Katie Wood

After a truly horrible 2018, it was heaven to fly out in early 2019 to Barbados, dip my toes in the azure water and feel the warm Caribbean sun on my back in one of my favourite places on earth. Of all the islands in the West Indies, Barbados has the highest repeat business (43%) and is still the choice of the rich and famous year after year. (Not that I am either, but anyway, I love it).

The reason is simple – it’s safe; it’s beautiful, it’s relaxed, the locals are friendly, and it has some of the finest hotels and resorts in the world. Oh, and did I mention an average temperature all year of 30C? Let’s face it, not a small incentive, especially for sun-starved Scots.

I’m a bit of an old hand at Barbados, having first visited over 25 years ago, and I’ve clocked up nine visits now, and can’t wait for my 10th. I’ve never been disappointed, and each time I go, there are new attractions like Rihanna Drive, Nikki Beach, and now the regeneration of Speightstown, the second city of Barbados. St Nicholas Abbey now has the new development of a heritage railway. The train involved was originally built in 1914 for a sugar plantation in Java, but is now ensconced in Barbados, so now visitors can step back in time and enjoy a 45-minute adventure on the vintage locomotive. The railway travels 3km across open fields, through mahogany woodland and by the beautiful rock faces of the disused quarry. It allows you to enjoy sweeping views of the Scotland district.

The links between Scotland and Barbados are remarkable. The district called Scotland does indeed look like the rugged west coast of our country – just with palm trees and turquoise water. It’s extraordinary to come across local black people called Hamish McGregor or Kirsty MacDonald. The reason for this is that following the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion many Scots were transported as slaves to Barbados. They interbred with the African slaves and earned the moniker Red Shanks, as their pale Scottish skin got sunburned when wearing their kilts. I spent some time in the local museum researching this. Apart from other interesting tit-bits, it turns out that the first brothel in Barbados was started by one Rachel Pringle – the illegitimate daughter of a Scottish sea captain and a black mother from African descent. She obviously had the Scottish entrepreneurial streak as she made a darned good living out of it.

Each year, in late May, the Celtic Festival in Barbados celebrates the links. It all began in the 1990s when a Welsh woman brought her father’s male voice choir over from Wales to perform in the Frank Collymore Hall. Since then many famous faces from the Celtic areas of the world have taken part.

So, where to stay? Well this time I checked into the Sea Breeze Beach House – a wonderfully chilled all-inclusive hotel in Christchurch, near St Lawrence Gap. The resort is spread over three acres and has six dining venues, and is only a short walk from Oistins, famous for the Friday Night Fish Fry. The hotel’s beach is stunning, with 1000ft of white sand. You can have a massage in your room, and there are plenty of activities, but most people choose this resort because it is so laid-back and relaxing, with no blaring reggae and plenty of quiet areas to sit with a book and doze off. They offer free airport transfers, and rooms start at £993 per person sharing, all-inclusive accommodation for a week. Use code DIRECT to get an extra discount. It is a wonderful base from which to explore the island. See www.sea-breeze.com

If you seek a large private house, consider renting Clifton Hall Great House.

Lovingly restored by Glaswegian lawyer and football agent Massimo Franchi this beautiful old plantation house has six en-suite bedrooms. The mansion has three wings—the Caribbean Georgian structure which was added in the late 18th/early 19th century, together with the two original medieval-style wings that date back to the mid-1600s. See cliftonhallgreathouse.com.


British Airways flies from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Barbados via Gatwick return from £676 and £673 including all taxes. See ba.com or tel 0344 493 0120

Fot information on Barbados see visitbarbados.org