America’s 10 Best Beaches in 2023, According to Dr. beach

Now that summer is here, everyone is looking for the best beaches in the United States. The person who has the answers: Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman aka Dr. Beach.

Every year, Leatherman ranks the best beaches in the USA along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts. It uses 50 criteria scored on a five-point scale, including sand softness, number of sunny days, cleanliness, and more.

A geoscientist and coastal ecologist, Leatherman earned his nickname when he was a professor at the University of Maryland teaching a course on waves and beaches. Students of his nicknamed him “Dr. Beach.”

This year, St.

What Leatherman loves about St. George Island State Park: “It has the whitest, finest sand in the world, made of crystal – there’s nothing like it,” says Leatherman. “In the bright sun, it’s so blinding you have to wear your sunglasses.”

The winning beach is fringed with clean, clear emerald green water and is on St. George, which stretches 20 miles along the Florida coast at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. “It’s known for oysters and other seafood,” says Leatherman.

The City of St. George has seafood restaurants and family motels, unless you prefer to camp in the park itself. There is also a beautiful lighthouse. “It offers a great view of the entire area – a panorama of the state park and 14 kilometers of pristine beach,” says Leatherman.

The 2023 list had many of the same beaches that appeared in 2022 and 2021, but in different positions. There was also an exciting newcomer for 2023: Poipu Beach on Kauai, Garden Island. The unique thing about Poipu: It’s a double beach separated by a tombolo, an isthmus created by sand that has grown to meet a coastal island. “It protects you from the waves, so you have very shallow water, a sandy beach and no waves – perfect for kids,” says Leatherman.

From Florida to Hawaii, here are the top 10 beaches in Dr. Beach for 2023.

1. St. George Island State Park – Florida Panhandle

Why It’s on the List: “This long barrier island, far from urban areas, is a favorite destination for beachgoers, fishermen and birdwatchers, as nature abounds,” says Leatherman, who loves the sugary white sand.

A tip: In addition to swimming in the crystal clear water, Leatherman recommends going to the beach and fishing.

2. Duke Kahanamoku Beach – Oahu, Hawaii

Why it’s on the list: “Kahanamoku Beach is located on the west end of Waikiki Beach, away from the big crowds elsewhere,” says Leatherman. “It is the widest beach on this world-famous stretch of sand.”

One tip: Check out Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, which is protected by a coral reef off the coast—“ideal for families with kids,” says Leatherman.

3. Coopers Beach – Southampton, New York

Why it’s on the list: On New York’s south shore of Long Island is America’s first “Gold Coast,” lined with mansions and sheltered from the cold Labrador currents. “Coopers Beach is hundreds of feet wide, made of white quartz granulated sand,” says Leatherman.

A tip: “Some of the best beach access in the Hamptons is at Coopers Beach; a snack bar serving lunch and drinks can also be found here,” says Leatherman.

4. Caladesi Island State Park – Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida

Why it’s on the list: On an ancient island, Caladesi is accessed via a pedestrian ferry or a long walk from Clearwater Beach. “The white beach is composed of crystalline quartz sand, which is soft and fluffy at the water’s edge, inviting you to take a dip in the crystal clear waters,” says Leatherman.

A tip: Leatherman recommends taking a kayak or canoe trip through the mangroves to spot great blue herons.

5. Lighthouse Beach – Buxton, North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Why it’s on the list: “This lifesaving beach is the number one surfing spot on the US Atlantic coast, as the large offshore sandbars known as Diamond Shoals cause wave refraction by concentrating wave energy on this beach” , says Leatherman.

A tip: walk to Cape Point, where you’ll often find a long, narrow strip of sand with waves coming from both directions. Walking along it will make you “feel like Moses,” says Leatherman.

6. Coronado Beach – San Diego, California

Why it’s on the list: “Coronado Beach is the toast of Southern California; it’s a veritable oceanfront oasis hundreds of meters wide,” says Leatherman.

A tip: the beach is great for surfing, watching ships and hanging out at the iconic Hotel del Coronado, built over a hundred years ago.

7. Wailea Beach – Maui, Hawaii

Why It’s on the List: “Wailea Beach is a series of five small beaches, which are part of the Wailea resort complex, which are mandated to provide a public right of way for visitors,” says Leatherman.

A tip: Check out the diving here when the sea is calm.

8. Beachwalker Park – Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Why it makes the list: “This is a coast for nature lovers, so visitors can bring their canoes and kayaks to paddle the coves,” says Leatherman.

A tip: “It’s fun to walk or bike along the fine sandy beach to Captain Sam’s Inlet to see thousands of birds,” says Leatherman.

9. Poipu Beach – Kauai, Hawaii

Why It’s on the List: “Located on the sunny, dry side of this island is Poipu Beach, which is really two beaches in one,” says Leatherman. “A tombolo, which is a narrow tongue of sand that extends from the coast to an island, separates the two pocket beaches.”

A tip: “You’ll find a large open area behind the beach, as well as parking, snorkel rentals for exploring the coral reefs, and surfboard rentals,” says Leatherman.

10. Coast Guard Beach – Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Why it’s on the list: In Eastham, Coast Guard Beach is a Cape Cod classic—“located where a spit of sand stretches south from the glacial cliffs,” says Leatherman.

A tip: “Look out for red flags with pictures of sharks on days when these predators are around, and follow the advice of lifeguards,” says Leatherman.


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