The balmy winds and pink-sand beaches of Bermuda feel millions of miles from Philadelphia (which is exactly how you want your honeymoon to feel, right?), so it’s easy to forget that the magical little island is a mere 570 miles off the coast of North Carolina. And once you’ve been, and seen the lush greens of the vegetation and the clear aqua waters, felt the warm sun on your skin and sipped fruity drinks under an umbrella on the beach, you’ll wonder why anyone would spend half a day on a plane or lose precious hours to jetlag when this tropical paradise is a little more than two hours by plane.
BY DAY: If you’re even a casual golfer, Bermuda is your place: Eight courses dot the island’s 22 square miles (that’s the most golf per square mile anywhere in the world), each with its own postcard-worthy views from the greens. (There’s a reason people like Michael Douglas and Ross Perot have chosen this stunning island as a home.) And in addition to offering all the usual beach-retreat activities (including particularly excellent scuba diving and snorkeling, thanks to the reefs that encircle the island), Bermuda’s also something of a spa hot spot—you’ll find top-tier treatments at nearly every resort. One superstar is the luxe day spa at Rosewood Tucker’s Point, which offers an aqua-therapy treatment featuring an automated 18-head shower (yes, it is as heavenly as it sounds); every sort of massage imaginable given in private, softly lit suites encircling the outdoor spa pool; and a great old-school barbershop where a groom can enjoy an old-fashioned shave. You might also try the fab spa at Elbow Beach Resort, where six private treatment suites (two of which are designed for couples) offer a behemoth granite soaking tub where you can rinse off after your pink-sand scrub or marine-mud wrap. Then, once fully scrubbed and renewed and relaxed, you can head over to the historic Royal Navy Dockyard to rent a Jet Ski at Snorkel Park Beach for a fun twist on a guided island tour.
BY NIGHT: Aside from moonlit walks on the beach, late-night dips in the hotel pool and candlelit dinners around the island (see What to Eat), you might also want to take part in a long-standing Bermudan tradition with a trip to the lively Hog Penny Restaurant & Pub, a casual English-style pub with casual English-pub fare, nightly live entertainment, and a famous version of the national cocktail, a fruity (but potent) concoction called the Rum Swizzle.
WHAT TO EAT: Aside from your meal at Hog Penny, you should reserve a table alfresco and poolside at the lovely Beau Rivage, a French bistro with the acclaimed chef Jean Claude-Garzia in the kitchen (though if you’re foodies, you’ll get a special thrill from the chef’s table, where you can watch the master make you crème brûlée for two). Local restaurateur Danny Lim’s Blu is another notable stop, overlooking the picturesque Belmont Hills golf course. The steakhouse (with a great brunch on Sunday morning) is best known for its wine list—and even does takeout, should you be in the mood for a romantic night in.
WHERE TO STAY: Elegant but easygoing, the 98-room Elbow Beach, a recently revamped Mandarin Oriental property, has a wonderful organic feeling, with beach suites surrounding the charming yellow main building. The beachfront lanai suites are the place for a couple in love, hidden in the property’s gardens but still offering a direct view of the ocean, with giant glass doors that open onto a private beachfront patio (perfect for mimosas in your bathrobes). It sits on 50 acres of beachside property reserved exclusively for guests and is situated toward the middle of the island, so it’s actually near pretty much everything you’d want to do. There’s also moped rental, a nearby shipwreck for diving, the aforementioned gloriously private spa, and a concierge who can get tee times or reservations anywhere you want. Another tempting option is Rosewood Tucker’s Point, a two-year-old, stunning, sprawling, 88-room manse with super-luxe amenities (don’t you wish every hotel had deep, stand-alone bathtubs overlooking the ocean?), plus regal architecture and manicured grounds so perfect, it’s like a Hollywood set of a tropical resort.
WHAT TO PACK: All your beach gear, of course—don’t forget the wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen—plus a few summery sundresses for nights out and golf-appropriate shoes and outfits (most of the courses are conservative). You might also consider a waterproof camera to capture some of the amazing snorkeling scenes. And a passport.
BEST TIMES TO GO: March through Nov-ember is high season (temperatures range between 60 and 70), but locals say the best weather starts in May.
NEWLYWED NEWS: Honeymooners at Elbow Beach get champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival, breakfast for two daily, and a beach dinner. Rosewood offers deals, too: The Escape to Romance package includes an 80-minute couples massage, a drawn bubble bath, breakfast in bed and a candlelit dinner for two.
GETTING THERE: Fly direct from PHL, and it’s about two hours to Hamilton, Bermuda. And be sure to look up Beldwin’s Taxi Service before you go: Beldwin Smith is a lifelong Bermudan who will get you from the airport to the resort (and anywhere else you might want to go) while regaling you with fascinating stories about the island’s history and its people.