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 - "The west side of Maui always has beach weather. It's one of the sunniest places in the world, so it's hard to beat that. What you call winter there everybody else calls a nice day. They have lifeguards there all the time, but if you're not a big-time swimmer and a big-time surfer, stay close to shore when the big waves are coming in."
In the official press release outlining his choice, Leatherman continues, "The western shore of Maui is known for its idyllic, year-round beach weather, and Fleming's mile-long crescent, white sand beach offers a range of activities and stunning views of nearby Molokai Island. A favorite area for sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers alike, the beach is backed by a virtual forest of trees on the low sea cliff, providing welcome shade. Amenities include showers, restrooms, grills, bar/snackbar and picnic facilities overlooking the beach plus tablecloth dining on the south end of the park, which is the unofficial beach of the nearby Ritz Carlton."
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
- 2004 Hanauma Bay, Oahu, 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 three Hawaii beaches made the top ten list. Here are Dr. Beach's choices for the best beaches of 2006.
- D.T. Fleming Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii
- Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin, Florida
- Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina
- Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
- Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
- Main Beach, East Hampton, New York
- Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
- Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
- Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
- Barefoot Beach Park, Bonita Springs, Florida
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.