Grotto Bay Beach Resort – Welcome to Bermuda’s East End
Alison and I have spent the first four days in Bermuda on the western end of the island at the wonderful Fairmont Southampton. We’ve enjoyed golf at the Fairmont’s Turtle Hill Golf Course and the absolutely gorgeous Port Royal Golf Course. We’ve toured the Royal Naval Dockyard and capital city of Hamilton and walked the world famous Horseshoe Bay beach. Sadly, we’re only on Bermuda for a week so it’s time to move on. This time to the eastern side of Bermuda where we’ll stay at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort and use it as a base for exploring St. George’s and other attractions. Please join us.
The wind started howling at about 2:00 in the morning and the rain wasn’t far behind. A massive weather system that stretches all the way to the Canadian coast is passing through. I expected to lose a day or two to bad weather and it looks like this will be the day. Our plans to play Riddell’s Bay Golf Course are shot and so I spend the first few hours of the morning getting caught up on these posts and taking some small comfort in the fact that the weather back home is even worse than here. In Nova Scotia it has been raining for 18 straight hours.
There’s a break in the rain around eleven and we take the opportunity to check out and head to our next destination, Grotto Bay Beach Resort. It is located at the eastern end of the island close to the airport, the historic town of St. George and Tucker’s Point and Mid-Ocean golf courses. Even better, I got an amazing rate of just over $150.00 Cdn. a night by prepaying through Hotels.com. I’ve started using this website for a lot of bookings because their prices are very competitive and you get every 11th night free.
Even though we are there before noon our room is ready and as requested we are given a room on the top floor of one of the units closest to the water. The complex is made up of one large central building which houses the restaurants and bars and eleven brightly coloured ‘cottages’ that each has 18 rooms. Ours is 320 in the Pembroke cottage. It is a very nice room although much smaller than the one at the Fairmont, but it has a great view of Bailey’s Bay. You can also see the airport across the bay. We are here for three days and plan to use it exploring the St. George area which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our immediate concern is lunch and Grotto Bay Beach Resort has a very reasonably priced luncheon buffet which I can see attracts locals as well as tourists. In fact there seem to be more people here on business than vacation. Some are clearly construction workers here to continue the cleanup from the two hurricanes that came through in October. We have noticed a certain amount of debris, mostly downed Australian pines, but nothing too dramatic.
After lunch I saunter down to the dock to check things out and see three of the biggest and brightest coloured parrotfish I’ve ever seen just munching away on coral not five feet from where I stand. These are Bermuda’s famous rainbow parrotfish, rare elsewhere, but apparently reasonably common in Bermuda. I rush back to the room to get the camera, but on returning they are nowhere to be seen. The best I can do is substitute this fridge magnet to give you an idea of how pretty these fish are.
Later in the afternoon we take the bus into St. George which is the oldest continually inhabited English colony in the New World, dating back to 1612. It looks like a great place to walk around with numerous historic houses, churches and museums as well as a whole series of forts going all the way back to the founding of the town, but the weather is just not going to cooperate so we cut our visit short planning to return the next day.
The one thing the weather can’t stop me from doing is checking out the grottoes that give this resort its name and are the main reason I chose the place, although the price didn’t hurt either. At first I get a little perturbed because it looks like the grottoes, which are just behind the beach are closed for repairs from the hurricanes. Indeed Prospero’s Cave which apparently doubled as a disco is closed, but Cathedral Cave, the one I really want to see, is open. The entrance is a narrow slit that quickly widens into a large cave with an absolutely beautiful crystal clear pond.
There is a stairway down to a platform that you can use to get into the water if you want, and apparently lots of people do. However, I don’t have my swimming trunks and will admire the cave from dry land. From this photo you can see how the shadows play on the water, but it can’t show the utter silence of this place other than constant drip, drip, drip that contributes to the creation of the stalactites and stalagmites that line the floors and ceilings.
Prospero’s and Cathedral Caves were apparently discovered by the first English person to set foot on Bermuda, Sir George Somers whose vessel the Sea Venture was shipwrecked nor far from here in 1609. The ship was on its way to Jamestown, Virginia with over five hundred prospective settlers. Undismayed the survivors set about to make the best of a bad situation and eventually did reach Jamestown in two ships constructed from scratch on Bermuda – talk about human ingenuity! However, the secret about Bermuda’s great climate and favourable conditions for settlement (there were no indigenous peoples already there) was out and soon after settlers arrived from England and as they say, “The rest is history”.
The fact that one of the caves is named after a character in Shakespeare’s last completed play The Tempest is not a coincidence. The story of the Sea Venture’s being wrecked in a tempest that deposited the survivors on a remote island with a fantastic landscape of caves and grottoes, inhabited only by devils and spirits (at least in someone’s imagination) is generally credited with inspiring the great bard to write his last play.
That evening we stay onsite and have dinner at the resort restaurant which frankly is nowhere near the standards at the Fairmont, but the prices are better. Hopefully this will be the only day lost to bad weather.
Tomorrow we will return to St. George to discover why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Please join us.