Bucket List This: Bermuda Short

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Happy #ThrowbackThursday! Every month in 2015, Zoomer’s travel editor, Vivian Vassos, will look back at where in the world Zoomer has been over the past year. We started 2014 by following the sun: late January in Bermuda So, where in the world is Zoomer going next? Follow along on Twitter to find out: @zoomermag @vivianvassos

Discover why Mark Twain preferred the island to heaven

Long thought of as an island, Bermuda is actually an archipelago of more than 180 smaller land masses. The pink sand, championship golf courses and a GPS reading that’s smack dab in the middle of the North Atlantic west of North Carolina (or about 850 miles due south of Nova Scotia) make it a quick and easy getaway for Canadians.

But Bermuda is undergoing a reinvention of sorts, eschewing its stiff-upper-lip reputation for more sporty, sexy offerings. It goes beyond pink sand and golf: there’s a multi-generational, multi-cultural mix best experienced in the country’s business hub, Hamilton. You’ll find that its hottest restaurants, hotels and nightclubs hug the city’s natural harbourfront – hand-rolled sushi and a rum swizzle, anyone? There’s a laid-back yet sophisticated all-ages appeal to the place but still has its British-roots reserve, suitable for a slightly more refined sensibility. Take the Hog Penny Pub in Hamilton, for example, for a traditional mix of Indian curry and a pint of on-trend locally crafted beers. We said it was easy, didn’t we?

RELATED: Photo Tour: Journey to Bermuda

Here, more reasons why Bermuda should be on your radar.

It’s so hot, it’s cool
New York City überchef Marcus Samuelsson treated the island with a pop-up restaurant this summer, Samuelsson at HP, at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess. He previewed his brand of internationally infused cuisine – Samuelsson is Ethiopian-born but was raised in Sweden by his adoptive parents – that will be on the menu at his permanent dining spot there come spring 2015. The hotel itself is having a bit of a makeover – to the tune of $70 million, which includes a revamped, full-service marina. www.fairmont.com/hamilton-bermuda.

It inspires
Samuelsson’s not the only forward-thinker to land here. Mark Twain spent 187 days on the island, most in residence at the Hamilton Princess – he was often seen smoking cigars and signing autographs from the veranda – and later at Old Bay House in Pembroke Parish. Ian Fleming and John Lennon were also island habitués, and Michael Douglas has a home here (his mother was born in Bermuda).

It’s complicated but in a good way
It’s not quite Canadian, American or British but, like Canada, it’s part of the Commonwealth and is self-governing. Unlike Canada, it’s considered a British Overseas Territory. But who cares? It features the best of all three worlds and is English-speaking. A rich maritime history, a British heritage shared with Canada, along with a familiar blend of European and African cultures that combine seamlessly, particularly due to a common appreciation of etiquette. They play cricket here and drive on the left-hand side of the road, the American greenback is accepted currency, many of its citizens have been educated in Canada (the mayor of St. George, a UNESCO world heritage site, is a University of Toronto grad) and their Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art is supported by the Bermudiana Foundation of Canada.

It’s a natural wonder
The whole country is a sub-tropical garden, so rich it even encroaches the roadways, giving the sense you’ve just carved the route through this forest. Green thumbs will revel
in the green space of the Botanical Gardens, near the museum. Sub-terranean enthusiasts will marvel at the absolute beauty and stillness of the Crystal Caves. Delicate crystallized formations hang like chandeliers and mini-glaciers from the roof and create optical illusions in the reflective pools below. This underground cavern was discovered in 1905 by a pair of boys who lost their cricket ball down a hole. Twain is also on its guest list.

It’s the Dress Code Men
wear the famed Bermuda, those tailored shorts, particularly those sourced from the country’s go-to English Sports Shop in Hamilton – and we’re not talking plaid, cargo or camo-print here but worn with a sports coat and tie. And it looks good. Really good.

www.gotobermuda.com; via Toronto, it’s less than a three-hour non-stop flight on either Air Canada or WestJet.