A melting pot of cultural influences, each Caribbean island carries its own charm. Find out more here
As a small, laid-back island ever-popular with tourists, and the first port of call on many a Caribbean cruise, Bermuda doesn’t strike you as the centre of the most intriguing enigmas of aviation and maritime history.
But thanks to the various mysteries surrounding the famous Bermuda Triangle, that is exactly what it is.
Circled by a coral reef that attracts divers from all over the world, Bermuda truly deserves its title of ‘Jewel of the Atlantic'. Find out more here
Mystery of the Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle refers to the area of the North Atlantic Ocean that borders the Caribbean Sea. Although the triangular region has no official borders, it is thought to cover an area of over 500,000 square miles.
Its expanse is believed to stretch a thousand miles from Bermuda in the north to Miami, Florida in the east and then a further thousand miles south to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Disappearance of Flight 19
The myths of the Triangle have their origins in events that happened months after the Second World War in 1945, when a squadron of five US bomber planes disappeared.
No wreckage of the five planes – collectively known as Flight 19 – was ever found, and the bodies of the squadron’s 14 crewmen were never recovered.
Following the loss of Flight 19, a Martin PBM Mariner flying boat – designation PBM-5 BuNo 59225 – set out from Naval Air Station Banana River to search for the missing planes.
To add to the strange circumstances of Flight 19, PBM-5 BuNo 59225 then lost contact with base just three minutes after take-off. No one ever heard from the boat again and 13 more people had simply disappeared without trace.
How to relax on a holiday to Bermuda
These tragic losses were not alone for long: the region claimed three more planes over the next four years, and not only planes went missing in the region either.
One of the most mysterious occurrences was the loss of Connemara IV. In 1955, this private yacht was found drifting without its crew, who had vanished inexplicably. Two years later, the US military lost two more planes, also never to be discovered.
Bermuda: History, Culture and Things to See and Do
Entering the public consciousness
These bizarre tragedies soon embedded themselves in the public consciousness.
In the 1960s, a number of magazine articles drew attention to the seemingly high number of vessels that were lost in these waters between Bermuda, Miami and Puerto Rico.
The term ‘the Bermuda Triangle’ appeared at this time. Increasingly outlandish reasons for the disappearance of vessels in the area began to enter popular culture.
The widely successful book ‘The Bermuda Triangle’, by Charles Berlitz, was a major element in this sensationalism, blaming everything from UFOs to the lost city of Atlantis for the mysterious disappearances.
The book became something of a cultural phenomenon, selling 30 million copies and shaping many of the pop culture myths surrounding the Triangle.
The truth about the Bermuda Triangle?
In reality, a passage as busy as the North Atlantic Ocean is sure to have its fair share of accidents. The region’s susceptibility to cyclones and hurricanes compounds the issue even more, as it creates the conditions for such incidents to occur.
Statistics actually show that the area is no more dangerous than any other region of the world’s oceans. In 1975, a magazine editor contacted insurance company Lloyd's of London to inquire about payouts for incidents occurring within the Bermuda Triangle's recognised boundaries.
The numbers showed that 428 vessels were reported missing worldwide from 1955 to 1975, and the ‘Devil’s Triangle’ did not have a higher share of incidents compared to anywhere else.
Research has indicated that a compass failure doomed Flight 19, and the other tragedies are likely to have equally mundane explanations. That doesn’t mean that fascination over the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle doesn’t endure.
The area still ignites the imaginations of visitors to the region to this day.
Be delighted and amazed on a relaxing holiday to Bermuda
Bermuda: the facts
1. Bermuda was originally settled in 1609, when English colonists who were destined for America were shipwrecked on its shores. As a result, the island is one of the oldest British Overseas Territories.
2. The island is just north of the route that European ships would take to the ‘New World’ – England, Spain and France were all vying for control of Caribbean islands in the 17th century, so Bermuda was a good point to stop off, or be intercepted – speaking of which...
3. The island historically had a lot of trees, but not many other natural resources. This made Bermuda an ideal haven for shipbuilding and privateering – also known as piracy!
4. Bermuda became known as the Isle of Devils, due in part to the early islanders’ penchant for pouncing on merchant ships that sailed into the ‘wrong’ waters – there’s every chance that the Bermuda Triangle legend sprang from echoes of earlier maritime myths.
5. The island became a popular holiday destination in Victorian times – wealthy British and Anglo-Americans would holiday on Bermuda to escape the frosty British and North American winters.
6. As a British territory, Bermuda’s reigning monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, and the most popular religion is the Church of England – almost a quarter of residents (23%) are Anglicans.
7. The island doesn’t have a wealth of natural rivers or freshwater wells – early Bermudian settlers had to innovate to get drinking water from rainfall. Local houses have iconic white roofs that are designed to filter precipitation into underground tanks for household consumption.
8. Bermudian is the correct name for the island’s inhabitants – nobody local ever uses the word ‘Bermudan’ to describe themselves or their fellow islanders.
Booked your holiday? Protect it from the moment you buy Saga's Travel Insurance.