The world’s largest social media travel site – TripAdvisor – last week revealed its coveted “2012 Travellers’ Choice Beach Destinations Awards”, to chart what its reviewers say are the world’s hottest beaches (that’s hot as in ‘good’. Not hot as in ‘hot’. I mean, they probably are hot but…never mind).

The report makes for a good read, and throws up a couple of interesting omissions as well as surprise inclusions.

As I suspect you’re aware, TripAdvisor’s reviewers are average Joes, just like you or me. Actually, probably just you, unless you’re a travel writer too in which case your opinion of a beach is generally taken with a sea full of salt.

Nevertheless mercifully for Kenwood Travel those planning a Caribbean holiday can rest easy. For a second year running seven of the top 10 spots belong to beaches in the Caribbean.

Number one is a non-mover – Providenciales in Turks & Caicos – and it seems the resounding reason is its unspoilt charm. Holidays to Turks & Caicos are the Caribbean beach holiday for everyone – whether families, couples, weddings, or lone explorers (the reefs that surround are staggering).

Aruba holidays have gained a little momentum since last year, moving Palm/Eagle Beach up a place from third to second. The calm waters, perfect white sand beaches, and presumably its marked exclusion from the annual hurricane danger zone were likely contributors. A wealth of great water sports and diving activities can go on unabated by the weather, while the island’s laid-back vibe filters through the buzzing little bars as much as the understated 5-star resorts that line its shorefront.

The historic Mayan bedrock of Tulum, and the continued popularity of Cancun has allowed Riviera Maya and the Caribbean coast of Mexico to make the cut twice in the top 10, and again at number 12 with Playa Del Carmen (roughly a 40-minute drive south of Cancun).

Interestingly Cancun is a new entry in the top 10, clearly no longer just the hunting grounds of promiscuous students – although that option is still available. These days Cancun holidays are more eclectic, offering everything from all-inclusive resort packages that suit the whole family, to complete serenity. You might not think you can get away from it all here, but you’d be amazed at the level of seclusion a number of Cancun’s resorts can offer.

Meanwhile an unexpected but nevertheless welcome new entry to the top 10 is number nine, the Art Deco-tastic Miami Beach. It’s the beach of busty bodies, where the lifeguard huts are as turquoise as the water itself, and every car cruising the famous Ocean Drive that spans the length of the beach either tops at least 200mph, or is modified to look like it can.

Indeed further up the Floridian coast are Fort Lauderdale beach (Miami Beach for the more understated Floridian, that is, if we ignore the mega-yachts), occupying the number 18 spot, and Daytona Beach at number 17, which benefited enormously from a recent multi-million-dollar spring clean.

There were a couple of marked exclusions from the list.

One particularly sour note was the failure of any Australian beaches to make even the top 25. This struck as slightly odd, seeing as only a few months prior attendees to the Global Wave Conference in France – including scientists, legislators and surfers from over 20 different nations – agreed that Australia in fact had the best beaches in the world. At least for surfing, but you’d expect surfers would be reasonably well informed.

Speaking to, Andrew McEvoy, Managing Director of Tourism Australia, put the omission down to the lack of mass tourism to Australia, and the unique seclusion of many of Australia’s coastal gems, not tied to a row of resorts.

Another interesting omission is Phuket, usually a must-see destination for any holiday to Thailand and usually considered up there with the world’s finest. While Phuket’s Kata Beach features as sixth best beach in Asia, it does not make even the top 25. Some argue that its growing popularity has served only to diminish its mystery and draw larger crowds that serve only to leave a mess behind. This does co0ntrast slightly the foray of Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh into the list’s number 16 slot, a beach resort region that has boomed in tourism value in the last year.

The only Asian beach to feature in the top 25 is Boracay, Philippines, at number six – down from second position last year. Though this, and the prominence of the Caribbean, could be reflective of TripAdvisor’s predominant US-based user-ship.

TripAdvisor Top 10 Best Beaches in the World 2012 (2011 list in brackets):

  1. Providenciales, Turks & Caicos (Providenciales, Turks & Caicos)
  2. Palm/Eagle Beach, Aruba (Boracay, Philippines)
  3. Tulum, Mexico (Palm/Eagle Beach, Aruba)
  4. Negril, Jamaica (Negril, Jamaica)
  5. Saint Pete Beach, Florida (Tulum, Mexico)
  6. Boracay, Philippines (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
  7. Cancun, Mexico (Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman)
  8. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
  9. Miami Beach, Florida (Cape May, New Jersey)
  10. Varadero, Cuba (Santa Teresa, Costa Rica)

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