When John Lennon docked his yacht in Bermuda in June of 1980, the former Beatle hadn’t written a song in almost five years. A few days on “the Rock” changed all that. After sailing 700 miles from Rhode Island, Lennon came to the island in search of rest and relaxation away from his New York City home. Soon, Lennon’s muse had returned. During his two-month Bermuda stay, he wrote no less than 22 songs, including hits that would make up his final masterpiece, Double Fantasy. In fact, the album's title stems from time Lennon spent wandering the 36-acre Bermuda Botanical Gardens, where he discovered the full-petaled freesia of the same name. Today at the Gardens, there’s a statue by local artist Graham Foster commemorating Lennon’s time here. Find it in front of the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.
2 Heaven on Earth for Mark Twain
“You can go to heaven if you want to – I’d rather stay in Bermuda.” Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens) wrote these words toward the end of his life, believing that the island had revived his health and his creativity. He visited many times between 1867 and his death in 1910, finding Bermuda an escape from the treachery of modern life. He considered it a place whose unspoiled natural beauty was matched by the welcoming nature of its residents. In 1908, Twain was one of the first visitors to experience the wonder of the Crystal Caves, with its stalactites and stalagmites and pristine underground lake. Twain loved to smoke cigars on the veranda at what is now the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. The hotel even erected a statue of the author to commemorate his time as a guest.
3 Winslow Homer Meets His Match
Can you imagine taking selfies in Bermuda with no colour? Before the advent of colour photography, painters had to show the world the glorious hues of Bermuda. Among the best of these artists was painter Winslow Homer, who visited Bermuda regularly starting in the 1880s. Here, he created some of his most beloved works – vibrant, stunning and sunlit, just like the island itself. “For beauty of colour, they have never been surpassed and I can hardly believe they ever will be,” one critic wrote of the artist’s Bermuda masterpieces. The Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art is home to several of Homer’s island pieces. During your trip, why not compare the real location with the artist’s rendering? Take in the view of Granaway Deep from Harbour Road with Marshall’s and Darrell’s Islands in the background. It's the scene that inspired “Inland Waterway,” considered one of Homer’s masterpieces.
4 How Georgia Got Her Groove Back
She was one of America’s most renowned artists, but in the early 1930s, Georgia O’Keeffe was in the throes of a deep depression, unable to paint. She took a therapeutic trip to Bermuda where she found plenty of colour, something she always claimed made life worth living. After staying in a bungalow at Cambridge Beaches, sunning herself on the pink sand and gazing at the turquoise sea, O'Keeffe found her creative juices flowing once again. O’Keeffe didn’t do any painting in Bermuda, but she did make a gorgeous pencil-and-ink sketch called “The Banyan Tree Trunk,” which you can see at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.
5 There’s Something About Bermuda
Singer/songwriter Jonathan Richman (you might remember him from There’s Something About Mary) isn’t the household name that John Lennon is. But for his fanatically devoted followers, he’s one of the rock era’s best songsmiths. In the mid-1970s, he was ready to hang it all up. As he tells it in his delightful “Monologue About Bermuda,” Richman and his band the Modern Lovers were playing their brand of heavily amplified proto-punk, and he just wasn’t feeling it. But one night he was captivated by the breezy melodies and buoyant rhythms of a local calypso group. “Well there was something in the air that kept soothing me and calming me down,” he sang. “Making me feel better all around.” The sounds (and peace of mind) Richman found in Bermuda would set him on a mellower course for the rest of his career.