World's best beaches named and shamed
As a traveler, it’s often best to stay away from best beaches named by travel companies and half-starved freelance travel writers.
They’re often selling you a beach that comes with resorts they can sell (travel company) or gives them a free night's accommodation, meal and clean sheets (the freelance travel writer).
They are all photographed on that crystal-clear day: not during monsoon, or remarkably, even when a cloud is in the sky.
So don’t be too alarmed by Tripadvisor.com’s “World’s best beaches" list.
In spite of claims that it’s unbiased, it is inherently so: it’s voted by users of their service. The majority of people who use Tripadvisor.com (a Massachusetts-based, Expedia-owned company) are Americans who go to these popular beaches. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The spin …
"To provide inspiration on where to go, we've named some amazing hot spots around the world, based on millions of real and unbiased reviews and opinions from Tripadvisor travelers," said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for Tripadvisor. "In addition to the outstanding beaches, these destinations also feature top-rated options for hotels, vacation rentals, attractions and restaurants."
So where is the 'best' beach in the world?
In the northern Caribbean, according to Tripadvisor.com. The Island, Providenciales, has experienced rapid growth in high-end tourism, with visitor numbers tripling in the last decade. It's a hot spot.
Second on the list is Boracay, a beautiful beach that is geologically replicated along the Philippine archipelago. What is not replicated are the lady bars, cheap beer nights and high-end resorts that Tripadvisor customers like to visit.
Mexico, South Carolina and Jamaica followed.
Where were the Australian beaches?
No Australian beach rated in the top 25 beaches in the world.
But in the South Pacific list (the B-grade competition?) Australian beaches captured eight of the top 10 positions, easily beating lesser-known paradises. Byron Bay was runner-up to Bora Bora in French Polynesia.
Australian beaches that followed, in order, were: Surfers Paradise, Port Douglas, Broadbeach (incidentally, the same stretch of sand as Surfers Paradise) – and then in ninth place, Sydney, where Manly (north of the harbor) was grouped with Bondi and Coogee (ignoring Tamarama and Bronte in between).
What Sydney thinks
Such campaigns are annoying. The winners will ultimately be beaches that windswept, global travelers wouldn’t touch –- and should be treated with caution.
Perhaps the list should be renamed: “American resort-goers name their most popular destinations.”
But then nobody would go there.
In such cases, it's probably best to listen to half-starved travel writers, who may just tell the truth.