Top 10 Beaches in America (2008)

“Dr. Beach,” also known as Stephen Leatherman, is director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research. He uses 50 criteria in selecting the best beaches — including water and sand quality, facilities and environmental management — and his picks always attract nationwide notice.

No. 1: Caladesi Island State Park in Clearwater/Dunedin, Fla.

Dr. Beach describes Caladesi Island State Park as a “well-kept secret. Surrounded by a lush state park, few people in Tampa seem to know its whereabouts.” In picking this as the No. 1 beach, he cites its “powder white sand, warm, crystal-clear water and beautiful nature.”

caladesi island state park

No. 2: Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

The rural shores of Hanalei Bay Beach, located on Kauai’s North Shore, are great for families and surfers alike. Surfing, swimming and walking are the best activities over here.

Last year’s No. 2 beach was Caladesi Island State Park, Clearwater/Dunedin, Fla., which moved up to the top spot this year.

hanalei beach

No. 3: Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Fla.

Siesta Key Beach is located on Beach Rd on Siesta Key Barrier Island. It is famous for its sand, which is made up of 99% quartz, and is soft, blindingly white, and always cool under your feet. The water here is beautiful and calm and It is fairly shallow near the shore.

Last year’s No. 3 beach was Coopers Beach, Southampton, N.Y., which dropped to No. 4 this year.

siesta beach

No 4. Coopers Beach, Southampton, N.Y.

The rural shores of Coopers Beach, located on New York’s Atlantic Coast, are perfect for a summertime getaway. Swimming and walking are the best activities over here.

Last year’s No. 4 was Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Hawaii, which moved up to No. 2 this year.

coopers beach

No. 5: Coronado Beach, San Diego

Coronado Beach is perfect for that classic lazy weekend on the beach and watching the sun set over the Pacific. Active beach goers can enjoy the great volleyball, tide pool exploration, and riding along the bike path, which is just south of the landmark Hotel Del Coronado.

Last year’s No. 5 was Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.

coronado beach

No. 6. Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.

The urban shores of East Hampton-Main Beach, located on New York’s Atlantic Coast, are great for families and surfers alike. Swimming, fishing, surfing and walking are the best activities over here.

In 2007, Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii, was No. 6.

main beach

No. 7: Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii

The remote, scenic shores of Hamoa Beach, located on Maui’s Hana Coast, are great for families and surfers alike. Fishing, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Surfing, Swimming and Walking are the best activities over here.

2007 No. 7 beach: Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.

hamoa beach

No. 8: Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, N.C.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a fascinating combination of natural and cultural resources, and provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities. These dynamic islands provide a variety of habitats and are a valuable wintering area for migrating waterfowl. The park’s fishing and surfing are considered the best on the east coast.

Last year’s No. 8 was Coronado Beach, San Diego, which moved up to No. 5 this year.

cape hatteras

No. 9: Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Fla.

Located on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Beach boasts 1.25 miles of urban shoreline. Fishing, hiking, swimming and walking are the best activities over here.

Last year’s No. 9 beach was Lighthouse Point Park, Daytona Beach, Fla.

cape florida state park

No. 10: Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.

The remote, scenic shores of Beachwalker County Park, located on South Carolina’s Atlantic Coast. Fishing, Hiking, Swimming and Wildlife Viewing are considered as the best activities over here.

Last year’s No. 10 was Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Fla., which is No. 3 this year.

beachwalker park

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RSSComments (13)

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  1. John thomas says:

    Wow, looks like some beautiful places.

  2. That makes me want to head out to the beach right now. Of course, I left the East Coast for (way too) sunny Arizona, but what I wouldn’t do for a beach right now.

    Of my favs is Pacific Beach (San Diego, CA) and the other is somewhere near Boca Raton, FL (Deerfield maybe? – so many nice beaches down in FL it’s hard to remember).


    The Travel Ringer

  3. american says:

    American beaches? I only see ones located in the USA, some of these beaches here suck compared to Mexican/Cuban/Dominican/etc beaches…

  4. if LaniKai Beach in Oahu isn’t on this list the list is incomplete, c’mon NY vs. Hawaii? no comparison, Hawaii beaches should probably even be excluded from this list because of unfair advatange.

  5. have you being to Maldives beaches, wow it is paradise, check out

  6. Chris says:

    My family just got back from our yearly beach vacation a couple of weeks ago. This time we went to Ocean Isle Beach, NC. We absolutly loved it there. It has this easy going atmosphere there and all the locals were really friendly. We had rented a beach house for the week that we were there through Sloane Vacations and couldn’t have been more happier. We got the house for an amazing rate and their staff was very helpful. I definatly recommend them if you’re looking to vacation in North Carolina.

  7. andrej says:

    come to see Croatian beaches

  8. jim says:

    Come on. How can you leave off the beaches of Lake MIchigan. Sugar sand, clear water, sand bottom…and no salt or critters. Mother Nature’s swimming pool!

  9. The beaches in Sarasota are beautiful. I am not surprised that it is on the list. I have vacationed over there many times. I prefer to drive over to the west coast beaches than to go to the east coast beaches of Florida, and I live closer to the east coast!

  10. Derek says:

    Nothing beats lounging on the beach in Pensacola, FL when the Blue Angel’s are performing!

  11. Jon says:

    I might add Oak Street Beach in Chicago. It’s an oasis for city people located in the heart of the Mag Mile.

  12. coach sydney says:

    Awesome beaches … Perfect place for a holiday ! Should go there one day!

  13. Leon Laos says:

    Wooooow, beautiful beaches man, wish i could visit all of them 🙂

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