Royal Naval Dockyard Bermuda
Royal Naval Dockyard, also known only as Dockyard, is one of the busiest places in Bermuda during the cruise season. This is where most large cruise ships dock and offload thousands of tourists. There are two cruise ship berths or piers here - The Kings Wharf (the original one) and the Heritage Wharf (which was built later). Both the berths are adjacent to each other so that two ships can dock next to each other on a line.
If you are visiting the dockyard for the first time and like to explore the port area, then this page should be your starting point. I'll take you through a self guided tour of the dockyard complex so that you know where to find what. Over the years the dockyard has developed into a large commercial complex with many tourist attractions, activities, as well as public facilities such as transports, restaurants & bars, tourist information centers, internet & phone access etc.
Once you get off the cruise ship, the first thing that you may need to access is a Visitors Information Center
(VIC), and the good thing is that there is a VIC located right next to both the berths. VIC is useful for gathering information about the island & the dockyard itself, many tours & activities operating at the dockyard and across the island etc. You can collect a free Handy Reference Map of the island and also bus schedules. You can also buy bus & ferry passes
at the VICs (but not book of tickets which are available in post offices and main bus & ferry terminals in Hamilton).
We will refer to the following map to understand the basic layout of Royal Naval Dockyard.
As you walk out of the berths and along the common walkway (this section is called the 'North Arm'), you will soon reach the point where North Arm ends and the road forks. This is only about 100 meters from the berths. On your right you will see a taxi stand where several taxis would be parked and waiting to take you out for a taxi tour
or drop you wherever you like to go.
On your left on the road itself you will see large signs 'Train Stop'. This is where the Train Trolley waits and offers free rides. You can hop on and hop off. It completes a circuit through the dockyard and returns, passing through important places.
This free train trolley is available when there is cruise ship on port.
On the right where North Arm ends and at the corner is the floating pirate ship bar known as Calico Jack's. And right ahead at this junction is the well known restaurant Bonefish Bar & Grill
which has an open patio with tables & umbrellas, a bar area right next to the road and inside dining. It serves nice seafood as well as Mediterranean fares.
So from the end of North Arm where the road bifurcates, let's take a right turn. This road is 'Maritime Lane'. You can see in the map above that it's a circular route which circles around Victualling Yard, passes through several landmarks and returns.
The entire circular route is about 500 meters (i.e. about 550 yards). As you take right (i.e. go anti-clock wise), you will see big signs on the road showing one-way signs on the opposite direction. This means that all vehicles on this circular route move only in clock-wise direction.
In fact the public buses (#7 and #8) that come to the dockyard from Hamilton City, make a full circle along this route so that cruise ship passengers can get on and get off near the North Arm. The buses then go out of the dockyard via Camber Road and then finally via Pender Road.
So start walking along Maritime Lane. Shortly you will see scooter parking place on your right. If you rent a scooter, this is where you can park it. Of course you need to come around from the opposite side. Soon you will see the wall of a large fortress on your right. This is the Keep Fortress where the National Museum of Bermuda
It has large collections of exhibits and artifacts reflecting the history of Bermuda and its culture & heritage. The Museum complex also houses several other attractions like the Dolphin Center
- an amazing dolphin training and display center, and the first house in the world made of cast iron - The Commissioner's House
which is also now part of the museum.
On your left will be the Craft Market
. If you plan to buy some Bermuda's original handcrafted items that serve as excellent decorative pieces or souvenirs, you can find plenty of them here. Right after the craft market and on your left is the entry to Cooperage building which houses the famous Frog & Onion Pub
They also have a brewery here where they make local beers. Outside there is a Telephone booth (old British style one, red in color). There is also an ATM inside the Cooperage building. Look right and you will see entry to the National Museum.
Right after the entry to Cooperage on left is Bermuda Arts Center
. Several local artists have their studios inside and will be happy to take time off and chat with you. There are lots of paintings, artwork, woodcraft etc.
Few steps ahead at the corner you will see the arched entry to Snorkel Park
. This is a small complex which has a beach (good for snorkeling), a restaurant & bar, beach rentals etc. There is an entry fee. Right next to it is the 18-hole mini golf course called Fun Golf
which too has a bar of its own. Next to the entrance of Snorkel Park and at the corner is a kids playground. There is toilet facility next to it.
Turn around the corner towards left and walk ahead. There are two huge stone walls on both sides of the road. In about 150 meters you will reach a junction of three roads. Just before the junction and on your right is a two storey building - this is where the famous Dockyard Glassworks
is located. Here you can see demonstration of glass blowing technique and buy exquisite glass made items.... excellent as souvenirs.
Once you reach the junction, if you turn left (this section of the road is known as 'Dockyard Terrace'), you will go back to where you started, i.e. where the North Arm leads to cruise piers. And from the junction the road ahead is Camber Road which leads to Clocktower Mall and onward to Pender road taking you out of Dockyard.
There are several things of interest at the junction. But before that let us re-start the journey from the North Arm bifurcation point (where Bonefish Bar & Grill is located), but this time let's take the Dockyard Terrace road on the left and reach up to the junction of three roads. Actually the junction of three roads from the North Arm in this direction (i.e. along Dockyard Terrace road) is at a short distance and only about 110 meters away.
Start walking and you will see the Ferry Dock on your left. This is from where you can board a ferry to Hamilton City (takes 20 minutes) or to St. George (takes 35 minutes). Most of these ferries are air-conditioned fast catamarans. Next to the ferry dock is a booth of 'Island Tour Center' offering all kinds of land and boat tours, watersports etc.
There is a large paved open space with lovely water view on your left. You can see ferries, several boats waiting to pick up tourists for watersports, and even the cruise ships on piers. There are benches and gazebos where you can sit & relax. On your right you can see the fenced open patio of Bonefish Bar & Grill.
Walk along and shortly you will reach another Visitors Information Center on the left. Look to your right and across the road, you will see a building with a prominent display 'Island Outfitters'. This is a relatively new store and keeps all sorts of accessories, souvenirs etc including flip flops, sun glasses, sun hats, T-shirts, local jams, salt and lot more. You will also find several old fashioned red telephone booths at the grounds here.
Move forward. Few steps ahead you will see a glass covered structure 'Alex & Pete's Bermuda Artisan Ice Cream'. You can get nice ice creams here of various flavors. You can also use their wi-fi free inside as you enjoy your yogurt. Note that the whole of Dockyard is wifi enabled by the operator Tele Bermuda International (TBI). This is of course chargeable.
Opposite to BermyBerry a lane goes into the Victualling Yard. Few yards into the lane you will see the arched entrance to the cafe 'Dockyard Pastry Shop' with tables and umbrellas spread out on an open patio.
The 'Victualling Yard' is largely unused and comprises of two buildings and an open square surrounded by high walls. It has a lot of historical significance. It was built in early 1800s and was used until 1950s by the British navy to store essential supplies. One of the buildings is being used as a warehouse now.
Move forward along Dockyard Terrace Road and soon you will reach the junction of three roads. At one corner on the left you will see the yellow open-roof bus of Segway Tours
parked. You can hire a self balancing machine on two-wheels from Segway and move around in the dockyard if you don't feel like walking.
Opposite to Segway and at the junction is 'Oleander Cycles', an outfitter that rents scooters and bicycles.
Let's now turn left from the junction into Camber Road. Right after Oleander Cycles you will see Jon Faulkner Gallery
. Here you can get excellent collections of handmade pottery and ceramic items of various types. Next to this is Dockyard Pharmacy where you can get medicines (against prescriptions), health & beauty products, sun-care products, cosmetics, souvenirs & gift items, books, newspapers & magazines, beverages and even ice creams.
Few steps ahead and on the right is 'Makin Waves', a 2,000 sq. ft. store selling swimwear and watersport gears. You will also get many accessories here including sunglasses. This is from where you can buy snorkel gears, flip slops, swimming trunks, skateboards etc. It's open daily. Adjacent to this store on Smithery Lane you can see a boatyard 'West End Yachts' which is a full service yacht repairing and building facility.
Don't enter Smithery Lane and move forward along Camber Road and you will soon reach Clocktower Mall
. This is the main shopping mall in Dockyard full of boutique shops of different types and has a few restaurants. The mall building is marked by two 100-ft towers on two sides, one having a Clock and the other showing time of high tide.
Camber Road here becomes Clcoktower Parade and then Pender Road. You will reach the exit/entry gate of the dockyard soon.
Update March 22, 2016: A new Crown & Anchor shop has come up at the dockyard and located next to Bonefish Bar & Grill Restaurant. It's an upscale clothing store themed on Bermuda's marine history. It has been housed in a building which once used to be the residence of a ship's captain.
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