Of course, those pink sands are alluring. But the best way to experience Bermuda may be to peer deeper into its fascinating history.

By Tracey Minkin
January 03, 2020
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One of Bermuda's many captivating beaches
Photo: Cedric Angeles

It is hard to imagine being excited about leaving Bermuda's heralded pink-sand beaches. Until you meet Kristin White. Or climb the steep stairs to the 17th-century Old State House. Or climb the broad stairs to Rosedon Hotel, a superbly restored circa-1906 manor house, and take traditional English afternoon tea on its deep and shaded front porch.

This is the intoxicating call of history on an island famed for romance, but which goes far beyond the honeymoon. And the most resonant place to fall into that embrace is in the tiny, fascinating township of St. George. And in the company of White.

Kristin White
Courtesy Kristin White

A writer, entrepreneur, and chronicler of the complex history of her home island, White leads tours along the narrow byways of its original capital, first settled by the British in 1612 and now preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And what she adds to the historical conversation is a clear-eyed vision of the role of enslavement in Bermuda's history and culture. With White, it's possible to see the impact of ultimately freed black men who were esteemed for their ship piloting skills, the influence of African worship and foodways on contemporary life, and the ways the offspring of enslaved Native Americans have formed a community on Bermuda's island of St. David's, which 400 years later is getting the recognition it deserves. In White's ebullient, piercing company, St. George—and by extension, Bermuda—appear anew.

It's bracing, vital stuff. Take time to meander the town after your tour, regarding landmarks like the circa-1612 St. Peter's Church, and the black cemetery nearby, with a new appreciation for the layers that inform them. Then return to Rosedon Hotel and enjoy the fragrant reminder, at tea, of empire and realize that every story—even in paradise—is full of paradox and depth.

The bright exterior of historic Rosedon Hotel
Courtesy Rosedon Hotel
The gracious interiors of Rosedon Hotel
Courtesy Rosedon Hotel

READY TO GO? For a luxuriously historic stay, the recently renovated Rosedon Hotel is a dream. The main house, with its bright blue shutters and canopies dotting its stately, brightly white edifice, is home to a heralded new restaurant, Huckleberry (the property is now a Relais & Châteaux), and hides a pool amid its lushly landscaped gardens behind. And should the pink sands beckon, the hotel offers a free shuttle to Elbow Beach. Rates start at $380. For more on Kristin White's work and tours, go to kristindotcom.com.