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If you're visiting for the first time, you may want to follow the traditional tourist route, basically the equivalent of visiting New York and seeing the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. The Aquarium, Devil's Hole, and cruise-boat outings are all popular for first-time visitors. Once you've done all the "must-sees," you'll want to walk around and make discoveries on your own. The best parishes for walking are Somerset, St. George, and the City of Hamilton.
But don't fill your days with too much structured sightseeing. You'll also want time to lounge on the beach, play in the water or hit the links, and to enjoy moments like sitting by the harbor in the late afternoon, enjoying the views as the yachts glide by. Absorbing Bermuda's beauty at your own pace and stopping to chat with the occasional islander will give you a real taste of Bermuda.
In the far western part of the archipelago, Sandys (pronounced sands) Parish encompasses the islands of Ireland, Boaz, and Somerset. This parish (named for Sir Edwin Sandys) centers in Somerset Village, on Somerset Island. Sandys Parish has areas of great natural beauty, including Somerset Long Bay, the biggest and best public beach in the West End (which the Bermuda Audubon Society is developing into a nature preserve), and Mangrove Bay, a protected beach in the heart of Somerset Village. Take a walk around the old village; it's filled with typically Bermudian houses and shops. On Somerset Road is the Scaur Lodge Property, whose waterfront hillside is open daily at no charge.
Not to be confused with the City of Hamilton, Hamilton Parish lies directly north of Harrington Sound, opening onto the Atlantic. Named for the second marquis of Hamilton, the parish surrounds Harrington Sound, a saltwater lake stretching some 10km (6 miles). On its eastern periphery, the parish opens onto Castle Harbour. The big attractions here are the Bermuda Aquarium and the Crystal Caves. Scuba diving and other watersports are also very popular in the area.
Golfers flock to Devonshire to play at the Ocean View Golf Course. Along North Shore Road, near the border of Pembroke Parish, is Devonshire Dock, long a seafarer's haven. In fact, during the War of 1812, British soldiers came to Devonshire Dock to be entertained by local women. Today, fishers still bring in grouper and rockfish, so you can shop for dinner if you're staying at a nearby cottage with a kitchen.
(c) Zagat © 2013, Google.