“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.