by Lydia Schrandt for USA TODAY 10Best

Virtual tour: Escape to the island of Bermuda

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Colonial architecture and rich heritage join forces with pink sand beaches and some of the best diving on the planet to make Bermuda an appealing destination for all sorts of travelers.

Photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

For one of the best views on the island of Bermuda, climb the 185 spiral steps to the top of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. The 1846 lighthouse ranks among the oldest cast iron lighthouses in the world.

Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital city, is a colorful, walkable and welcoming place to learn more about the island’s history and heritage.

Bermuda is well-known for its pastel-hued colonial architecture. Head to St. George’s, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the island’s East End to see some of the best examples.

Photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

The Bermuda coastline boasts numerous stretches of pink sand punctuated by rock formations and hidden coves. A reef close to the shore of Church Bay makes it a favorite for swimming and snorkeling.

The distinctive pale pink sand of Bermuda’s beaches gets its color from red foraminifera, a single-celled organism that lives in a calcium carbonate seashell.

Bermuda welcomes some special visitors each year during March and April. During this season, migrating humpback whales pass through these waters on their way to their summer feeding waters.

Cricket is a big deal on Bermuda – it’s the national sport after all.

Bermuda served as a military outpost for Great Britain, of particular strategic importance during the American Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Several naval and military strongholds remain.

Photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

The moongate has become a national symbol of Bermuda. According to local legend, newlyweds who step through a moongate hand in hand will enjoy enduring happiness.

Photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

Some of Bermuda’s most spectacular natural attractions lie underground in cave systems thought to be millions of years old. Among the most impressive are the Crystal Caves.

Photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

During many festivities on the island (particularly Boxing Day), troupes of dancers in colorful costumes take to the streets. This tradition of Gombey dancing dates back to the early 1800s.

Photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

One of the best ways to explore Bermuda is by hiking or biking the 18-mile Railway Trail. This scenic path traces an abandoned rail bed from one end of the island to the other.

In St. George’s, you’ll find the oldest continuously used Anglican church outside the British Isles. Originally built in 1612, St. Peter's, Their Majesties Chappell still has its original altar.

Large rock formations jutting up from the water make Bermuda a popular spot for cliff jumping.

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