This archipelago has it all.
On the third day of my cruise this year, I visited the wonderful British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. While it's not exactly a country, it certainly has its own government and constitution but is also dependent on Britain for defense and foreign relations. It's also not completely a colony because Britain's laws are partially influenced by Bermudians due to their small (yet present) representation in Parliament.
The first thing I noticed when exiting the gangway was the sheer size of the islands and how it impacted living expenses. I can understand why some locals and new residents would have "rock fever" — there's not that much land, to begin with. For starters, the entire landmasses that compose Bermuda stretch to about 20 miles, or about 35 kilometers. That small strip of land in the middle of the North Atlantic is home to 65,000 people. In order to fit that many people into a small space, the required land is not cheap. While I don't have exact figures on house prices, Bermuda is one of the most expensive places to live in the world (a gallon of gas costs ~$10!) and owning a house there with some land will set you back several million dollars.
When exploring the island, my family and I went on a shore excursion which took us across the archipelago to the famous Crystal Caves. When we were cleared to enter the caves, we were astonished to see countless stalagmites and stalactites that were immersed in crystal clear water. Speaking of water, Bermuda's water is so clean; unlike New York City's water, you can't notice even a tinge of pollution.
We also saw the aquarium and zoo, which offered beautiful views of one of Bermuda's landmarks, Harrington Sound. It was also very pleasurable to see flamingos, macaws, lemurs, and tamarins in their respective habitats.
But the best part of the tour was when the tour guide (and bus driver) decided to make extra stops along the way to the pink sand beaches, stopping for a few minutes while we were able to explore the beach and see just what made it pink. The pink sand is made from red coral that got broken into bits by the ocean and finely dispersed in the Bermudian sand, tinting it pink. We also stopped by one of the more famous attractions, Horseshoe Bay, before heading to our last stop — the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. This is the second highest point in Bermuda, and I had the pleasure of climbing every step and circling the observation deck to get excellent pictures of the archipelago.
The seafood there is excellent, and the strong sense of community and nationality that truly transcends racial boundaries in Bermuda make it a fantastic place to live and settle down (of course, if you can deal with the expenses and annual tropical cyclones). Overall, my trip to Bermuda was nothing short of fantastic, and I would love to visit the archipelago again. I just wish I had more time so my family and I could visit Hamilton and its famous Front Street. But I am grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime experience that marked the first place my cruise would open my eyes to.