Two of Hawaii's beaches have made coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman's 21st annual top 10 list of Best Beaches in America. The list is traditionally released over the Memorial Day weekend.
Dr. Leatherman is Director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research and is better known by his nickname "Dr. Beach." His website, drbeach.org is an excellent source for information about the beaches of the USA.
Dr. Beach's choice as the 2011 Best Beach in America is Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida. As Dr. Leatherman explains "With some of the finest, whitest sand in the world, this beach attracts sand collectors from all over. Siesta Beach has clear, warm waters that serve for ideal swimming. The beach is hundreds of yards wide in the shape of a crescent, due to anchoring of onshore rocks to the north and a unique underwater formation of coral rock and caves, providing for great snorkeling and scuba diving. This beach is great for volleyball and other types of recreational fitness."
Criteria and Past Winners
In preparing his annual list, fifty criteria are used to evaluate beaches, which include water and sand quality as well as safety and environmental management. Once a beach is selected as America's Best Beach it is retired and removed from future competition. Since its inception in 1991, twelve Hawaii beaches have been honored as America's Best Beach:
- 2009 Hanalei Bay, Kauai
- 2006 Fleming Beach Park, Maui
- 2004 Hanauma Bay, Oahu
- 2003 Kaanapali Beach, Maui
- 2001 Poipu Beach, Kauai
- 2000 Kaunaoa Beach, Big Island of Hawaii
- 1999 Wailea Beach, Maui
- 1998 Kailua Beach Park, Oahu
- 1997 Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i
- 1996 Lanikai Beach, Oahu
- 1993 Hapuna Beach, Big Island of Hawaii
- 1991 Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui
Hawaii Beaches on the 2011 List
Two Hawaii beaches have made Dr. Beach's 2011 list - Kahanamoku Beach, Waikiki and Waimanalo Bay State Park, Oahu. With so many Hawaii beaches already named as past winners, it's amazing that so many Hawaii beaches continue to appear on the list each year.
Coming in at number three on the 2011 list was Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Oahu. As Dr. Leatherman explains "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. Kahanamoku Beach is bounded by the Ala Wai small boat harbor and the Hilton Hawaiian Village catamaran pier. A shallow offshore reef protects this beach from the big waves, making it a great swimming area for families with children."
Coming in at number three on the 2011 list was Waimanalo Bay State Park, Oahu. As Dr. Leatherman explains "This park has ample parking, restrooms, outdoor showers, and a good beach for swimming. 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."