Sometimes, in the height of their summer, temperatures in the UK and Ireland can overtake those in the Caribbean. With later summers and blistering heatwaves, these spots could become the place to escape to during winter.
In the midst of a pandemic, the UK and the Caribbean feel a long way away, but these destinations should definitely be on your travel list when the world reopens.
Here are a few British and Irish destinations that can seamlessly sub in for the tropics.
1. Calgary Bay – Isle of Mull, Scotland
Scottish islands have an odd habit of looking faintly tropical – unspoiled sands, blue-green seas, invariably lush surroundings – and Calgary Bay is one of several striking seafronts to look almost out of place on the Isle of Mull. The illusion only goes so far, and would-be bathers receive a short, sharp reminder that they’re closer to Iceland than Barbados.
And yes, the Canadian city by the name of Calgary, and former Winter Olympics host, was named after this tiny Scottish hamlet, which literally means “beach of the meadow”.
2. Silver Strand Beach – County Donegal, Ireland
The Irish coastline is famously rocky and rugged, but between the long stretches of cliff lie some of the purest sands this side of the Bahamas. A horseshoe-shaped beach straight from the pages of a geography textbook, the Silver Strand in County Donegal is fairly remote, swimmable, and so bright it almost hurts to look at on a sunny summer’s day.
Part of the Wild Atlantic Way, the beach is protected by verdant headlands on both sides, and the deepening bay showcases every shade of marine blue.
3. Isles of Scilly – Cornwall, England
An isolated micro-climate some about 40km off the coast of Land’s End, the Isles of Scilly serve up the mildest winters anywhere in the British Isles, and host a wide range of exotic flora you might otherwise only see in the Eden Project.
The Tresco Abbey Garden, in particular, is home to charming succulents, towering Echiums and a smattering of giant palms, offering up genuine Caribbean credentials far beyond anything on the mainland.
4. Sgwd Yr Eira – Brecon Beacons, Wales
A beauty spot that would befit the jungles of Costa Rica as much as the mountains of Wales, Sgwd Yr Eira lies at the end of a circular walking route that also visits an atmospheric Iron Age fort and a derelict gunpowder factory.
A 50ft (15.2m) curtain of water surrounded by overhanging branches and moss-covered rock, this triple waterfall is so sizeable visitors can walk behind it and still stay dry, while the Welsh name literally translates as “falls of snow”.
5. Porthminster Beach – Cornwall, England
Another Cornish-Caribbean crossover, but this time on the mainland, Porthminster is probably the best-known beach on our list, adjoined as it is to former UK Seaside Town of the Year, St. Ives. While the village’s white brick cottages and cobbled streets are as quintessentially English as they come, across the harbour Porthminster serves up a slice of sand half a mile long and shimmering turquoise shallows.
A smattering of palm trees adds tropical flare, and during high season the tidal wave of tourists easily rivals the rammed resorts of Jamaica or Aruba.
6. Garnish Island – Ireland
Ensconced in the harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, Garnish Island has served as a carefully curated haven for exotic flora since its inception in the early 20th century. We’re sure amateur botanists could pinpoint plants from all corners of the Earth – to us they just look tropical.
Visitors to the island can enjoy the brightly coloured blooms alongside a clock tower and a Grecian temple.
Would you rather visit the UK or somewhere in the Caribbean? Where’s your favourite Australian winter escape?
– With PA
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