GETTING THERE: USA 3000 offers nonstop service between BWI and Bermuda on Tuesdays and Fridays, with fares starting at $79 each way. With taxes, the round-trip tariff comes to $235.80. US Airways comes closest to matching the fare, with round-trip flights from BWI starting at about $267, with restrictions.
GETTING AROUND: Mopeds rent for $30 or more per day and can inflict major damage on your budget, though the per diem goes down the longer you rent. Cabs are convenient but expensive; airport transfers to my apartment were $26 each way, with tip (ask around curbside at the airport to see if anyone's going in your direction to split the fare).
A better option for cheapskates are the island's buses, which run from about 7 a.m. to mid- or late evening. Fares -- $2.50 to $4.50 depending on the distance traveled -- are cheaper if you use tokens instead of exact change; ask your innkeeper if she can sell you some tokens. Transportation passes, good for buses and ferries, are an excellent value if you plan to crisscross the island; rates range from $12 for a one-day pass to $45 for a week. Details: www.bermudabuses.com.
WHERE TO STAY: Bermuda offers a surprising variety of places to bunk, from chichi resorts and bed-and-breakfasts to self-catering apartments. I stayed at Clairfont Apartments (6 Warwickshire Rd., Warwick), an eight-unit complex on the South Shore about five minutes from the beach. My spacious studio with a kitchen was $100 a night, but for only $20 more I could have upgraded to a nicer, larger one-bedroom unit. Rates are likely to go up next year, as new appliances and other upgrades are being added. Details: 441-238-3577, www.clairfontapartments.com. For other options, check with Bermuda tourism (see below).
A New Jersey couple I met in Hamilton gave high marks to Bermuda Accommodations (416-232-2243, www.bermudarentals.com), which represents 40 villas, cottages and apartments island-wide, all privately owned and many on the water. Rates start at $50 a night for a single.
WHERE TO EAT: It's not hard to find (relatively) inexpensive grub -- at least at lunchtime. The Lighthouse Tea Room (base of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse) offers up spectacular views, sandwiches and frilly fruit drinks; lunch for two with tip is about $28. In Hamilton, unassuming Bistro 12 (12 Walker Arcade, between Reid and Front streets) serves diner food and all-day breakfast; lunch for two with tip is about $26. Resist the martini menu and the price will be about the same at the nearby Pickled Onion (53 Front St.), with lots of pub fare. Order the fish and chips and splurge on a $13.50 pitcher of rum swizzles at the Swizzle Inn (3 Blue Hole Hill, Baileys Bay); lunch for two runs about $40, with tip and alcohol.
Smallish grocery stores are everywhere, though prices are steep. Some offer storewide discounts on particular days, so pay attention to signs. Pack some provisions from home, particularly if your plane is arriving after stores and restaurants close (10 p.m. or so).
WHAT TO DO: Bermuda is full of cheap activities, none more invigorating than a hike on the Bermuda Railway Trail. Most maps show the trail (www.bermudarailway.net), which snakes through the island; it's well marked and has many shady areas, but be sure to carry water with you. Both St. George and Hamilton are good walking towns, with churches, parks, shopping and museums.
Climb the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse ($2.50) for the best view of the island and a refreshing breeze. The Bermuda Perfumery is around the corner from the Swizzle Inn; $1.50 gets you a self-guided tour of the jungle-like gardens. I'm not a big fan of the Royal Naval Dockyards, but the glass-blowing and pottery studios are interesting, and there's a free craft market.
You can snorkel in many locations, and some beaches, including Horseshoe Bay, have concessions that rent equipment. Bring your own from home and you can travel from one beach to another.
MONEY-SAVING TIPS: Save with the Heritage Passport ($25), which allows unlimited admission to eight attractions -- including the Maritime Museum and the Bermuda Aquarium -- for seven days. Buy at www.bermudaescapes.com (click "Activity Bookings") or at Visitors Service Bureaus throughout the island . . . Stop at airport kiosks and grab free maps and coupons . . . Traverse the island by ferry and bus to get a local's-eye view of Bermuda . . . Check out free shows like the Dunking of the Wench in St. George (schedule varies).
INFORMATION: Bermuda Department of Tourism, 800-BERMUDA, www.bermudatourism.com.
-- John Deiner