As a frequent traveler, my credo is “I’ll try almost anything once.” That open-mindedness has served me well. The huge majority of my travel experiences have been very much worth having. But I’ve had a few duds—destinations to be crossed off the wish list and never considered again. Most travelers I know have their anti-favorite list of overrated places. Here is mine.
Keep in mind that my visit to these places was quite a while ago. Things may have improved since then.
I always dreamed of going here. It sounded like nirvana. The sparkling blue water around the island is spectacular, but that one beautiful view gets old pretty quick.
More than one friend of mine calls this island “boring boring.” The reefs and water are absolutely spectacular, but how long can you stare at fish? There’s nothing else to do. The resorts are on their own private motus (islets), so there’s no nightlife, and guests aren’t looking to socialize at all as they’re all on their honeymoons. And the “France in the South Pacific” marketing is not a selling point: French Polynesia offers the worst combination of Gallie snobbishness and island indifference. And it’s expensive. If you want Polynesia, just go to Hawaii. If you want exotic, go all the way to Asia, where your money will go a whole lot further.
Dubai proves that bigger isn’t always better.
I don’t mind glorious excess, but Dubai is just too much. “The Las Vegas of the Middle East,” as Dubai is often called, is really a half-finished monument to wretched excess. Also, it’s hot. When I visited, there were also grim reminders everywhere of the economic crash in 2009; abandoned skyscraper skeletons with idle cranes on top, billboards advertising the Ferrari that would be thrown in along with the purchase of a luxury condo. Still, shopping remains the most popular sport (and international draw) here, but that’s another non-selling point for me. Yes, you can ski at the Mall of the Emirates. Know where else you can ski? Mountains right here in the U.S.
No, I didn’t see all the islands, but what I saw didn’t encourage me to go back. I got to St. Maarten, St. Barts, Antigua, Grenada, and Puerto Rico, and wondered why I bothered. It was a collection of the dullest, non-scenic, little volcanic eruptions you could imagine. No culture, no scenery. The water was warm but there was little reason to spend so much time being bored.
To be honest, we only saw Casablanca and Rabat but there wasn’t much to see there. We went to the Kasbah early and it was kind of a barren, mostly closed mall. Rick’s Bar of Bogart’s movie fame was a non-descript, second floor hangout.
Club Med, Moorea
Very French, very spartan, and very wet. A whole week of rain is not the best way to see anyplace. With only a single light bulb in the center of the room, there was no place to read or relax. The lobby was a loud, noisy (all French) scene. I’ve never been anywhere I wanted to leave so badly.
A few other spots I would have enjoyed missing:
Duluth, MN – A drab, one-horse town on the shore of Lake Superior.
Ushuaia, Argentina – The southern-most city in South America and maybe the windiest. A few stores and not much else. Only redeeming feature is that it’s the gateway to Tierra del Fuego, a great park, and Antartica.
Rio de Janiero, Brazil – The view from the Christ statue on top of Sugarloaf Mountain is spectacular. The rest of the city just seemed like a lot of hype without much substance. Ipanema Beach was a nothing. I’ll take Santa Monica or Hawaii anytime.
Seabourn Adriatic Cruise – Venice and Dubrovnik are great ports, but the other four or five were a total waste of time and Seabourn was over impressed with themselves.
Ayers Rock in Australia was hardly worth the time involved to get there. It was super hot. You had to wear mosquito netting and a weekend in Sedona is a much better red- rock experience. On top of all that, I got a toothache there.
After 80 trips or so, these few didn’t diminish the overall enjoyment of travel.