arly in our history of tourism, Elbow Beach, formerly “Elba Beach,”
was more iconic than Horseshoe Bay, thanks perhaps to the hotel
built on the site in 1908. Thousands of tourists would come to enjoy
sun and sand here, especially once North American students began
to descend for College Week from the 1950s on through the 1970s.
On Christmas Day, a new tradition has evolved in recent years—
thousands of locals arrive for a Christmas swim plus quantities of
champagne. Still very popular with visitors from abroad, the beach is
best early morning and evening for a less-crowded experience during the summer season.
Elbow is part of a magnificent strand of sand stretching from what is now the Coco
Reef Bermuda hotel, past Elbow Beach Hotel to Coral Beach on the western end.
Only one part of the beach, to the west of the hotel and to the east of Coral Beach, is
public where it is permissible for everyone to swim and sunbathe. That said, mornings
and evenings people often walk the whole stretch, which once we more appropriately
dubbed Sandy Banks. Sometimes, especially after windy weather, beachcombers can
find purple ocean snails. Enthusiastic swimmers love this part of the ocean for its easy
access to deeper water and for its proximity to the reef where snorkelling is excellent.
Elbow Beach is also known for spectacular sunrises—so much so that an Easter Sunday
sunrise service on the sand is held by Christchurch, Warwick. We like swimming after
dark here, especially on full moon nights when the moonlight shines upon the water.
No wonder Elbow Beach has often been the venue of marriage proposals.
Elbow Beach Park
Tribe Road No. 4, off South Road, Paget
Elbow Beach is mentioned in several
of our nineteenth-century travel
books before a hotel was dreamed
of. Two hundred years ago the sand
here was constantly on the move,
forming sand hills, the name formerly
given to the area. Susette Harriet
Lloyd in her Sketches of Bermuda
explains how the encroaching sand
buried whole trees and cottages.
Later, Elbow would become
famous for another reason: the 1915
wreck of the BR. S.S. Pollockshields
on the reef off its beach. Thanks to
the heroism of Antonio Marshall and
his men who rowed in a whaleboat
to rescue the crew, everyone was
saved except the captain who drowned
while trying to save the ship’s cat
and kittens. Today, the wreck is a
popular site for scuba divers.
The history of the beach and of
the hotel, founded in 1908, is vividly
recorded in local artist Graham
Foster’s mural painted on two walls
opposite each other at the entrance
of the newly renovated conference
rooms inside the Elbow Beach
Hotel. It’s well worth a visit for its
wealth of detail. E
PURPLE OCEAN SNAIL
ELBOW BEACH HOTEL
PHOTO: JESSICA RIEDERER