As a relaxing and fulfilling holiday destination, one place that really does have it all is the beautiful British island territory of Bermuda. Accommodation overlooking some of the most spectacular beaches in the world; fascinating history; a delightfully laidback ambience and some of the best food and drink you'll find anywhere – Rum Swizzle anyone?
As an honorary local (surely, after 30 years of visiting) I use my insider knowledge to help clients find their perfect Bermuda accommodation, depending on what they're most interested in. One of the most common requests I get is regarding the island's unique natural attractions, and the best places to get ‘up close and personal’ with the plant and animal life. One of my all-time favourite places to escape and get back to nature is the 12-acre Walsingham Nature reserve – known colloquially as Tom Moore's Jungle.
A Tranquil Poetic Escape
So called after the much-loved poet, Thomas Moore, Tom Moore's Jungle was a favourite haunt of the writer, who penned some of his best-loved work beneath the spreading shade of a magnificent Calabash tree. Unfortunately, in 1987 the onslaught of Cyclone Emily uprooted and destroyed the tree, but several branches of it were retrieved and replanted. I live in hope that within my lifetime we'll once again be able to take a few quiet moments under the next generation of the favourite tree of one of our most inspirational poets.
The Mangrove Pond
Also known as the Blue Hole, this crystal clear pond is the main draw card of the reserve, supporting a huge diversity of plant and animal life. I always find it incredibly peaceful to sit at one of the picnic tables and take in the quiet beauty of the area, which is encircled by forests and rugged rock walls.
The park is dotted with a proliferation of caves and subterranean grottos, the most famous of which is the limestone Causeway Cave, just beyond the Blue Hole. Large numbers of fish, crabs and turtles make their home in the natural pools of these caves, and many are decorated by stalactite formations.
As well as the Causeway Cave, you can explore other caves with intriguing names like Fern Sink, Deep Blue, Subway and Vine. The Walsingham cave stretches deep into the underground for more than 200 metres, and although it was once open to the public, it is now sealed.
Jungle Trails and Bird Watching
The extensive network of trails that snakes its way through the reserve is definitely best explored with a guide, as it's quite easy to get confused. (If you're just planning on sticking to the paved main trail, by all means go it alone. ) The local guides are also extremely knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, so those with a deeper interest in the wildlife will be able to gain a valuable insight.
A huge range of the resident and migratory avifauna of Bermuda can be seen in all its resplendent glory from the dedicated observation tower in the reserve. Depending on the season, you may catch sight of herons, doves, cardinals, finches, starlings and countless other species – including the endemic Green Heron, Longtail and Eastern Bluebird. (Twitcher? Who, me?)
This beautiful nature reserve is open every day from sunrise until sunset (free entry), and if you choose any of the excellent Bermuda accommodation options in Hamilton and St George it's more or less on your doorstep – or at the most, a short bus ride away.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury Bermuda accommodation, as well as holidays to Croatia, Sicily and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.