A woman dips her toes in the sand of Hanalei Bay, the top beach on Dr. Beach’s annual list.
With Memorial Day behind us (I do believe the smell of barbecue is still lingering in my nostrils) it’s officially the start of beach season in the U.S., and the perfect time to check out the annual list of top ten beaches tallied by Dr. Beach (aka Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research).
Dr. Beach judges the beaches using 50 criteria, including water and sand quality, safety, facility availability and environmental management. And ranking number one this year was Hawaii’s Hanalei Bay, on the island of Kauai. The two-mile crescent of white-sand beach is lined with palm trees and waterfalls, and has stayed off big developers, much to the relief of tourists and locals alike. Located on the island’s North Shore, it’s secluded, surrounded by 4,000-foot peaks, and the bay allows for safe swimming during the summer months. I visited the beach while in Kauai two summers ago, and have to agree with Dr. Beach that it’s truly idyllic.
Not that you have to travel as far as Hawaii to find a great patch of sand. This list is well rounded, featuring beaches on both the east and west coasts, including two on Long Island (where I’m from, so I can attest to their charms).
You can check out the full list after the jump, and see a slideshow of each beach at National Geographic News. Want more beach tips? Be sure to check out NG’s Green Guide Summer planner for great ideas on a smart and eco-savvy summer.
TOP 10 BEACHES 2009
1. Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii
2. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida
3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
4. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
5. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
6. Main Beach, East Hampton, New York
7. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks of North Carolina
- Nat Geo Expeditions
8. Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Florida
9. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
How may of these beaches have you visited? What beaches should have made the list?
Photograph by Charles Kogod/National Geographic Image Collection