ISLAND WATCH

Bermuda Shocks

On a recent trip to Bermuda, CoGo should have listened when a cab driver warned about crime on the island.

Crime? In Bermuda? CoGo, ordinarily on high alert, thought it was all pink sand and rum swizzles. Then two backpacks were stolen from our rental apartment -- while we were in it, sleeping, having inadvertently left the door unlocked.

Yes, CoGo should have known better. But still . . . Bermuda?

According to a May 22 story in Bermuda's Royal Gazette newspaper, crime is actually down significantly across the island, though locals' perception that it's on the increase remains. Indeed, everyone we talked to after the theft concurred that crime was an issue, but an avoidable one if you're careful.

"Despite a historically low crime rate, people can sometimes perceive it to be higher than it actually is," said Terence Gallagher, spokesman for the Bermuda Department of Tourism. "Still, [tourists should] use common sense . . . . Comparatively, it's a very secure island."

The Caribbean Tourism Organization's Hugh Riley agrees. "I'm not aware of any issue that makes Bermuda stand out as far as crime is concerned. Bermuda has been a very quiet, peaceful, comfortable place, and I honestly don't have any information to suggest otherwise." (The CTO represents Bermuda, even though the island is in the Atlantic.)

For its part, the U.S. State Department's Consular Information Sheet on the island says it has a "moderate but growing crime rate," and that "petty thefts and assaults occur regularly and have increased in intensity."

Take it from CoGo: Lock your door.

For the State Department's info sheet on Bermuda: travel.state.gov/bermuda.

SHORE PATROL

Swimming Clean

Given that many states have dragged their feet on a new federal law requiring them to test the water with updated methods and report problems, what's a beachgoer to do?

First, you can see if a given beach got a "Blue Wave" from the Clean Beaches Council. The nonprofit group hands out the waves to beaches that have passed council standards for water quality, safety and erosion control. Last week the group announced that three beaches near Washington got a Blue Wave: Virginia Beach, and Bethany Beach and Lewes Beach in Delaware. See a full list at www.cleanbeaches.org.

If a beach isn't on the list, it might still be clean, safe and responsibly managed. Maybe officials just chose not to apply. Or maybe they didn't apply because they knew they couldn't pass.

You can also check for info at www.oceana.org (click on Know Before You Go.) Two nonprofit groups, Earth 911 and Oceana, have teamed with participating states to report on water quality. Delaware and North Carolina are among the states already reporting: Maryland and Virginia are expected to sign on soon.

TOUR WATCH

Vocation Vacations

Sick of your day job and dreaming of being a horse trainer, fishing outfitter, or maybe a winemaker? A new tour operator will arrange for you to work with a master in those and other fields.

At www.vocationvacations.com, you'll find that if you choose to test the life of a fishing outfitter, you'll help cook breakfast, fish, help cook lunch, filet the catch, clean the filet table, fish more, clean more fish, make dinner and clean the filet table again.

For the privilege, you'll lay out $3,349 plus tax for four days. CoGo is surprised that five days costs even more -- seems the price should keep dropping the more you clean the filet table.

There are cheaper options through the Portland, Ore.-based company. You might only need a day and $499 to find out that innkeeping isn't what you'd imagined.

Other options through the company: gardener, raceway manager, brew master, film events producer, cheesemaker, florist, cattle rancher and pastry chef.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

Eire Go

Fly round trip from BWI to Shannon, Ireland this summer for $605 including taxes. Details: What's the Deal?, Page P3.

Reporting: John Deiner, Cindy Loose.

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to: cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.