Flatts Village (North Shore Road), or “Flatts” as everything in the general vicinity is located in local lingo, has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts over the past decade, with a tasteful renovation of its smattering of shops and architecturally interesting cottages, as well as the addition of new restaurants, much-needed sidewalks, and a revamped marina.
The tiny community lies on the eastern band of Flatts Inlet, a finger of shallow-edged turquoise harbor that links Harrington Sound to the ocean. Directly opposite Flatts on the inlet lies the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo, the area’s main attraction. Aside from the few restaurants and an ice cream parlor, there’s virtually nothing to do in Flatts Village itself except ogle the tide as the ocean sweeps in and out of the pristine Sound twice a day, the two-knot current creating the nearest thing to river rapids for wannabe white-water kayakers.
Sport anglers return to port at sunset, while those with less high-tech accoutrements simply cast their lines over Flatts Bridge and nearby docks when weather permits. Fishing is supposedly illegal off island bridges, but the rule seems to be widely ignored and, judging by the pastime’s popularity, rarely enforced. Line fishing is allowed from the rocks beneath the bridge, however, and containers for disposing of old fishing line—a hazard for turtles and other marinelife—have been installed here.
Jumping and diving off the bridge into the rushing tide is a favorite activity of daredevil youth on the summer days. In the early mornings or evenings, spotted eagle rays and larger manta rays can be seen swooping beneath, as they commute between the Sound and the shore beyond.
The area is historically important, since Flatts was one of Bermuda’s earliest and busiest settlements of the 17th and 18th centuries, when travel and communication between the parishes was primarily by boat. Like other sheltered harbor settlements, including Crow Lane, Ely’s Harbor, and Riddell’s Bay, Flatts became a center for trade—and a refuge for smugglers fleeing customs duties levied by Hamilton and St. George’s. “Later, when Bermudians turned to shipbuilding and overseas trading, these villages took on the significance of home ports,” wrote historian William Zuill in his 1946 parish tour, Bermuda Journey.
The sleepy whimsy formerly found in Flatts has been mostly lost in the noise and speed of today’s nonstop traffic, which flows through the village via North Shore Road—as well as summer’s marine rush hour at day’s end in the inlet.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition