(CNN) The 35th America's Cup sailing competition begins on May 26 and runs through June 27, and it's Bermuda's moment in the sun, though Bermuda is almost always sunny. One step on this island, and it's impossible not to be moved by its beauty, history, simplicity and charm.
Bermuda is a fish hook-shaped 20.6-square-mile subtropical island in the middle of the North Atlantic, about 700 miles east of New York City and 1,000 miles north of the Caribbean.
Its infamous coral reefs are responsible for pink sand beaches as well as more than 300 shipwrecks. And because of its isolated geographical position, Bermuda's mix of turquoise and deep blue waters boggles the mind -- it's an oasis from a dark and stormy sea.
A quick history lesson
Years after a Spanish captain first discovered Bermuda in the early 1500s, a fleet of British ships departed Plymouth to sail to the then-colony of Virginia in 1602.
Several weeks into the crossing, a storm felled one of the ships, Sea Venture, separating it from the rest of the fleet. The ship ran aground on one of the reefs near Bermuda's eastern coast.
All 150 passengers survived and made it to land, and thus Bermuda became inhabited. (Fun note: this shipwreck is believed to be the inspiration for William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest," and there's even a cave at Grotto Bay named for Prospero.)
Wet and wild
The best way to experience Bermuda is on or near the water. Whether you sunbathe and swim, there's a beach for everyone -- from the famous pink sand beach at Horseshoe Bay to the tiny snorkeler's haven, Tobacco Bay.
If you wish to avoid crowds, there are so many options, sometimes only found on foot or by asking a local. Or seek out Jobson's Cove or any of the beaches around the border between Southampton and Warwick Parish.
Get on a boat (we recommend Rising Son catamaran for a snorkel day trip); and if you're feeling super spendy, opt for a private charter. Bermudian captains know their stuff and expertly navigate the treacherous waters to take swimmers, snorkelers, scuba divers and stand-up paddle boarders to the loveliest and glassiest, clearest spots.
Bermudians love cliff diving from Admiralty House Park (you can access via Deep Bay Beach), and wandering through the manmade tunnels and caves in the cove. It's also a favorite for rock climbing.
There's no better way to cap off a day of sun and surf than sipping a Dark 'n' Stormy, Bermuda's unofficial drink made with Gosling's Black Seal rum, ginger beer and lime.
As Bermuda was a British military stronghold for centuries, there are several forts to explore on the island that offer historic context, as well as breathtaking views.
Fort St. Catherine, located in St. George (itself a UNESCO World Heritage site worth a deep wander), has a proper exhibit, offers tours and displays artifacts such as crown jewels and artillery, but you can easily wander around yourself.
Other forts worth visiting are Fort Scaur in Sandy's Parish with its disappearing cannon, Gunpoint and Fort Hamilton.