This Is America's Best Beach

St. George Island State Park in Florida is No. 1 in new 'Dr. Beach' ranking
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2023 11:51 AM CDT
Updated May 21, 2023 4:10 PM CDT
This Is America's Best Beach
A lone beachcomber at St. George Island State Park near Apalachicola in the Florida Panhandle.   (AP Photo/William Kronholm, File)

The coastal scientist known as Dr. Beach is out with his annual list of America's best beaches ahead of Memorial Day, and one on the Florida Panhandle takes top honors. This particular ranking gets more attention than most because Stephen Leatherman of Florida International University has been putting it out for 33 years. Leatherman bases his ranking on 50 criteria, including everything from sand and waves to crowding and wildlife. This year's top 10, per the AP:

  1. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
  2. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
  3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
  4. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
  5. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina
  6. Coronado Beach, San Diego
  7. Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii
  8. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  9. Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
  10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

The St. George Island park often shows up high in the rankings, but why the No. 1 designation this year? It offers "miles and miles of unspoiled beaches," for one thing, says Leathemarn. "It's an idyllic space." Another bonus: He saw not a single cigarette butt on his inspection. "I had to give them more credit for that," Leatherman said. "I think people are coming around to the point of view that our beaches are some of our greatest recreational areas." (More beaches stories.)

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