Flatts Village is the site of the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo ($10); it has one of the most diverse collections of creatures I've seen in one place.

Nearby is Rustico , a fine Italian restaurant open for lunch and dinner, and three miles of the scenic Railway Trail , beginning on the grounds of the Bermuda Railway Museum (free admission).

No Bermuda trip would be complete without taking in the outdoors, even in winter.

To appreciate the sand and salty air, visit the absolutely stunning Horseshoe Bay and walk the miles of secluded coves and bays to be discovered nearby on the South Shore Park Trail.

Fortified Sights

For four centuries, Bermuda -- England's sole remaining colony -- played a central military role in defending the interests of British merchants and the Royal Navy, especially against Americans, Spaniards and pirates.

Today, many of the island's parks are former forts.

At the island's far east end, near St. George, is Fort St. Catherine , which dates to 1614.

Aside from the eye-popping vistas atop the ramparts, the fort has a maze of tunnels, a drawbridge, five 18-ton muzzleloader guns and a quirky museum ($5). Nearby is the lively and affordable pub Blackbeard's Hideout , which is located on a bluff above Achilles Bay, a great place to enjoy a seafood dinner and sunset.

At Bermuda's far northwestern tip is the gigantic Royal Naval Dockyard, the costliest military installation ever built for imperial Britain, begun shortly after the American Revolution.

Today, Dockyard is a major tourist draw, home to the massive Bermuda Maritime Museum ($10). Two other buildings, the Cooperage and the Clocktower, have been converted to shopping centers. Because of Dockyard's remote location, the fastest route is via ferry.

Luxe Lodgings

Lodging in Bermuda falls into four categories: resorts large and small, boutique hotels, cottage colonies and bed and breakfast inns (check out the Department of Tourism for booking rooms).

Wallowing at the Willow Stream Spa

Towering, quite literally, above others is The Fairmont Southampton resort (winter rates from $249 per night), which has several restaurants, a golf course and the fabulous Willow Stream Spa , where my wife and I enjoyed a couple's massage followed by a full day of lollygagging in hot tubs.

A smaller resort is the Grotto Bay Beach Hotel ($180 per night), which has spacious grounds and is at a convenient location in Bailey's Bay for hitching the frequent buses between St. George and Hamilton.

Bermuda's top cottage colony is still the old Cambridge Beaches , which recently renovated its outdoor pools ($350-$1,175 per night). Located on its own peninsula, the colony has five private beaches, a fine spa and special ferry service to Hamilton -- welcome as it's on at Bermuda's far western edge.

Another top colony, on the south shore in Devonshire, is Ariel Sands (starting at $300 per night). Owned by Diana Dill (Michael Douglas' mother), the colony's restaurant Aqua is one of island's finest eateries; the lobby decor utilizes an odd collection of photos of the actor and his kin.

Travel Tips

Seven U.S. airlines operate daily flights to Bermuda, mostly from East Coast cities. The cruise line companies that haul hordes of tourists from the U.S. don't operate in the winter months (what a relief).

In a recent policy change, U.S. visitors are required to possess passports for entry. U.S. currency, both bills and coins, is accepted and is equal in value to the local currency, the Bermuda dollar.

Bermuda has a strong cultural identity and conservative norms. Modest attire is required; many restaurants expect men to wear jackets and ties at dinner, even in the blistering heat of summer.

Photo: BermudaTourism.com

Transportation is a major concern for tourists, who cannot rent cars.

The options are motor scooters, taxis or buses and ferries. Regardless of the means, expect the pace to be slow. But hey -- you're on vacation.

Renting scooters is one of the more popular options, but beware of the left-hand-side driving and the curvy, narrow roads and rotaries.

Taxis are plentiful but costly; fortunately, the public bus and ferry system is convenient and easy to use.

Fares vary based on distances traveled. Multiday passes are sold (cash only) at bus depots and many hotels. Enjoy your trip!

Enjoy the Good Life? Email us with what you'd like to see in future articles.
Martin Stolz is a freelance writer living in Salt Lake City. He previously worked as a newspaper reporter in New York and California.

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