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Taking issue with CNN’s top 100 world beaches list…Not even close on Venice Beach!

Waikiki Beach on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Not even a top 100 vote?

Waikiki Beach on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Not even a top 100 vote?


Nobody will ever agree – ever – with anyone else’s list. That almost goes without saying.
What you think are the top 10 wines in the world are almost certainly not mine. And I’ll never understand Academy Award or Grammy Award voters.
So it’s probably not surprising that I take a bit of umbrage (and that I’m also dissatisfied) with CNN’s list of the top 100 beaches of the world.
Before I launch a miniature rant, let me say I’m actually pretty happy with this list. I usually think of CNN as pretty U.S. focussed, but this is a very worldly list with lots of representation from places like Egypt, the Maldives and Vietnam. They also have mixed in some cold-climate beaches, including Prince Edward Island here in Canada and a beach in Scotland (Luskentyre, for those of you keeping score at home).
So that’s nice. I also have to say I’m not in a great position to comment on many of the choices, as I’ve never been to Egypt or the Maldives or anywhere in South America, for that matter.
But, still, I have to note that they are WAY off the mark on some of their choices. The top choice in Hawaii, Hanalei, ranks only 27th. The only other representation from the Aloha State is Punalu’u on the Big Island, a black sand beach that’s very hard to reach but looks pretty. I give CNN kudos on that front, as any good, readable list should have at least a couple of “gee, I’ve never heard of this place but I’d love to go” entries. But how do you leave off Waikiki? Even if you think it’s overdeveloped, and it is, this is the beach that in some ways launched world tourism. It’s beyond iconic, and deserves at least a mention somewhere in the top 100. Especially since CNN put flat and almost featureless Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos at number three, a position that defies explanation.
Santa Monica's beach beats next-door Venice Beach by a mile.

Santa Monica’s beach beats next-door Venice Beach by a mile.


The worst choice, by far, is putting Venice Beach in the top 100 (they ranked it 73rd in the world). I guess it’s okay if you like cheesy shops and steroid-mad weightlifters, but if being “interesting” is the criteria why is Waikiki not on the list? Or South Beach in Miami? Venice Beach is okay, but it’s not even close to being as pretty as Laguna Beach in Orange County or Capitola Beach in northern California, another family fave. Santa Monica beach, next to Venice, offers far prettier views, as well as the wonderful Santa Monica Pier.
So, CNN, there’s no soup for you on the Venice Beach pick.
Likewise, Negril isn’t even close to being the best beach in Jamaica. The water is pretty and the beach goes on forever, but the water is way too shallow to do much of anything with except sail or have what amounts to a sea-water bath. Much prettier and interesting, with small waves and usually excellent snorkelling, is the beach at the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios. Also much better than Negril is the crescent beach at Half Moon Bay.
The beach at the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios is vastly superior to Negril.

The beach at the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios is vastly superior to Negril.


As a Canadian/American, I do like seeing Cavendish Beach in Prince Edward Island in the number 54 spot. Canada has marvellous beaches from coast to coast and definitely should’ve landed something else in the top 100. It’s a major oversight on CNN’s part to not include one of the amazing, endless beaches that like the Lake Huron shore in my home province of Ontario. The boating is terrific, the swimming excellent (once the ice melts) and the sunsets magical.
Still, it’s a very complete and varied list with some definite surprises and lesser-known spots, including (at least for me) Grande Anse Beach in the Seychelles in at number one And it’s not at all America-centric.
I like that they have Crane Beach in Barbados at number 23. And I like seeing three entries from lovely New Zealand. And I like that they put the powdery, white sand of Panama City Beach, Florida in at number 51, the only entry from the Sunshine State. Trunk Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands should be much higher than 48th but I agree with Tulum, Mexico in at number 12.
Any comments? Feel free to send me a note: jim@jimbyerstravel.com

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