Dockyard’s tiny-town sort of feel is just the right scale for kids. Getting there is half the fun. The Sea Express fast ferry from the Hamilton Ferry Terminal ($8 return adults, $4 children 5–16, kids under 5 free) is a blast, even for grown-up kids. The 20-minute ride darts across the breezy Great Sound with lots of boats, houses, and skylines to take in.
At Dockyard, exit the ferry and head right, following the main road around to Bermuda Maritime Museum, where kids can learn loads about pirates, shipwrecks, and gold treasure in Bermuda waters over the centuries. The lower floor of Commissioner’s House appeals to young museum-goers with its cave-like maze of interlocking rooms, where exhibits feature giant cannons, forts, and local soldiers from the 1600s to the 1900s. Upstairs, kids can admire sweeping views of the entire North Shore from the building’s king-of-the-mountain upper balcony. Just don’t let them climb the railing!
Dolphin Quest (15 Maritime Ln., tel. 441/234-4464, www.dolphinquest.org) is located on the southern part of the lower grounds. The mutual appeal of dolphins and kids is adorable, and while actually swimming with the clever mammals is a wonderful experience, just watching them cavort in the Keep Pond is almost as much fun. It’s free with admission to the museum.
Outside, to the right of the museum gates, is the Dockyard Playground (admission free), complete with pirate ship apparatus to scramble aboard, turn captain’s wheels, and descend via a tunneled slide. There are swings, too. Kids can spend a good couple of hours here, except in the heat of summer when it’s grilling by mid-morning. If they get too hot, there’s a fountain designed perfectly for youngsters to get soaked in.
Through the adjacent gate is the Snorkel Park (31 Freeport Rd., tel. 441/234-6989, closed Nov.–Mar.), a great little beach for kids, with tons of amenities and playthings. Rent a noodle, mask, and snorkel, or a floating chair, or swim out to the pontoons and climb up a slide to whoosh into the bay. Adults like the beachside bar, just a few meters from the water’s edge. There are large washrooms and a café serving hot dogs, burgers, and other lunchtime staples sure to please waterlogged youngsters.
Alternatively, the Frog & Onion serves up hearty pub grub inside, or under umbrellas on the indoor terrace. There’s a large game room in the back, with coin-operated video games and a pool table. If the family saves room for dessert, don’t miss Nannini’s Haagen Dazs, a popular ice-cream bar in the Clocktower Mall. Bermuda kids make Mom and Dad drive the length of the island just to come here for the two-scoop sugar cones, numerous rich flavors—and rainbow sprinkles.
Several branch stores in the mall will be of interest to parents and kids: Iana stocks colorful, well-made Italian togs for girls and boys; Pulp & Circumstance, like its popular Hamilton outlets, has stuffed animals, baby gear, and gift items; and Daisy & Mac is a riot of color and fun, with art supplies, puzzles, toys, costumes, and outfits.
Finally (if they’re still awake), Neptune Cinema occasionally shows children’s matinees, mainly during midterm breaks and Easter and summer holidays. Get some popcorn and candy and relax in the air-conditioned interior, which is smaller than some home theaters.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition