Bermuda: The Impossible Budget Destination

By Nomadic Matt | Published August 15th, 2013

bermuda beaches and clear blue waterIs it possible to travel Bermuda cheaply? It’s a good question, one that deserves an answer. When I was 12, my father took my sister and me to Bermuda to surprise my mom, who was there on a cruise with my grandmother. We spent four days sweltering in the heat, swimming at the beach, and eating at Henry VIII (where my dad swears I told a girl she had nice hooters. I still don’t believe him).

Lately, Bermuda’s been on my mind again. I’ve been thinking about going there for a few months, since it’s a close flight from New York City.

And now, older and not that much wiser, I wondered: could the land of rich people, celebrities, bankers, and tax-avoiding corporations really be enjoyed on a budget? Bermuda isn’t known as a cheap destination. Being the frugal traveler I am, I didn’t want to spend much money, but what’s the absolute minimum one needs while there?

As it turns out, a lot.

Way more than $50 a day.

After my four-day visit there, I can tell you that it’s nearly impossible to go to Bermuda on a budget. Realistically, you need about $175 a day.

Why? There are two main reasons:

bermuda blue water and beaches

First, accommodation is stupidly expensive (there are no hostels on the island). The cheapest accommodation costs around $100 a night for apartment rentals found via Airbnb, HomeAway, or Bermuda Rentals. If you book at least a month in advance or know someone, you might be able to find a room for as little as $75 a night. (I booked last-minute so ended up paying $125 per night.)

Secondly, transportation around the island is difficult. The bus system here, while cheap, is infrequent, and many routes stop around 7pm. If you aren’t staying in a central location, this can be problematic. Additionally, taxis are expensive. A short 10-minute ride can cost $20 USD. And if you’re visiting far-off beaches and attractions or coming back late at night, you’ll definitely need a taxi. You’re guaranteed to take at least one taxi ride a day.

So is it possible to visit Bermuda cheaply?

bermuda beaches and clear blue water
There are, in fact, ways to spend less money on this island, but it will take a little more planning and creativity. Here’s what you do:

Book early – If you want cheap accommodation, you’ll need to book rooms at least a month in advance. Avoid hotels and resorts and instead stay at a bed and breakfast or home rental property. If you’re staying with a group, definitely rent a large apartment, as it’s far less per person than a hotel room.

bermuda beaches and clear blue waterCouchsurf – There are only 15 Couchsurfing hosts in Bermuda. Many of them have private rooms available, but if you want to succeed in reserving one, make sure you inquire really early in order to maximize your chances of success.

Rent a motorbike – Motorbikes are the most convenient and economical transportation on the island. Since buses are infrequent and taxis expensive, having a motorcycle will give you more freedom to travel at a lower cost. Motorbike rentals begin at around $50 a day but get cheaper the longer you rent them; 4 days will cost an average of $35 per day. Two popular rental companies are Elbow Beach Cycles and Oleander Cycles.

Stay central – While Hamilton is not set on a beautiful, pink-sand beach, it’s the center for all the buses and ferries leaving the city. If you rent an apartment and aren’t careful, you can end up somewhere far from a bus stop (which means more taxis). Staying in or near Hamilton will ensure you’re near all the bus lines and can avoid spending too much money on taxis.

bermuda cove

Skip the fancy food – There’s good food on Bermuda, but it’s expensive. Avoid all the big, fancy restaurants (OK, enjoy one nice meal) and go for smaller stalls and local restaurants where prices, though still high, are more economical. My two favorite places were Specialty Inn and North Rock Brewing Co. Additionally, the cafe at Cambridge Resorts is reasonably priced despite being at a resort. Most meals will cost $10–20 USD.

Cook – If you skipped the hotel and rented an apartment, you’ll have a kitchen. There’s an ever-growing local and organic foodie scene on the island. You can find a lot of cheap fruits, vegetables, and meats at markets and shops, which will help lower your costs dramatically.

bermuda blue water and beaches

Overall, if you find a Couchsurfing host, you can probably do Bermuda for around $70–80 USD per day. Otherwise, you’re looking at around $175 per day.

Despite the drain on my wallet, my trip to Bermuda was amazing. As you can tell from the photos, everything you’ve ever heard about Bermuda is true. This is truly island paradise, with warm, clear water lapping pink-sand beaches.

looking out onto the water in bermuda

But what makes Bermuda truly paradise are the locals. The Bermudians were always helpful, friendly, and welcoming. Everywhere I went people were talkative and sincere. The woman in charge of our rented room was very hospitable and fed us dinner and breakfast while her family described life in Bermuda (apparently, it’s not just for the newly rich or nearly dead anymore!). We met a nice guy at the bus stop who randomly ended up giving us a ride into Hamilton, and then there was the waiter who kept telling us to have a “Bermudaful day.” (Plus countless other little things that made me fall in love with Bermuda.)

So go to Bermuda.

It won’t be cheap — but it will be beautiful.

comments 61 Comments

A lot of island seem to be this way. But there have to be some around Bermuda which might be off the beaten track and cheaper – but then again getting there could be expensive. I think your tips definitely applies to a lot of similar places.

Michael

Maria, there are no other islands around Bermuda. It’s situated in the middle of the Atlantic by itself, not in the Caribbean Islands.

Wow so pretty! We’ve never been to Bermuda but would like to soon.

Matt from Saverocity

You can fly there for free and there are a bunch of hotels – Fairmont has two on the island, which is co branded with Chase.

Fly using BA Avios on AA from JFK

NomadicMatt

Travel hacking can get you everywhere but that’s another article in itself! :)

Abby

Hi! How can you fly there for free? Thank you!

Rebecca

Actually, it sounds a lot like where I live, which is a ski resort. I think most resort areas would be difficult to visit cheaply.

I went to Bermuda in on a budget in November 2011. Traveling in the off season certainly helped, as well as renting a moped. We chose to stay in Southhampton to save money on transportation and be near the beach which was our priority. Beach is also certainly cheaper than the drinks we would have purchased in Hamilton! My post on the trip is in the URL.

NomadicMatt

Where in Southampton did you stay?

Great Natalie will check out your site!

These are great tips. However, Bermuda looks absolutely gorgeous and I wouldn’t mind splurging a bit on it! I shouldn’t be reading this at work. That water looks too tempting right now.

Happy travels! :)

Would it be feasableto rent a pedal bike rather than a moped in Bermuda?

I don’t know just how vast Bermuda is as I’ve never had the opportunity to visit, but perhaps a pedal bike would save a few bucks, get you some valuable exercise and help you slow down to see and enjoy more of the island. Maybe I’m way off base…

Opinions?

When we went, there was not much patience on the road for a slow-driving scooter, and drivers were not exactly content to stay behind you for very long. I’m sure a roadbike would not be too much slower, but it’s even more dangerous, as the drivers whir past you at the earliest possible moment (there’s very few alt. routes on the islands to get where you need to go, so I don’t quite blame them… and I’m sure locals get sick of tourists on scooters like I was). I would avoid a road bike simply because most of the roads actually look like Matt’s 4th picture on the post above—narrow as crap, and no sidewalks 80% of the time.

That being said, I’m sure it’s not impossible, and it’d be a pretty cool experience as long as you were somewhat careful about where you went, and took the bus when you know there’s gonna be a tight fit.

NomadicMatt

I second what they said. The roads are narrow and there are hardly any sidewalks. You can bike there but it’s not for the faint of heart and the locals I stayed with advised against it when I arrived saying “you’ll see why when you step onto the roads.”

Dawn Randall

My friend, Carole, and I were just talking about making a trip to Bermuda the week after Christmas, Matt! Thanks for the info and inspiration!

May be more than $50 per day…but a little piece of paradise is totally worth it! Have not been to Bermuda but am a huge fan of the sand and beach scene in the Caribbean!

I hear you on this, I live in NY myself and have been following deals for Bermuda since last summer. It is so expensive and nevermind the winter months, if I am going to spend money I want the water and the nights to be at least mid 70′s. The weather I watched this past year was very rainy and low 60′s throughout the fall, winter, and autumn. I hope to go there in July or August and risk my chance of a hurricane than freeze and pay a lot.

Beach sleeping frowned on? No campie camping? :)

I got un-lazy and google my own answer to my own question. No sleeping on the pink sand. Oh well.

NomadicMatt

Yup, camping and beach sleeping is not allowed. I checked before I went! :(

Looks beautiful there in Bermuda.. Sounds a bit expensive though.. Maybe couchsurfing and coconuts would suffice and keep a man alive!

The Caribbean is a part of the world I haven’t yet touched properly. I’m pretty much saving it for a time when I have a bit more money and can island and country hop on a different type of budget than my current one. It’s nice to have an honest post from the budget travel expert that gives an admission that some places just arent that cheap such as Bermuda. I’d imagine other parts of the Caribbean as well as countries like Bhutan and North Korea are also hard on $50 US a day, as I’ll find out on one of my next trips. Matt – it would be nice for you to do a post called “Places you can’t do on the $50 a day but I sure as hell tried!” definitely room for it! Safe travels, Jonny

NomadicMatt

Hmmmm that’s actually an awesome post idea. Consider it on the list to be written!

So beautiful, the beaches look stunning. I loved Aruba for that reason. Bermuda does sound expensive but I think that’s part of the appeal. The exclusiveness of it if you like – it makes you feel special and it is great for a treat!

Fantastic pictures as always Matt,
My ultimate question is:
Since bermuda is on the other side of the planet for me. Is it worth traveling across the earth for, or should I instead wait until I find myself closer (like you).
I live in Korea, so Thailand is a modest plane ride away.

NomadicMatt

I’d wait until you were in the area to go.

beautiful pictures, I need to go!

Great article, I love how you break it down. And it’s absolutely true. A friend of mine who travels the world for work told me that in her company, Bermuda has the highest per diem allowance (anywhere!) for food expenses, which I thought was pretty telling.

Amazing blog post! Bermuda would definitely be in my Next year’s Travel bucket list…

Last picture is awesome..

So when is someone going to step up and build a hostel there? :-)

I you say there are cheap flights from NYC clearly there would be some demand from backpackers… get more of us visiting and I’m sure other living costs will start to come down as well.

NomadicMatt

My guess is that there are no hostels there for a reason. The people probably don’t want them there.

While we were there, the hotel staff explained that they get very little fresh water there, being a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. That is why all of the buildings have rain gutters that save the water. The water tax on hotel rooms is hefty…so I would think that even a hostel here would not be on the low end cost wise. What % of your bill was the water tax?

kevin

I’m thinking of going for Thanksgiving weekend (Thurs-Sunday). Is 3 days enough there? The island itself seems small, so I figured I’d go mainly for the beaches.

NomadicMatt

Three days is enough for a good overview. I was only there for four days.

Kathy

Remember Bermuda is not warm all year round. It has similar temps to North/South Carolina. Bermuda during Thanksgiving and Christmas would not be beach weather…..

kevinn g

why not just pick a less costly destination>? this is not the only beautiful island in the vicinity of USA -go to Cuba (from Mexico or Canada) ?

NomadicMatt

There are plenty of cheap destinations in the world but I want to see everywhere so that eventually means I’ll have to go somewhere expensive. :(

rickf

thank you for being refreshingly honest. r

Chris

The Norwegian Breakaway also roundtrips from NYC to Bermuda seasonally and stays a few nights. Cost is very reasonable and ship is brand new. Just wanted to throw another option out their.

Hey Matt, the last pic is timeless. Thanks for the post!

Some beautiful shots Matt. I’d love to head there one day, it’s always conjured up images of ‘lost paradise’ if you know what I mean!

I can’t believe motorbike hire is soo expensive. Bermuda almost sounds as pricey as Australia :)

NomadicMatt

While expensive, I think Australia has many more ways to travel on a budget. You can do Australia on far less than $175 a day!

some great tips! looks like a beautiful place to visit

Agree with Maria. That’s why I’d rather visit islands in eastern Indonesia. Same natural beauty, similar warmth. Although accommodations and transportation system are not as well-developed, there are warm people willing to accept you at their homes at a reasonable price.

Bermuda looks really beautiful, but very expensive. Visit El Nido in Palawan and you won’t regret it. According to Travel + Leisure it is the best Island in the world.

Bermuda is lovely. I spent my honeymoon there 10 years ago. 10 days and it cost a boat load. We stayed at Cambridge Resorts and had a fabulous time. The hotel found us a local driver who took us around the island for less than a taxi. Maybe people could find something like that through their hotel or beforehand online and do a lot of the further away beaches in one day and not need so many cabs each and every day. We loved the snorkeling and deep sea fishing here and of course, my husband wore his knee socks for dinner. There were more than a few (not cheap) restaurants that still had a dress code. The island is so lovely that you don’t have to do much to really enjoy its beauty. We want to take the kids there so now is the time for me to think about budgets and travel hacking our way there!

Hoping to go here someday! :)

Christina Trifonov

I’m from Bermuda so I enjoyed reading this post for fun :)

I have recently visit the Bermuda with my friends and really enjoyed a great holidays there. I must tell that Bermuda is the best and lovely destination for budget holidays.

Wouw, I believe you had a good time there.
Anyway, I wanna ask you a question. You often do solo travel and what will you do with your important things like wallet, mobile phone, camera or your other expensive things if you wanna swim or like play with the wave in the sea? (In the case than you are alone, no people to trust and no safety box in your homestay) this is out of topic but i just wanna know your opinion, thanks before :)

As per my personal experience, Bermuda is such a nice destination for budget travel. I really love to spent time there caused of its fantastic beaches and hotels accommodation.

I have visited Bermuda on budget. Actually I got paid to go there, because I worked on a cruise ship. Loved it. Especially beaches.

Hi…Nomadic Matt,

I always love to read your blog and know some interesting regarding to travel. Bermuda is very beautiful destination to visit with friends and spend amazing holidays.

Found out it’s only 7.5K Avois RT from NYC to go to Bermuda, looks like I will be heading over there during holiday season :D

Sorry, I meant 7.5K one way, 15K RT :D

Have you ever considered a cruise to Burmuda? I’ve looked into them and a lot of them leave from New York or I believe South Carolina and are a 3 + days long. But on average you can find them for about $40-$50 a day and thats including your own room, as much food as you can eat, and on board activities. Plus they take you to different Island usually. The only downer is you don’t get to live it up with the locals.

Colleen

Another money saving tip is to purchase your alcohol from your departing airport! You’ll save a lot by doing this. We rented W33 A & B, The Owners were Wonderful & Their Property is Amazing, A shirt walk to the bus, Mopeds are the way to go.

Tony

I go every year the last 2 years it has been with my 2 girls. One of my checked bags is a cooler. Packed with drinks, snacks and some food to cookout for at least 2 days. Being that my girls are little if we do eat out they share a meal most of time they don’t eat it anyway. ….lol. In the cooler you can freeze your bottled water so your food stays cold and now you have bottle water for your trip. You can take most anything just no fruits and vegetables. Once your cooler is empty you can pack all the stuff you bought to bring back…..lol

Many of the islands’ hotels offer a 3rd or 4th night free until the end of April. Makes it a little more affordable! Bermuda is on my To-do list for 2014!

Tony Mazz

Hi Matt,

Been to Bermuda a few times and returning for the 6th time this June, I was hoping you could expand on your comments below regarding the location of the market? Where exactly is it and is it like a flea market (open air market). What day and time…etc. Thanks Tony

“There’s an ever-growing local and organic foodie scene on the island. You can find a lot of cheap fruits, vegetables, and meats at markets “

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