And a namecheck here to my friends at VisitScotland who posited this question in their 2021 call to the arms.
I say both.
And both Scotland and the Caribbean were on my mind when I returned to Scotland on this day after 13 years in Ireland.
Now Ireland and the United Kingdom have their beaches too but my fave is a stretch of sand in the Caribbean.
Home and away
Home and away these are my coastal champs.
Berneray: Well, if it’s good enough for Prince Charles who spent some time living and working here for a TV documentary.
We’d have ended up having to do the same had we not made a run for it backpacks weighing us down.
We had lost all track of time on the island (population 138) between North and South Uist in Scotland’s Western Isles.
That was then before the causeway was built which logistically may help the islanders, but…
Hammocks in Tobago
Lovers’ Bay, Tobago: Like all the best beaches this one is secluded and can only be reached by private boat.
Unless you’re a German trekking party we met who thought nothing of the 30C to walk through the wood to the beach.
Probably how Robinson Crusoe did it but then we’ve come on since then.
A boarded up shack sits on the beach promising beer beside a swing.
And while my party either swam or paddled I made for the hammock, lay back, took in the sun and dreamt I was Crusoe.
Portnoo the noo
Portnoo, Donegal, Ireland: And aren’t the places of our childhood the most special?
And the girls… Helens of Joy, one who I proposed to in elementary school and another who became a summer companion .
We would go crab hinting in the eddies on the beach and run with Dinky, the guest house Welsh corgi, on the beach.
And walk at low tide over to the graveyard island.
I took my Mum, a proud native of Donegal back a couple of years ago and the place hadn’t changed a bit.
Doggone Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach, Southern California: You don’t have to go to Surf City in Huntington Beach for a beach party.
But when Snoop Dogg invites you then it would be rude not to.
I’ll be back to see how Bono, the superstar pooch gets on when they all take to the water again.
And I’m back in California.
Barry Island, not Barry’s Island
Barry Island, Wales: And anyone who has watched British TV sitcom Gavin and Stacey will recognise the wearisome counter Mick gives to Pamelar.
Barry Island is an old-fashioned Welsh seaside resort near Cardiff and has been given a shot in the arm from the hit TV show.
Long before that union between Essex and Wales a humble wannabe scribbler sought out Barry Island’s reviving charms when he failed an exam in Cardiff.
Wherever you are now, Whitey, I owe you a 99 and a bucket of coins for what are now Nessa’s Slots
Surf’s up in Portugal Centro
Nazare, Portugal Centro: And for all that California claims to be the centre of the surfing world, Portugal is where they have the biggest waves.
A link here though in Garrett McNamara.
He surfs with canine champion Bono in Huntington Beach.
And he broke the world surfing record with a 78ft monster off the coast of Portugal.
The beaches of Portugal Centro surpass the best in the Algarve, either for romantic walks or for surfing dudes.
The quality of Mersey
Blundellsands, Merseyside, England: And they’ve built a statue since I lived there, Quite right.
Only this statue is one of the Antony Gormley statues.
Another Place which stand on the stretch of the beach from Crosby through Blundellsands to Waterloo.
Gormley, you might know from his Angel of the North statue near Newcastle.
I’m holding out for someone to build a Bandanaman of Barbados of me!
Bean bags in Kuramathi
Kuramathi, The Maldives: It’s that moment when someone is talking to you and you’re nodding off but catch yourself in time.
Except this time I didn’t.
In my defence I had taken numerous flights to get there.
I’d eaten my own weight, drunk a couple of Strawberry Daiquiris and fallen back into the beanbag.
And dreamt that I was in a palm-treed, no traffic idyll on the Indian Ocean.