WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — There was no home court advantage when Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, who posts as Dr. Beach, named the top 10 beaches in 2021.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Beach, a professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, has been reviewing contenders by evaluating 50 different aspects, which include water and sand quality as well as safety and management.
This year he named only two Florida beaches to the list.
St. George Island State Park in the Florida Panhandle came in at No. 4.
"This long barrier island, far from urban areas, is a favorite destination for beachgoers, anglers and bird watchers as nature abounds. Besides swimming in the crystal-clear water, I enjoy beachcombing and shelling. While St. George Island suffered a big hit in 2018 by Hurricane Michael, the area has substantially recovered, especially the sugary fine, white sand beach. There is much to explore on this serene 2,023-acre park," Dr. Beach wrote.
Caladesi Island State Park in Clearwater ranked No. 7.
"Caladesi is reached by pedestrian ferry boat, private boats or a long walk north from Clearwater Beach; the inlet is closed so Caladesi is no longer a true island, but still a great getaway. The white beach is composed of crystalline quartz sand which is soft and cushy at the water’s edge, inviting one to take a dip in the sparkling clear waters. There are boardwalk trails, but my favorite is the kayak and canoe trails through the mangroves to see the large blue herons and other birds that frequent this wonderful natural area," commented Dr. Beach.
Ranked at No. 1 was Hapuna Beach State Park in Hawaii.
"This white coral sand beach resides in a landscape dominated by black lava flows. During the summer months, Hapuna is a perfect place to swim, snorkel or scuba dive in the crystal clear and clean waters, but big waves during the winter can generate powerful rip currents. Fortunately, there are well-trained lifeguards at this state park," wrote Dr. Beach.
Dr. Beach's Top 10 Beaches 2021:
1. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
2. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
3. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
4. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
5. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina.
6. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
7. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin Clearwater, Florida
8. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
9. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts