Southampton Parish is a thin stretch of land at the western end of Bermuda. The northern side is predominantly residential while the south is a popular tourist area with some great attractions and hotels.
The parish covers an area of just over 2¼ square miles and has a population of around 6,500. It takes its name from Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton. He was one of the investors in the company that colonised the island at the start of the 17th century.
Places to Stay
The Fairmont Southampton is Bermuda’s biggest hotel and offers more facilities than any other property. It boasts a good selection of restaurants, a spa, private beach, dive shop, and tennis courts.
Attractions & Activities
If you like beaches, then you’ll love Southampton. Horseshoe Bay is one of Bermuda’s most attractive beaches and certainly the most popular. Lifeguards are stationed here in the summer and, in addition to the main beach, there’s a sheltered cove that’s great for small children. Facilities include beach rentals (chairs, umbrellas etc.), a snack bar, decent changing rooms, and plenty of parking. If it’s too busy for your liking you can easily walk to Chaplin Bay on the border with Warwick Parish.
Church Bay is another option. The reef is fairly close to the shore and harbours a good variety of marine life, making it a great place to go snorkelling. A concession rents snorkel gear and sells snacks.
Visit West Whale Bay at almost any time and you’ll find it pretty much deserted. One reason is that it pretty much disappears at high tide (you can check the times in the weather section of the Royal Gazette). Another is that it’s a fair distance from the main bus route on Middle Road. We love it though and the view from the adjacent park is breathtakingly beautiful.
Gibbs Hill Lighthouse was erected by the British in the mid-19th century and is the parish’s most prominent landmark. It still functioning but is now also a major tourist attraction. You can climb to the top for next to nothing and enjoy one of the most panoramic views of Bermuda.
The Port Royal Golf Course is one of the best public courses in the world. It was designed by Robert Trent Jones and recently underwent a multimillion dollar refurbishment to host the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
Another course in the parish is Turtle Hill, an 18-hole par-3 course in the grounds of the Fairmont Southampton. It’s a short but challenging course and boasts a scenic setting, steep elevations, and water hazards. To perfect your shot or play a fun round of miniature golf you can visit the Bermuda Golf Academy.
If you want to explore the island’s pristine reefs or shipwrecks you can go scuba diving with Dive Bermuda. The PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre operates from the private beach of the Fairmont Southampton and offers dive trips every day. They also offer scuba courses for divers of all abilities, snorkel trips, and beach rentals (kayaks, floats etc.).
Restaurants & Bars
Places to eat and drink in Southampton Parish include:
- Bacci – Italian restaurant in the clubhouse of the Turtle Hill Golf Club
- Coconuts – Open air restaurant at the The Reefs
- Dining Room – Restaurant at the base of the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse
- East Meets West – Asian/Indian restaurant at the Bermuda Golf Academy
- Henry VIII – Popular bar and restaurant with live entertainment throughout the summer
- Newport – British gastropub at the Fairmont Southampton
- Waterlot Inn – Waterside steakhouse at the Fairmont Southampton
The main grocery store in the area is the Heron Bay MarketPlace. Henry’s Pantry is a small store adjacent to the Henry VIII restaurant. It sells beer, snacks, sandwiches etc. and is convenient for visitors staying at the Fairmont Southampton or The Reefs. For locally grown fruit and vegetables you can visit Wadson’s Home Farm Market.
The PGA Grand Slam of Golf is one of the biggest events on the island’s sporting calendar. It’s held in October at the Port Royal Golf Course and features the winners of four major golf tournaments (Masters, US Open, British Open, and the PGA Championship).
Horseshoe Bay hosts several events throughout the year. The first is the Good Friday kite festival. Thousands descend on the beach to fly kites (many handmade), enjoy fishcakes, and listen to live music. Events later in the year include the ITF Beach Tennis International Tournament, and the Bermuda Sand Sculpture Competition.
Transport – Buses, Ferries
Middle Road runs the length of Southampton Parish. South Road runs from the east and merges with Middle Road at Barnes Corner.
The number 7 bus service is heavily used by tourists. It travels between Hamilton and Royal Naval Dockyard along the South Road, before joining Middle Road at Barnes Corner. On the way it passes Chaplin Bay, Horseshoe Bay, Fairmont Southampton, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse (10 minute uphill walk from the bus stop), Church Bay, Greene’s Guest House, and the Port Royal Golf Course.
Bus service number 8 also goes from Hamilton to Dockyard but takes Middle Road all the way through Southampton Parish.
Both services are frequent. Some services terminate at Barnes Corner, as indicated on the bus.
Rockaway is the only ferry stop in the parish. Ferries on the Green Route go to Hamilton on weekdays only. The service is really aimed at commuters. The stop isn’t near any major hotels or tourist attractions.
Guests staying at one of the Fairmont properties can use their private ferry service to travel between the Fairmont Southampton and the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
Services & Information
Public toilets can be found at Horseshoe Bay and Church Bay (portable).
The Southampton Post Office is situated on Church Road. It’s open on weekdays only.
Interactive map of Southampton Parish. Click on any icon for further information.