Bermuda’s Wild Side
Bermuda has more than golf courses and tennis courts. We explore the island beyond its manicured lawns.
“Don’t worry if you are claustrophobic,” said our tour guide, Ashley Harris, as we snapped on white hard hats and headlamps and slipped, like novice contortionists, through a narrow crevice into the million-year-old wonderworld of a Walsingham cavern.
The naturalist and co-owner of Hidden Gems of Bermuda, the island’s premier eco-tour company, immediately put our intrepid group of seven at ease as we entered and made our way down damp rocks to the cave’s stalactite-filled inner chamber. We gathered under a crystal canopy.
Outside, the humidity pricked my skin. But inside, the air was still and cool and smelled of minerals and earth. We’d discovered our own treasure.
“This cave is not on the tourist path,” said Harris. “Few know how to find their way here. It’s one of the island’s many secrets.” She also explained there are over 125 crystal caves in Hamilton Parish alone. No wonder pirates loved Bermuda, we joked.
I knew I wanted to see and know another side of the island during my stay at Tucker’s Point, and I was inspired by the reviews I’d read of Harris’ excellent tour company, which she runs with her father. “I learned everything I know about the flora of Bermuda from him,” she explained.
While Harris introduces visitors to many sides of Bermuda—historic St. David’s Lighthouse; the preserved coral reef and pristine pink sands of Cooper’s Island, a snorkeler’s paradise; and the banyan groves and giant lizards of the Southlands—it was the journey into Tom Moore’s Jungle and Blue Hole Hill that intrigued me most.
Our gentle hike took us on a path carved through a tangle of green. We stopped to look at the area’s fruiting and medicinal plants, to admire loquat and Surinam cherry trees. Shell ginger leaves appeared furled like conchs, and we paid homage to a nearly 500-year-old palmetto tree. My favorite experience, however, was rubbing the leaves of the fragrant Warwick allspice on our pulse points for some of nature’s perfume—an exotic blend of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Much of the flora, I learned, could only be found on the island.
Fittingly, we ended our wild Bermudian adventure with a view into the maw of a cerulean sinkhole on Blue Hole Hill. Everyone in the group had come prepared with swimsuits—and was encouraged to channel their 14-year-old selves and jump into the water from the overhanging cliffs, some 15 feet above.
“Trust me, this is the grand finale,” said Harris, who disappeared into the beckoning blue like a taunting siren.