Widely known as "Dr. Beach," Leatherman is the nations foremost beach expert and a professor at Florida International University in Miami.
In an interview for USA Today, Leatherman explained his choice - "Hanauma Bay Beach Park provides the best snorkeling in Hawaii in the safe, calm waters protected by an offshore reef. This is the top place in the country to go swimming with fish. The small, palm-studded beach is situated in the crater of a ocean-breached volcano, making for an idyllic place to spend the day sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving. The white coral sand is accentuated by the azure blue water and underwater coral in the nearshore area."
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:
1991 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
2003 Kaanapali Beach, Maui, 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 two Hawaii beaches made the top ten list. Here are Dr. Beach's choices for the best beaches of 2004 along with links to photos of each beach thanks to Florida International University.
- Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
- Fort De Soto Park, Florida
- Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
- Caladesi Island State Park, Florida
- Main Beach, East Hampton, New York
- Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii
- Crescent Beach, Siesta Key, Florida
- Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
- Cape Florida State Park, Florida
- Coronado Beach, California
Congratulations to all of these great beaches 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 America's beaches.
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.