Experience the Bermuda that's underwater, its glorious pink sand beaches and fine shops.

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For many the odds-on favorite is the chance to walk on the ocean floor wearing a diver's helmet. You don't need to know how to do anything but walk and breathe in order to enjoy this unusual opportunity.

The helmet dive takes place offshore in less than 12 feet of water. Divers stay within a limited area under the boat. Bronson Hartley originated the helmet dives many decades ago, and his son leads underwater trips every day from his operation in Flatts Village in Hamilton Parish.

Bermuda’s pink sand beaches are world famous, but some of the best are privately owned and off limits except to hotel guests and cruise ship passengers with special arrangements.

Unless you can approach the beaches from the water, that is. The beaches are considered public up to the high water mark.

The pink sands owe their striking color to small, dark red skeletal animals that grow on the coral reefs, among the world’s northernmost reefs.

Beaches are used for almost everything--walking, swimming, jogging, horseback riding, snorkeling and just plain sunning. Many are bordered by great rock formations that turn them into private coves. Horseshoe Bay in Southampton is considered the most beautiful beach because of the brilliant colors of the water and sand.

Other standouts are West Whale Bay, Church Bay, Jobson's Cove and Warwick Long Bay, to name a few. You could go to a different spot each morning and still never see all the beaches even during a 2-week stay.

The best shopping selection is in the capital city of Hamilton on Front Street. Look for good buys in fine china, pottery, crystal, linen and imported clothing. However, the best bargains are woolen items from the British Isles. They're at least 30% less than in the U.S.

After the sun goes down and the shops close, restaurant hopping becomes the favorite local pastime. The choices are so varied that on arriving you should buy the latest edition of Dining Out in Bermuda, which lists the menus (and prices) of most of the top restaurants. You can order one ahead of time: www.dininginbermuda.com.

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