Siesta Key Beach is the number one beach in the 21st annual Top 10 Beach List, produced by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research.
Dr. Leatherman notes, Siesta Beach in Sarasota boasts that it has the finest and whitest sand in the world, and I cannot argue with this claim; the powdery sand is nearly pure quartz crystal. The beautiful blue-colored water is clean and clear, making it so inviting to bathers and swimmers.
Meanwhile, TripAdvisor, a leading travel site has announced the winners of its inaugural 2011 Travelers’ Choice Beaches awards. Top beach spots are named in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Canada, the South Pacific, the Caribbean and Mexico, and Central and South America. (Read: Top 10 Beaches in the World)
As “Dr. Beach” (www.DrBeach.org), Leatherman has selected the annual Top 10 Beaches since 1991. Fifty criteria are used to evaluate beaches, which include water and sand quality as well as safety and environmental management.
A new website (www.Beachfinder.org) has recently been developed to help you find other great American beaches. Here’s the list:
1. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida
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.
2. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
Coronado Beach is the toast of Southern California; it is a veritable oasis by the sea, measuring hundreds of yards wide. With its lush subtropical vegetation, unique Mediterranean climate, and fine sparkling sand, beach-goers flock to this beach for great ship watching and the summer’s mild surf.
3. Kahanamoku Beach, Waikiki, Hawaii
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.
4. Main Beach, East Hampton, New York
Main Beach provides the perfect blend of nature and built environment. Wealthy summertime residents flock here to the beaches protected by a conservation easement, dating back over 300 years. Main Beach is a great place for star-spotting, since many actors and actresses frequently visit this beach for its idyllic setting in a small village. The big, wide sandy beach made of quartz has towering sand dunes and beautiful clean and clear blue water. The best way to get around this beach is on bicycle in order to avoid parking and to take in the beautiful vista.
5. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, North Carolina
Bulging far offshore of the mainland coast as a barrier island, Cape Hatteras was the first National Seashore. Providing some of the best board surfing along the East Coast, as well as the most famous lighthouse in the United States, Cape Hatteras attracts beachgoers to its historic fishing villages. Nature lovers adore the excellent beachcombing and superb fishing.
6. St. George Island State Park, Florida
The Florida panhandle beaches are back as oil from the BP spill has vanished, and the sand is squeaky clean (just rub your feet on the sand and hear them squeak). The brilliant white sands and clear waters of St. George Island were fortunately not even impacted last summer. Stingrays are sometimes resting in the shallow waters so shuffle your feet when entering. Birding and fishing are very popular activities here.
7. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
South of Charleston, Beachwalker Park is the public beach located on the southern end of Kiawah Island. Tennis and golf are featured here, as well as interpretative tours of the fauna and flora of the island. This is certainly a nature-lovers coast, so visitors should pack their canoes and kayaks to paddle through the tidal inlets or walk down to St. Sam’s Inlet to see thousands of birds. The water is not clear here, but it is clean and provides for fantastic seafood for low-country cooking. Visitors can also pack their bicycles, since the sand is compact enough to ride along the 10-mile long barrier island.
8. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Coast Guard Beach, accessible by bicycle or via shuttle bus from the Salt Pond Visitor’s Center, was formed where a sand spit attached to the eroding glacial cliffs. The sand is fairly coarse, so the beach slopes steeply into the water. The picturesque old Coast Guard station still sits atop the glacial bluffs, allowing for a spectacular view down upon the Nauset Spit barrier system and bay. During the summer, beach-goers take quick, refreshing dips in the ocean, as water temperatures only reach 60-70 degrees.
9. Waimanalo Bay State Park, Oahu, Hawaii
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.
10. Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Florida
Cape Florida State Park, located at the south tip of Key Biscayne, provides clear, emerald-colored waters and gentle surf. This fine, white coral sand beach is great for swimming, as waves are knocked down by a large sand shoal offshore. In addition, the Cape Florida Lighthouse allows for a breath-taking view of this beautiful beach.
The list was released Friday, May 27, by Sarasota Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.