Every year for the past 33 years, during the Memorial weekend that marks the start of summer in the United States, Stephen P., professor and director of the Coastal Research Laboratory at Florida International University in Miami, Leatherman Dr. Beach publishes a list of the nation’s ten most beautiful public beaches. It has now become a tradition for all travelers to look forward to discovering new places. This year, Florida won the prize because Julian G. Bruce St. in the Panhandle. George Island State Park beach tops the list.
A virgin beach
But how does this beach on the Gulf of Mexico, an hour and a half south of Tallahassee, stand out from the rest?
“First, it’s far from urban areas, and because of the abundance of fauna and flora, it’s a favorite spot for swimmers, fishermen and bird-lovers. I like to bathe in its crystal-clear waters, walk on the beach and scour the fine sand for shells.
“The island was badly affected following the passage of the cyclone Michael In 2018, but the area has recovered significantly, especially its beach, where the sand is so white and fine that it looks like sugar. This 1,962-acre state park really has a lot to offer,” Dr. Beach, who holds a PhD in coastal environmental science from the University of Virginia, explained in his press release.
Photo courtesy of Stephen B. Leatherman
For over thirty years, Stephen B. Leatherman (Dr. Beach) has reviewed, assessed and evaluated beaches and coastal areas around the world. With an annual ranking of America’s Best Beaches, he works tirelessly to raise awareness of the dangers of rip currents and ban smoking on beaches.
So the park’s 14 km of beaches are the least explored in the United States. There are many activities such as canoeing and hiking. On the other hand, the island’s isolation makes it a favorite spot to view the starry sky and admire the breathtaking sunsets. But the most amazing thing about this great beach is the exceptional whiteness of its sand. During our visit, we had the impression of walking for miles on white sand as soft to the touch as cotton wool. This is definitely a place to add to your wishlist.
A campsite near the beach
Another attraction of this state park is its camping. Outdoor enthusiasts will be delighted as the park has several campgrounds located about ten minutes from the beach, a rarity in Florida. If this lifestyle isn’t your cup of tea, you can stay in hotels or rent particularly beautiful vacation homes in the small village of St. George Island, 4 miles from the state park.
Caladesi Island State Park
Another top 10 recommendation to consider when traveling to Florida is the beach at Caladesi Island State Park in the Dunedin/Clearwater area. To get there, you have to take a pedestrian ferry or a private boat or take a long walk from Clearwater Beach. Dr. Beach was attracted to this place for several reasons: the white sand made of quartz is especially soft and smooth, especially at the water’s edge. Swimming in this crystal clear water is a real pleasure, according to him. Finally, he loves this place for its wooden footbridges on which you can stroll to admire the landscape. But his favorite thing to do is paddle a kayak or canoe through the mangroves, spotting the great blue heron and other birds that frequent these scenic spots.
While you’re staying at Caladesi Island State Park, take the opportunity to explore the neighboring island of Honeymoon Island. In 1921, the islands were split in two following a hurricane. Although a bit busier, it’s another peaceful oasis with miles of snow-white sand and a landscaped pine forest with hiking trails. On foot or by bicycle. It is from Honeymoon Island that we take a ferry to Caladesi Island.
To establish a list of America’s ten most beautiful public beaches, Stephen B. Leatherman based it on fifty criteria, including the color of the water and its temperature, the color of the sand and its smoothness, and the frequency of rainfall. Number of days of sunshine, presence of rip currents, or Current tearing, in English, which takes you to the sea, the steepness of the underwater slope, the fauna and flora, the conservation record, the presence of algae, traffic and, of course, garbage and cigarette butts. Beaches get bonus points for their no-smoking ban. Also, in Florida, a law allows local authorities to ban smoking on beaches. For example, smoking is prohibited at Clearwater Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach, and Miami Beach and all beaches in the Keys.
Photo from the Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Facebook page
While you’re staying at Caladesi Island State Park, take the opportunity to explore the neighboring island of Honeymoon Island.
Last year, Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina, won the title of America’s Most Beautiful Beach, followed by Kaladesi Island in second place and St. George Island State Park in fourth place. In total, there are about 650 public beaches in the United States, and over the years, each of these beaches has been rated according to these 50 criteria.
Her favorite beaches are on the Atlantic coast
This year, no beaches along the Atlantic coast made the list, but Stephen B. We asked Leatherman about his favorite beaches on the east side of Florida. Here is what he replied to us:
- Lake Worth Beach
- Ocean Reef Park – Avoid rocks near water
- Juneau Beach Park
- Jupiter Beach Park
- Pompano Beach
- Cape Florida State Park
Stephen B. Leatherman is America’s leading beach expert. He is the author of the book America’s Best Beaches Published in 1999. He is also an international authority on the effects of hurricanes, coastal erosion, sea level rise and currents. In short, a very well-documented necessity.
Top 10 Best Beaches in America:
Here, in order, are the beaches that stand out this year, according to Dr. Beach.
1. St. Georges Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
2. Duke Kahananoku Beach Oahu, Hawaii
3. Cooper’s Beach, Southampton, New York
4. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
5. Buxton Outer Banks, Lighthouse Beach, North Carolina
6. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
7. Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii
8. Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina
9. Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
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