Have I Become a Beach Snob? (And the Danger of Comparisons)
“The water isn’t quite as blue as I was expecting”.
“Why is there so much seaweed”?
“There are too many rocks in the water; swimming would be hard”.
These are some of the thoughts I had recently while exploring the beaches of Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. Don’t get me wrong, Little Corn is a great island and the beaches were nice, but are they as nice as the ones in the Maldives, Indonesia or the Philippines? Probably not, but comparing them, and anywhere that you happen to travel, is best avoided.
I was trying to sum up the Little Corn Island to a friend in Bluefields (that we met in Guatemala) who was considering taking the arduous journey (it took us 2 full days on a boat, but more on that another day). I don’t think I did a great job of “selling” it and he said that I might have become a beach snob, which is probably true. I blame the Maldives for that – how can anywhere compare to the amazing white sand beaches and luminous blue water of those tiny islands?
Fighting the will to compare
While I wouldn’t consider myself well travelled at all, I have been to some pretty awesome places over the last 5 years. I’ve seen amazing beaches, stunning waterfalls and exotic river villages. I’ve climbed to spectacular viewpoints and seen some of the most iconic and beautiful cities in the world. So, when you get to a waterfall that isn’t quite as stunning and cities that will never appear on a “Top 50 cities in the world list” it’s hard not to compare them and feel a little short changed. While hard to avoid, it’s definitely not the best way to go about things. I’ve found almost everywhere has its charms, and even though a beach, or a town, might not quite measure up to others it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it for what it is. The same goes for hotels, food and pretty much everything related to travel. Once I reminded myself of this on Little Corn Island I enjoyed it a lot more.
Little Corn Island
How to avoid negative comparisons
One way to avoid being let down by somewhere that “isn’t as good” as a previous destination is to meticulously plan your travels to make sure you’re only going to amazing places. You could view hundreds of photos of a place to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into and read countless blog posts and articles about why people love it so much. While I guess that would work, half the fun of travel is discovering things for yourself – which obviously opens you up to the risk of that place that no one else rates being a complete waste of time. This does happen (not very often) but is far outweighed by the amazing places you’ll find that you’d never heard of before.
Another way to combat this issue would be to slowly build up to places and not jump straight to somewhere like the Maldives. Why not visit the beaches of Somalia (I’ve heard they’re lovely this time of year) first and eventually build up to the big guns, that way your comparisons will be favourable.
The best way though is to look at each place you visit with a fresh pair of eyes – our brains are actually pretty clever and will usually find something positive to see. A good example of this is a little town on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua called Bluefields (where I’m writing this post from) – I’ve heard nothing good about this town but I’ve actually kind of enjoyed my 4 nights here. It’s never going to be a highlight of anyone’s trip, but I’ve appreciated the interesting culture, great food (some say the best in Nicaragua) and the lively Palo de Mayo Festival (a bit like a poor man’s Rio Carnival – there go the comparisons again!).
Palo de Mayo, Bluefields
I thought this post was about beaches…
Sorry, I’ll get back on track. I think I have become a beach snob – but I’ve also learnt to appreciate the beaches I go to for what they are, not in comparison to somewhere on the other side of the world. If you also become a beach (or volcano, colonial city etc) snob you can still take comfort in knowing that at least you’re not a wine snob – that’d be the worst.
Do you compare places that you travel to? Are you a beach snob too? Let me know!