A Bermuda Camp Out
Crowds of locals lounging under roadside tarpaulins, blasting their stereos and barbecuing four-course meals — no, it’s not squatters or a sudden outbreak of homelessness, just the start of camping season, Bermudian-style.
Bermuda may lack North America’s natural drama and absolute serenity of the great outdoors, but camping is a beloved summer ritual nonetheless. True, it’s difficult to retreat far from the madding crowd in an island with so little undeveloped land, but for islanders, that’s not really the point. Bermudians simply enjoy the change of scenery and routine, coupled with the camaraderie of outdoor living, even if they do they take all the comforts of home with them — everything including the kitchen sink.
“I saw one guy with his laptop and a 52-inch TV, which he was running from the battery of his dump truck,” recalls Craig Burt, camping coordinator for the Parks Department. “Bermudians don’t like to leave anything behind.”
Come July and August, particularly the four-day Cup Match public holiday that falls between these months, Bermudians set up camp all over the island — in public parks, on roadsides, and along the South Shore dunes. At the height of camping season, virtual tent villages sprawl along the North Shore waterfront, along Kindley Field Road at Ferry Reach, between Warwick Long Bay and Horseshoe Bay, and everywhere in between.
Whole families turn out, with camping accoutrements and picnic fare galore, to swim, rest, spend time with friends and relatives, wave to passing traffic, and generally enjoy time off work. While camping is technically restricted to Bermuda residents, cruise ship workers and visitors are allowed to camp if they register with the Parks Department and are staying in a hotel, guesthouse, private residence, or on a ship.
Camping season runs from the first Saturday in May through the third Sunday in September. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis, and fees ($100 refundable deposit, and $12 a night per site) must be paid at booking. There are four designated government campgrounds: Ferry Point Park, St. George’s; Higgs and Horseshoe Islands, St. George’s; Coney Island, St. George’s; and Chaplin Bay, Warwick.
Campsites managed by private groups are also open at various islands in Hamilton and St. George’s Harbors and the Great Sound, including Hen Island and Paget Island in the East End, and White’s Island, Darrell’s Island, Ports Island, and Burt Island. Camping is permitted at all parks and beaches over major official holidays, such as Cup Match.
Conditions of camping in Bermuda include:
- • The use of proper tents
- • Three tents of 180 square feet each are allowed per site
- • No wood fires are permitted; charcoal, propane, or liquid fuel stoves are allowed in metal containers, but ashes should be soaked with saltwater and disposed of
- • Cooking in tents is prohibited
- • Maximum stay on any site is six weeks
- • Garbage should be bagged and dumped at the nearest trash can
- • Cutting of trees and branches, or excavation of the ground, is forbidden
- • A maximum of eight people per site is allowed
- • Generators are not permitted in government campgrounds
- • Dogs are not allowed
- • “Checkout” is 4 p.m. and the site must be vacant for 48 hours.
For more information or to report problems, contact the Park Ranger Office, tel. 441/236-5902 or 441/239-2355, or fax 411/236-3711.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition