The sand on Siesta Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast — fine as powdered sugar, a pure, sparkling white and soft as a kitten’s fur comprised of 99 percent pure crushed quartz — beat out Kapalua Bay Beach on Maui as the best beach in America.
“The sand (at Siesta Beach) is outstanding,” said Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, a professor at Miami’s Florida International University who’s made a career ranking and studying beaches around the United States. “Every time I go there, I’ve got to take a bag home with me. It’s almost sacrilegious to walk on it with shoes on.”
Kapalua Bay Beach came in at No. 2 on the list, while Hapuna Beach State Park on Hawaii island came in at No. 8.
The 10, in order of ranking, are Siesta Beach, Fla.; Kapalua Bay Beach; Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina; Grayton Beach State Park on the Florida Panhandle; Coopers Beach in Southampton, N.Y.; Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod, Mass.; Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin/Clearwater, Fla.; Hapuna Beach; Coronado Beach in San Diego; and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, S.C.
He’s rated beaches since 1991, and Hawaii beaches are usually represented on the list.
At No. 2, Kapalua Bay Beach — smaller than Siesta Beach — is crescent-shaped and flanked by palm trees. Unlike lots of Hawaii beaches, there aren’t many waves at Kapalua, he said, making it perfect for safe swimming.
“The coral reefs almost go right to the beach. There are tropical fish swimming all around.”
Leatherman, who is director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, uses about 50 criteria to assess and rank beaches across the country.