TripAdvisor’s Not So Trusted Travel Advice
TripAdvisor, which bills itself as the world’s most trusted travel advice, just came out with their listing of the Top 10 Beach & Sun Destinations in the World. Number one on the list is Providenciales, otherwise known as Provo, in the Turks & Caicos. What a joke! I last went to Provo to write a scuba diving story on this Caribbean locale for Islands Magazine. Except for a sublime stretch of beach that was crowded with many overpriced hotels, I found the place to be another one of those scruffy islands in the Caribbean with no mountains, no waterfalls, no tropical allure, no beauty. It’s a culturally void locale where you can pop into the local bar and watch Monday Night Football on TV and feel like you’re back in the States. In fact, my favorite part of the trip was actually leaving the island and going underwater on a far more enchanting dive.
Number five on that same list is Myrtle Beach. This is one of the top beach destinations in the world?! Are you freaken kidding me?! Then there are two locales in Mexico, one in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, San Diego. Sure, they threw in the Cook Islands, Boracay, Philippines, and Byron Bay, Australia, but these are also bizarre choices. The first article I ever sold was on the Cook Islands, so it remains a nostalgic place for me. There’s a nice island trek across Rarotonga, but the landscape is not even in the same league as other South Pacific locales, like the mind-blowing verdant volcanic landscape of Bora Bora or any island in the Marquesas, French Polynesia. As for Byron Bay, it’s a popular place to hang for celebrities, but it can’t compete with the beaches north of Brisbane, like Coolangatta, or the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island.
This list wasn’t made by any one who can remotely call themselves the most trusted voice in travel. Judging from the list of locales, many of which are easy flights from the Northeast, I think it was written by some editor in the corporate offices of TripAdvisor in Boston, who has rarely traveled farther than Fenway Park. TripAdvisor is best used as a reference for hotels once you know exactly where you are going. I would never use them as expert opinion to find a stunning beach locale. Instead toss this list in the garbage and take my trusted expert advice, culled from over 20 years of being a professional travel writer. If you want one of the top beach and sun destinations in the world, start with Capetown, Folegandros, Greece, Kas, Turkey, the Gold Coast north of Brisbane, the Big Island of Hawaii, Savusavu, Fiji, Bahia, Brazil, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, the Seychelles, and yes, Bora Bora!