding and nature reserve hiking are some of the popular land activities, while fishing, snorkeling and of course wreck diving are some of the most popular water-based activities. Golf enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the island of Bermuda holds the record for the largest number of premium golf courses located on an island, with a total of 7 championship golf courses and a premium golfing academy. Bermuda is also the host of the annual PGA Grand Slam, a fact that would bring this island up to the top of any golf enthusiast’s bucket list.
Bermuda is also home to a number of traditional historic sightseeing opportunities including museums and forts that document its colorful history. Influenced by African roots and British colonialism thanks to the island hosting one of Britain’s most important naval bases, Bermuda is a unique place with fascinating architecture and a fusion of world cuisines and cultures.
Bermuda Dive Sites
Often known as the jewel of the Atlantic, Bermuda hosts an array of underwater treasures beneath the surface of its beautiful azure waters. Luckily for divers, scuba diving in Bermuda can be experienced at any time of year, and with many experienced dive operators to choose from, arranging a dive is a simple affair. Beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean divers will find extensive coral reef systems, wreck sites and a labyrinth of cave systems, tunnels and grottos to explore.
Marine life around Bermuda is diverse and plentiful. The inshore areas are protected spaces and serve as a haven for fish of all types. When diving, divers might see grouper, eagle rays and tarpon as well as eels, lobster, flatworms and other critters that add to the healthy and complex coral reef system.
When it comes to wreck diving, Bermuda is a wreck diving mecca. One of the most popular vessels to dive for wreck enthusiasts and photographers is the fully intact Hermes cargo freighter. Purposefully sunk in 1984 by the dive association, this 165-foot freighter stands upright and is home to a fantastic array of marine life. Thanks to excellent visibility in almost all conditions, divers at the Hermes wreck site in Bermuda might see schools of barracuda, sergeant majors and damselfish to name just a few. The Hermes is easy to enter and exit and divers can enter all areas of the ship including the galley, the engine room, the pilothouse, the cargo hold and even the crew quarters.
For one of the most famous and historic wrecks in Bermuda, divers should look no further than the Marie Celeste. This paddle-wheel steamer was once a food and ammunition smuggler for the civil war and was rumored to have been ruined by the reef thanks to bribery, corruption and apparent poor navigation. Divers are able to descend to a depth of 55 feet and explore the engine, bow, boilers, stern and the two iconic paddle wheels while swimming past eagle rays and large groupers.
At 385 feet long, the Pelinaion was a Greek cargo steamer and is one of the biggest diveable wrecks in Bermuda. After running aground as a result of a navigational mishap in 1940, the Pelinaion now lies in 2 pieces at depths of between 20 and 70 feet. Divers might see snapper and grunters swarming around the steam boilers and engine, while blue angelfish and barracuda can be found around the anchor and propeller.
Bermuda’s climate is pleasant throughout the year, with the possibility of diving and good visibility (70-130 feet) year-round. Summer in Bermuda falls between the months of May to October, where temperatures are between 23°C and 29°C (75°F and 85°F). Water temperatures are similar to the air temperature, and so a 3mm wetsuit or a 5mm wetsuit in winter is recommended as the water can drop to 18°C or 65°F. In winter, the air temperature is an average of 21°C or 70°F and although hurricanes are possible, most hotels are fully prepared and even offer a ‘Hurricane Guarantee’ for visitors.
Bermuda has a number of dive operators across the island, and so arranging a dive should not be a difficult procedure. It is, however, a good idea to communicate with your chosen provider before arranging travel to ensure that you are able to dive your chosen sites at the time of year you are travelling. Ideally suited for beginners or those looking to gain diving experience, Bermuda offers a number of shallow sites that are all within 20 minutes boat ride. Divers with more experience are certainly challenged in Bermuda with a host of sites suitable for advanced divers including deeper dives, challenging caves and wrecks.
Some dive operators will also help to arrange other water-based activities such as kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, sailing, snorkeling and motor boating.
How to get to Bermuda
Bermuda is relatively easy to reach from a number of countries including the UK, Canada and of course the US. Located on the east side of Bermuda island, Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport can be reached in under 2 hours via United, US Airways, Jet Blue, Delta, AirTran or American Airlines. Flights from the UK are likely to be operated by British Airways and visitors coming from Canada can catch an Air Canada flight to visit Bermuda. Bermuda is also reachable by cruise ship with 3 major stops along the way: Hamilton Harbour, King’s Wharf and Heritage Wharf. The cruise ship operators that travel this route are Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and the Norwegian Cruise Line.