THE SELECTION of a South Wales beach rather than a New South Wales beach in a TripAdvisor survey of the world’s best beaches has provoked furore in Australia, with only Queensland’s Whitehaven Beach making an appearance in the website’s list of the world’s best spots to enjoy surf and sand.
The TripAdvisor survey, which listed Rabbit Beach in Sicily as the number one beach in the world, included Rhossili Bay near Swansea as the tenth best piece of coastline as voted by the popular website’s patrons. Australia’s Whitehaven Beach was voted to be the third best beach on the list, however the exclusion of other popular Australian locations such as Bondi Beach and the Gold Coast has sparked fierce debate over the legitimacy of the decision.
Journalist Anthony Sharwood hit back at the TripAdvisor survey in The Australian yesterday, claiming that it was an “insult” that only one Australian beach had been included in TripAdvisor’s top ten list. He went on to say that the presence of Rhossili Bay in tenth position was something he “simply could not believe”.
Sharwood wrote: “Now, obviously no Brit should ever be consulted on the matter of taste. These, after all, are the people who have eagerly swallowed Australian exports like Foster’s and Peter Andre which all sensible Australians have long since rejected. So how can you expect them to understand what makes a good beach?”
Sharwood spoke of a conversation he had with Julian Short, proprietor of the Worm’s Head Hotel in Rhossili, in which the long-time local spoke about the conditions faced by those who are brave enough to visit “the world’s tenth best beach”.
Short said: “Kids always come out with goose pimples on them, and some people run around in duvets to keep themselves warm. I would probably go to your beaches. Let’s be honest, how on earth would anyone not prefer Bondi Beach with those gorgeous girls?”
Rhossili Bay, which was heavily featured in images used to promote the United Kingdom during the 2012 Olympics, has an average water temperature of between 14 to 18 degrees during the peak of summer. Current water temperature is around 6 degrees, explaining the tendency of swimmers to leave the beach with the “goose pimples” described by Short.
Matthew Oates from Britain’s National Trust said that one of the key benefits that Rhossili Bay enjoyed was that it was relatively untouched in comparison to its more commercialised counterparts. Rhossili Bay makes up one section of the world famous Gower Peninsula, owned by the National Trust and preserved for future generations of British beachgoers.
Oates said: “It is the purest of the sand, disappearing into the distance. There is no 20th century clutter, no traffic, no houses. It is famous for its sunsets. It is uncluttered. It is pristine. To quote TS Eliot: It is the still point of the turning world.”
Councilor David Phillips, leader of the County of Swansea where Rhossili Bay is located, said that he was “delighted, but not surprised” that the South Wales location was recognised as one of the world’s ten best beaches. He credited its inclusion to Rhossili Bay’s “natural beauty” and said that he hoped that the survey results encouraged more people to visit the area.
The top ten beaches in the world voted for in the contentious TripAdvisor survey were:
1. Rabbit Beach, Sicily – Italy
2. Grace Bay, Providenciales – Turks and Caicos
3. Whitehaven Beach, Queensland – Australia
4. Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha – Brazil
5. Flamenco Beach (Playa Flamenco), Culebra – Puerto Rico
6. Playa de las Catedrales, Ribadeo – Spain
7. Lopes Mendes Beach, Ilha Grande – Brazil
8. Horseshoe Bay Beach, Southampton Parish – Bermuda
9. Eagle Beach – Aruba
10. Rhossili Bay, Rhossili, Swansea – Wales