Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, has selected an annual top 10 US beaches list every year since 1991. Fifty criteria, such as water and sand quality, facilities available, and trash maintenance are used to evaluate the locations.
See what beaches made this year's list — once again, there's a local favorite in the mix. Next
1. Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.
"The big, wide sandy beach made of quartz has towering sand dunes and beautiful clean and clear blue water," Leatherman said. "The best way to get around this beach is on bicycle in order to avoid parking and to take in the beautiful vista." Next
2. Kahanamoku Beach, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
"This beach was named in the honor of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku who was a gold medal Olympic swimmer and credited with introducing surfing to the outside world," Leatherman said. "A shallow offshore reef protects this beach from the big waves, making it a great swimming area for families with children." Next
3. St. George Island State Park, Florida panhandle
"The Florida panhandle beaches are back as oil from the BP spill has vanished," Leatherman said, "and the sand is squeaky clean (just rub your feet on the sand and hear them squeak). The brilliant white sands and clear waters of St. George Island were fortunately not even impacted last summer. Stingrays are sometimes resting in the shallow waters so shuffle your feet when entering. Birding and fishing are very popular activities here." Next
4. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
"The beach is actually inside a breached volcanic crater," said Leatherman. "To get to Hamoa Beach, one has to take the “Road to Hana”, the treacherous road with drop-offs of over 1,000 feet and sporadic guardrails, which can be an adventure in itself! Taking it slow on this road, with over 50 one-way bridges, is probably the safest bet. Ernest Hemmingway once said that Hamoa Beach was the world’s best beach." Next
5. Waimanalo Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
"This park has ample parking, restrooms, outdoor showers, and a good beach for swimming," Leatherman said. "While not as stunning as some other Hawaiian beaches, it is a safe beach because big waves and dangerous currents are rare and lifeguards are present. Hawaiians who live on Oahu frequent this beach." Next
6. Barefoot Beach, Bonita Spring, Fla.
Barefoot Beach is a newcomer to this year's list. The beach is 342 acres of natural land, one of Florida's largest undeveloped barrier islands. Next
7. Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Fla.
"This fine, white coral sand beach is great for swimming, as waves are knocked down by a large sand shoal offshore," said Leatherman. "In addition, the Cape Florida Lighthouse allows for a breath-taking view of this beautiful beach." Next
8. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks of North Carolina
"Providing some of the best board surfing along the East Coast, as well as the most famous lighthouse in the United States, Cape Hatteras attracts beachgoers to its historic fishing villages," said Leatherman. "Nature lovers adore the excellent beachcombing and superb fishing. Hurricane Irene in 2011 cut a few inlets through Hatteras Island so travel down to the Cape will be slowed." Next
9. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod National Seashore
"Coast Guard Beach, accessible by bicycle or via shuttle bus from the Salt Pond Visitor’s Center, was formed where a sand spit attached to the glacial cliffs," Leatherman said. "The sand is fairly coarse, so the beach slopes steeply into the water. The picturesque old Coast Guard station still sits atop the glacial bluffs, allowing for a spectacular view down upon the Nauset Spit barrier system and bay. During the summer, beach-goers take quick, refreshing dips in the ocean as water temperatures only reach 60-70 degrees." Next
10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.
"This is certainly a nature-lovers coast, so visitors should pack their canoes and kayaks to paddle through the tidal inlets or walk down to St. Sam’s Inlet to see thousands of birds," Leatherman said. "The water is not clear here, but it is clean and provides for fantastic seafood for low-country cooking." Back to the beginning
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