Bermuda: Island Life: A Born & Bred Bermudian

Last Updated: 20 January 2017
Article by Lilla Zuill

Lilla Zuill currently hails from our Hong Kong office, but is originally from Bermuda. Lilla's description of Bermudian life is a great insight to island life from a true locals perspective. 

"You go to heaven if you want to, I'd rather stay right here in Bermuda."

Mark Twain's description of these lush, viridian islands situated in the warm, clear-as-glass Sargasso sea (less than 700 miles from the US east coast) is one that residents of this British colony love to repeat – with some justification.

The American author of 'Tom Sawyer' and frequent visitor to Bermuda was writing about his favourite holiday hotspot more than 100 years ago. (He last visited here in 1909, a few months before his death.)

But while times have changed for much of the world since the beginning of the 20th Century, Twain's words still resonate for many Bermudians in a way that he would appreciate today. The island maintains an old-world charm, a politeness and a civility amongst its people that is hard to find anywhere else in the world.

Whilst old fashioned values may prevail, that's not to say that Bermuda hasn't moved with the times. The island's economy is today driven by international business, most notably as the world's largest offshore insurance and reinsurance market, earning Bermuda the nickname of "the world's risk capital".

Bermuda's ability to fashion itself into a leading business jurisdiction is due to any number of factors, not least the fact that it is a well regulated, stable common law jurisdiction. Take, for example, Jardine Matheson & Company's decision in the mid-1980s to move its place of incorporation from Hong Kong to Bermuda, citing Bermuda's long-established legal system and its ties to Britain, including a right of final appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

Today, the island boasts a dedicated and very active commercial court. Bermuda's Chief Justice Ian Kawaley has done much since he took the judicial helm in April 2012 to build on the island's already solid reputation as a respected legal jurisdiction, especially in the area of cross border insolvency.

The island's sub-tropical climate and top-notch hotels and restaurants have no doubt helped to put an extra sheen on Bermuda's appeal. Just around the corner from the Commercial Court, for example, on a tree-lined stretch of Reid Street is Rock Island Coffee, a favourite spot for visiting Queen's Counsel to wander over to for coffee when there is a short adjournment in proceedings. One is spoiled for choice for dinner spots but I would suggest that you are unlikely to go wrong in making a reservation at Barracuda Grill or Red (Burnaby Street and Front Street, respectively). Upscale watering hole Port O Call on Front Street (Hamilton's main street, running alongside Hamilton Harbour) is the place to see and be seen and also houses a sushi restaurant upstairs (Pearl) and a private dining room.  In summer, the "1609" bar at the Hamilton Princess Hotel is the best place to watch a beautiful sunset. (The Hand-shaken Bartender's Colada gets my vote as the perfect sundowner – a tall, not-too-sweet mix of four rums and coconut that, I hasten to add, bears little resemblance to the frothy cocktail of similar name.)

Sun, surf and sport

There's another Twain quote that Bermudians are perhaps less enthusiastic to repeat: "Golf is a good walk spoiled."

Today the island boasts more golf courses per capita than anywhere else on the globe, although Twain would today still no doubt find many unspoilt walks along this 21 square miles of rock in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.

Golf – and sport in general – is one area where the island continues to gain traction as a top visitor destination. The PGA Grand Slam of Golf has been held on the island in recent years and Bermuda will host the 35th Americas Cup from 26 May to 27 June 2017.

The island also boasts some of the best dive sites in the world, thanks in part to the record-number of shipwrecks that have succumbed to its rocky coastline. Indeed, the island's first settlers shipwrecked here in 1609.

If international business and world-class sport aren't enough of a draw, there are a few other selling points, namely the stunning beauty of its environment, its heritage, and the warmth of its people.

Twain might have compared Bermuda to heaven, but modern-day Bermudians have another description for it – "another world". Were he alive now, Twain would no doubt agree.

I'm just happy to be able to call it "home".

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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