Three Hawaii Beaches Make 2012 Best Beaches in America List
Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, has released his annual list of America's Best Beaches for 2012, and once again Hawaii has done quite well with three of the top ten beaches selected.
Leatherman is Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University and is generally considered the country's foremost authority on beaches.
For the past 22 years, he has produced this widely anticipated annual list of the best beaches in America. Once a beach receives the top honor it is "retired" from competition. In fact, since the competition began in 1991, twelve Hawaii beaches have been named Best Beach for their respective years:
- 2009 - Hanalei Bay, Kauai
- 2006 - Fleming Beach Park, Maui
- 2004 - Hanauma Bay, Oahu
- 2003 - Ka'anapali, Maui
- 2001 - Po'ipu Beach, Kauai
- 2000 - Kaunaoa Beach, Hawaii Island
- 1999 - Wailea Beach, Maui
- 1998 - Kailua Beach Park, Oahu
- 1997 - Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i
- 1996 - Lanikai Beach, Oahu
- 1993 - Hapuna Beach, Hawaii Island
- 1991 - Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui
2012 Winner - Best Beach in America
Coronado Beach, San Diego, California - Photo Courtesy of the Florida International University Media Relations Office
For 2012, Coronado Beach, San Diego, California has been selected as the number one beach.
As detailed in the release announcing this year's winner, "Coronado Beach in San Diego is a 1.5 mile long, wide sandy beach set against the backdrop of the iconic Hotel del Coronado with its peaked red roof and classic Victorian architecture. The beach is popular for swimmers, surfers, sunbathers and beachcombers.
"The beach is very flat, making it great for skim boarding and walking, and the sand has a silvery sheen because of the presence of mica. Families arrive in the morning, toting umbrellas, beach towels and picnic coolers for an all-day stay. A great team of lifeguards stands watch."
The Hawaii beaches which were included in the 2012 list are:
2 - Kahanamoku Beach Waikiki, Oahu
Kahanamoku Beach - Photo courtesy of Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa
Kahanamoku Beach was named in honor of Hawaii's most decorated waterman, gold medal Olympic swimmer and father of modern-day surfing.
As Dr. Beach explains "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."
Just a few feet from the ocean side of the beach is the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon which underwent a $15 million renovation in 2006-7. The renovated lagoon features a state-of-the-art water circulation system with seven saltwater wells 195-250 feet below the surface of the ocean that draw in about 15,000 gallons of water per minute from the ocean, helping to turn over the lagoon's crystal clear water about five times a day. The lagoon's depth went from about 12 feet to approximately five feet, and more than 33,000 tons of sand replenished the beach and bottom of the lagoon.
An island with a two-tier waterfall, a board walk, park benches and landscaping create a park-like setting. About 60 coconut trees, along with a number of native Hawaiian plants, make the area even more inviting than ever before. A variety of beach equipment is available for rent from the Hilton's Waikiki Beach Activities desk which fronts the lagoon. The lagoon is the perfect place to learn Hawaii's fastest growing watersport - stand up paddle boarding.
5 - Hamoa Beach, Maui
Hamoa Beach - Photo Courtesy of the Hotel Hana Maui (now Travasa Hana)
As Dr. Beach explains, "This pocket beach is rimmed by cliffs, covered by coconut palm trees and beautiful flowering vegetation. This crescent beach, which is a mixture of coral and lava sand, is the most famous of Maui's Hana beaches. The beach is actually inside a breached volcanic crater."
Not many of Maui's two million annual visitors make it to Hamoa Beach, past the town of Hana on the world famous Road to Hana with its 59 one-lane-bridges, 180 degree switchbacks and steep cliff face.
Hamoa Beach is the official beach for the Travasa Hana (formerly known as Hotel Hana Maui) which provided shuttle transportation to and from the beach for its guests who can utilize the hotel's facilities at the beach. Hamoa Beach, like all beaches in Hawaii, is a publc beach, however, parking can be very difficult since it is only available along the road. The 1000 foot long and 100-foot wide beach is located down a 30-foot sea cliff and is accessed by either of two sets of steps.
7 - Waimanalo Bay Beach Park Oahu
Waimanalo Bay Beach Park - Photo Courtesy of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau
Located about nine miles north of Hanauma Bay, past Makapu'u Point and Sea Life Park, you'll arrive at the Windward Oahu community of Waimanalo Beach. Here you'll find my favorite beach on Oahu, Waimanalo Beach, which is actually made up of two separate areas, each with its own parking area.
The first beach that you'll come to is Waimanalo Beach Park, which you can see right from the highway. Just a bit further down the road, look for the signs to Waimanalo Bay State Recreation Area. You'll make a right off the highway and drive through a grove of ironwook trees. The parking lot is clearly visible.
As Dr. Beach 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."