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Best of Bermuda: sun, sights, and a gourmet taste of the tropics.

A rooster crows, symbolically signaling the start of the day for the 65,000 people who call Bermuda home.

The early morning brings out men in their business attire, including suit jacket, crisply ironed shirt, tie, knee-high socks, dress shoes, and Bermuda shorts.

Claimed for the British crown in the 1600s, Bermuda is still heavily influenced by its English conquerors and examples of that are still evident in the culture. In fact, it's not unusual to find Wedgwood pottery and china, or the speaker of the house adorned in a white wig during parliamentary debates.

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the view anywhere on this 21-square-mile island is picture-ready. Every bright, blue, pink, and pastel-painted home is crowned with a limestone, white-capped roof treated with lime for functionality--rainwater is converted into the household's only water supply. Among the island's homeowners are onetime presidential hopeful Ross Perot; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and actor Michael Douglas, whose mother was born on the island.

No longer associated with the mystery of the Triangle, Bermuda has lost its 16th century reputation as the Isle of Devils, which it earned because of the many vessels caught in its treacherous reefs. Today, the 200 square miles of coral reef that surround the island provide canyons, overhangs, and tunnels that are a diver's dream.

Known as the shipwreck-diving capital of the Atlantic, the island is surrounded by more than 400 vessels dating back five centuries, including 16th century Spanish treasure ships, four-masted schooners, and modern-day freighters. You may earn a Bermuda Shipwreck Certificate from Blue Water Divers & Watersports (441-234-1034) or Scuba Look (441-293-7319), which documents your dive and provides a brief history of the explored wreck.

You can go deeper--about 12,000 feet below sea level--without all the diving accouterments in a simulated submersible at The Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (www.buei.org). While there, survive a 3-D attack in a shark cage and explore the artifacts collected from the wrecks.

When you reach shore, stick your toes into one of the many pink sand beaches, which get their colors from particles of shells mixed with coral and calcium carbonate. Navigation on land is by taxi, bus, or ferry--and motor scooters are available to rent. Because of environmental laws there are no rental cars, and each household is restricted to one automobile.

A visit in the fall will provide you with an opportunity to observe and sample the handiwork of world-renowned chefs like London-based restaurateur Ashbell McElveen, who comes to town for the annual five-day Culinary Arts Festival (www.bermudaculi naryarts.com). The festival held at the Fairmont Southampton, includes cooking demonstrations and wine tastings.

Savor the island's epicurean treats at the Swizzle Inn, where indulgers have been said to swagger out. It's the best place to nurse a Dark n' Stormy--a mixture of black rum and ginger beer. Aunt Mel's in Pembroke parish serves the island's best rockfish sandwich. Hog Penny Restaurant & Pub in Hamilton serves the best of both--a Dark n' Stormy Rockfish meal is always on the menu.
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Title Annotation:FIRST-CLASS TICKET
Author:Jackson, Lee Anna
Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:5BERM
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:506
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