*Photo by Peter Matcham
*Photo by Peter Matcham

Tobacco Bay’s new array of beach activities has proved not to be everyone’s cup of tea.

A host of entertainment options including fly boarding, jet skiing and paddle boarding was launched this summer by the beach’s new operators, Beach Boys. But some visitors to the popular beauty spot in St George’s have been turned off by the “over commercialization” of this secluded location known for its tranquil waters and idyllic snorkelling.

A string of online comments on both the Bermuda Sun website and the popular cruise website CruiseCritic.com have criticized the latest attempts to revitalize St George’s. But Belcario Thomas, Beach Boys’ General Manager, said: “Generally the feedback on our beach enhancements from key stakeholders and online reviews have been pretty encouraging. We don’t know of any business like ours that is able to please all people all the time, however there does seem to be a bit of misinformation.

“Beach Boys can confirm we do not operate any motorized vehicles out of Tobacco Bay.

“Jet Ski tours can be arranged for guests who are shuttled to the Dinghy club to depart from there.

“On the rare occasions when Flyboarding occurs with an independent vendor, it is outside of the cove far from swimmers.” But Becky Britz commented on the Bermuda Sun website: “This absolutely ruined Tobacco Bay. It used to be a snorkeller’s paradise, and now it’s a hot mess of commercialism. What a shame.”

While the new entertainment options also attracted criticism on Cruise Critic. One poster stated: “My heart grew heavy when I read this. Tobacco Bay holds a special place in my heart because of the spectacular sea life and ease of off the beach snorkelling.

“I was looking forward to bringing my daughters to this serene little slice of paradise, but alas, my conscience will not allow me to do that. I have no interest in loud, obnoxious music along with loud, obnoxious beach toys.

“The new beach toys will destroy the underwater world as I knew it.”

Another added: “I was looking forward to bringing two of my sons and a few friends to Tobacco Bay Beach to snorkel in October. Why can’t it remain quiet and semi unknown.”

Further comments included “I am surprised that Bermuda allowed this to exist at Tobacco Bay. Those flying, water propulsion things must disturb (destroy) everything on the bottom on the sea. This is the complete ruination of Tobacco Bay.”

Another US commenter said:

“It definitely did not appear the way it has been presented on here as a somewhat quiet snorkelling cove.

“Seemed more of a party atmosphere. We kept moving down the road and did not stop there.”

Responding to the criticism, Mr Thomas added: “Our company’s core culture is committed to responsibly enhancing the public beach experience by focusing on safety and cleanliness.

“Public Works, the Companies and Marine & Ports have been very supportive in collaborating to improve the beach product for our guests.

“The island boasts over 200 beaches, and over 90 per cent or more are designated as “pristine” so one has quality non-commercial choices while about 10 per cent are designated as “active”.

“Entrepreneurial Bermudians who can begin collaborating and competing together to enhance our active beach experiences can play a big part in revitalizing tourism for the next generation of travellers who simply want to enjoy a bit more fun in the sun.”