"Dr. Beach," Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, is the nations foremost beach expert and a professor at Florida International University in Miami. In a Reuters interview, Leatherman stated, "St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is one of the famed Florida panhandle beaches with sugar-fine white sand bathed in beautiful emerald waters."
Prior to this year's selection a beach in Hawaii topped Leatherman's list for six consecutive years and eight of the previous eleven.
This in itself has been no small feat for Hawaii in that once a beach wins the top spot in the annual ranking it is "retired" and not eligible to win again. Previous Hawaii beaches which have been named America's Best Beach and which are excluded from this year's survey are:
Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii
1993 Hapuna, Big Island, Hawaii
1996 Lanikai Beach, O`ahu, Hawaii
1997 Hulopoe, Lana`i, Hawaii
1998 Kailua Beach Park, O`ahu, Hawaii
1999 Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii
2000 Mauna Kea Beach, Big Island, Hawaii
2002 Poipu Beach, Kaua`i, Hawaii
Using a Beach Rating Scale consisting of 50 criteria, Leatherman's annual picks have become recognized as the definitive word on America's best beaches.
All in all this year four Hawaii beaches made the top ten list. In reverse order those beaches are:
10. Haunama Bay
Located on O`ahu about 30 minutes from Waikiki by either bus or car, Haunama Bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. It is a favorite for those who wish to SCUBA dive or snorkel because of it's wide variety of fish and beautiful coral reef. It offers excellent swimming, especially for children.
7. Hamoa Beach
Located in North Maui about 2.5 miles past Hana, surrounded by property owned by the Hotel Hana Maui, Hamoa Beach is about 1,000 feet long and about 100 feet wide with sea cliffs surrounding it. When the surf is up this beach is subject to very high waves.
Located at Kaua`is North Shore, the bay is not safe for swimming, due to the rough waters and severe rip currents, but it is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches on a beautiful bay. This does not keep the surfers away who come to Hanalei to experience the long-lasting waves. The beach is ideal for walking and watching the sunset.
Located in West Maui about 2 miles south of the historic whaling town of Lahaina, Ka`anapali is one of Hawaii's most famous and populated beaches surrounded by numerous elegant resort hotels and condominiums. The beach itself is almost three miles long. The beach is lifeguard protected, but it is important to watch your belongings and don't leave them unattended while you swim. Ka`anapali is the beach for activities. You can snorkel in the crystal clear water, windsurf, jet-ski, parasail, or kayak.
Congratulations to all of these great beaches in Hawaii and to the folks who keep them as wonderful as they are, including the eco-conscious tourist who honors and protects the natural beauty of Hawaii.
America's Best Beaches
by Stephen P. Leatherman
"Dr. Beach's" 112 page companion book details all of his choices for the best beaches in America indexed by region of the country.