Tripadvisor is the subject of regular debate within the travel writing/travel blogging community. It gets discussed a lot because although it’s the number one ‘go to’ site for many holidaymakers, it has well documented flaws.
Tripadvisor reviews can be incredibly useful or they can be misleading. If you know how to decipher reviews, they tell you a lot. Tripadvisor’s forums are similar. There’s good advice and there’s bad advice. Other travel forums, including Lonely Planet’s, are no different.
Sometimes incorrect advice is given by trouble-making trolls, mostly it’s people genuinely trying to help. However, the road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions.
There are a number of reasons why anyone accidentally gives wrong advice about Tenerife. Often it is because they haven’t experienced first hand the topic they’re advising about. Another common reason is something classed in business/training practices as being one of the four stages of learning – unconscious incompetence. Basically, we don’t know what we don’t know.
Advice people give can be based on their experiences. They’ve experienced something, so that makes their advice valid. But it doesn’t necessarily make it 100% accurate, especially if that experience is limited.
Here are a selection of Tenerife questions recently posed on Tripadvisor to illustrate what I’m talking about.
How lively is Adeje?
The question was in relation to Los Cristianos regarding bars/shops etc. One person responded “Costa Adeje is far more lively than LC (Los Cristianos)” whilst another confirmed there were “plenty of bars/restaurants…some good places for entertainment.”
Neither answer is exactly wrong, but both could be misleading. Another response explains why – “It’s a really big area with everything from really lively to quiet and relaxing.”
Costa Adeje covers a huge area which includes various resort areas. Some parts have lots of bars and restaurants, others don’t. Unwitting holidaymakers given misleading advice could find they have a trek to get to bars and restaurants.
Shopping in Santa Cruz
A cruise passenger wanted to know if there was decent shopping in Santa Cruz. The first reply advised that apart from one shopping centre and El Corte Inglés it wasn’t the place to go shopping.
Santa Cruz describes itself as a shopper’s paradise to the extent an official city guidebook claims it’s the biggest open air shopping centre in Europe. I’m not sure about that claim, but it’s definitely a good place to go shopping.
Northern Tenerife in February
Someone interested in rural accommodation in the north queried whether it would be colder inland at the end of February. An answer of ‘yes’ with an explanation why was a good one. But then the person who responded strayed from the path by suggesting places like San Miguel de Abona could be 10 degrees colder than the coast and ‘there wasn’t much up there’, advising the original poster to consider Arafo, Esperanza or Granadilla de Abona. However, three of these four places are in the south and the question was specifically about the north where there’s loads of cosy rural accommodation at various altitudes, some near bustling towns. There’s plenty in the south as well but the person who responded based their answer on what they knew rather than what was actually available across Tenerife. As a result the original poster decided to go to another island.
A question about La Caleta prompted a couple of replies which painted an image of a quaint, unspoilt fishing village with great restaurants. They made me think of picturesque Greek fishing villages. La Caleta still has charm around its little harbour area and it does have good restaurants. But its days of being unspoilt have gone.
Are there mosquitoes?
Each time this question is asked there are numerous replies along the lines of ‘I’ve been coming to Tenerife for 20 years and never seen a mosquito’. Yet there are others who get bitten regularly.
There are mosquitoes on Tenerife but not a lot. You’ll find them more in some areas than others and, importantly, they only appear at certain times of the year. Tenerife fans often visit the island at the same time each year. If that happens to be at time when there aren’t mossies, then they’ll never see one. Therefore there aren’t mosquitoes on Tenerife… in their experience. However, the little bloodsucking fellow whining past my head as I type this says otherwise.
Is it cold up Teide?
We’ve seen a family turn up in beach type wear in November after the sun had left the crater; they were frozen.
One of the first replies although mostly good got one thing wrong. You won’t find snow on the peak during the height of summer. The latest I’ve seen snow on Teide was in June. Usually there can be snowy periods between November and April. Even then the snow comes and goes. In August the air temperature on the summit hovered between 11 and 14C. In the shade that’s cool, but in full sunshine it can still feel hot on Teide’s upper slopes. Cool or warm also depends on whether people turn up in the cable car and stand around or whether they explore. Doing any exercise makes all the difference, especially when there is no shade. In February it can drop as low as -10C and sometimes lower.
One reply included the most sensible advice you can give to people heading up the volcano at any time of the year – wear layers. You can always take a jumper or jacket off if it’s too warm.
Does anyone know where to get churros
A reply illustrated again why personal experiences don’t always reflect the full picture. A regular visitor asked for churros (a type of Spanish doughnut) in a bakery years ago and was told by an assistant with a Birmingham accent if they wanted churros they should have gone to Madrid. They added they had never had churros on Tenerife.
There are a couple of things this reply reveals. The Birmingham accent suggests it was highly unlikely the bakery was located in a traditional area. The less traditional an area is, the more difficult it is for people to find Spanish/Canarian food and specialities.
Churros are common on Tenerife. Anyone walking from the car park in Puerto de la Cruz to the harbour has to walk past a ‘churros con chocolate’ sign. There are churreria vans at fiestas and fairs. Even in many hotels you’ll find breakfast buffets with churros. The only other reply helpfully gave the name and address of a churreria in Los Cristianos.
The person who replied first had never seen churros on Tenerife therefore, like the ninja mosquitoes, they didn’t exist. Unconscious incompetence – you don’t know what you don’t know.
I’ve chosen queries that were a bit different as they tend to attract fewer responses and are often the ones where advice can go astray. With most of the queries there was accurate and helpful advice in there, but there were also incorrect and misleading answers, which makes it difficult for anyone who doesn’t know the island.
Sometimes responses are spectacularly wrong. A few years ago there was a question from someone wanting to visit the pyramids on Tenerife to which came a knowing reply along the lines of “I think you’ll find you’re on the wrong forum; that’s Egypt.”
The person who replied and who didn’t know there were pyramids on Tenerife had destination expert status for a part of the island.
That’s the yin and yang of online travel advice.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+