Insider's Guide to Bermuda: Tom Moore's Jungle
Pick up any Bermudian Travel Guide or even an international magazine with an article on Bermuda, and you’re sure to see a “Top Ten” list of things to do. Everything from The Unfinished Church to the pink sandy beaches...but my favorite spot to take friends and family who visit is Tom Moore’s Jungle. Tom Moore’s Jungle, also called The Walsingham Nature Reserve, is 12 acres of preserved, privately owned land, which is free to the public to access. A private trust maintains the lush preserve named for Thomas Moore, an Irish Poet who, in 1844, wrote some of his famous works here supposedly while resting under a calabash tree, Bermuda’s most famous tree. The most convenient entrance to the jungle is located off Harrington Sound Road from Walsingham Lane; also the entrance to the famous Tom Moore’s Tavern, “Bermuda’s oldest eating house” and a 5 star restaurant. Once parked, walk to the left of the entrance of the restaurant to a dirt path - this is the entrance to Tom Moore’s Jungle.
The jungle, often described as a “time traveling experience”, transports you back to the 1500’s when Bermuda was an uninhabitable, uncharted piece of land. The jungle’s walking “trails” are rugged (wear good walking shoes), but manageable. This is not for the traveler who likes organized and structured activities. This is for the adventurer, who likes the act of discovering and exploring the place they are visiting.
Once inside the jungle, you will pass mangroves and caverns of fresh seawater. The jungle also has a wide range of flora and fauna. If bird watching is part of your plan, you will enjoy herons, finches, cardinals, and doves. But my favorite part of Tom Moore’s Jungle are the actual caves themselves, fed via subterranean tunnels from Castle Harbor. If you are not with an experienced local, finding the caves might take up a good part of the day. The trail leading to the caves is unmarked and that’s how the locals prefer it. This hidden spot is much better appreciated after hiking in the humid Bermuda sun for a few hours. Along the trail you will find a multitude of small caves of sea water, which, due to their size, are unable to be swam in, but if you find the right cave you will immediately notice you are in the right spot. Concrete steps built into the left side of the cave opening, conveniently assist you in entering the mouth of the cave.
Wait for your eyes to adjust to the light - once they do, you’ll notice how bright the interior of the cave actually is. If it’s an overcast day or if you prefer, bringing along a few flashlights can be helpful. In this large cave are hundreds of stalagmites and stalactites lodged in a pool of beautiful blue, still water. The water, fresh salt water from the ocean, is a few degrees cooler than the local ocean water temperature on any given day. It is estimated that you can see between 40-60 feet straight down into the water. If you listen carefully, you can hear the drip, drip, drip of the water from the ceiling of the cave slowly dripping into the still body of water. It can be a challenge actually getting into the water itself due to the ragged slope of the walls. Slowly climbing and picking your way thru is better advised than jumping in because of the scattering of stalagmites. Once in the water, explore the layers of fresh water on top of salt water that ripple giving off beautiful bluish colors. It’s both a thrilling and calming experience to swim throughout the depths of its caverns and holes, listening as the water rushes through.
The best part of this experience is the uncharted feeling of adventure. You might pass a fellow explorer on your way to discover the cave but there is no tour guide, no entrance fee, no gift shop selling postcards and key chains, not even a posted sign. Just Mother Nature and you.
Lindsey Lehman is the Bermuda Editor for Wandering Educators
All photos courtesy and copyright Lindsey Lehman