Three Florida beaches are named among the best 10 in America as ranked by the renowned “Dr. Beach,” Dr. Stephen Leatherman.
Confirmed to the 2013 Top 10 are St. George Island State Park and Cape Florida State Park, which rose to No. 3 and No. 7 from their positions in 2012.
The new list also includes Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs, on Florida’s southwest coast, which surged into the Top 10 for the first time, at No. 6.
Leatherman praised the Florida beaches for their squeaky clean, super white sands, gentle surf and emerald-colored waters.
VISIT FLORIDA’s Chief Marketing Officer Paul Phipps said Florida’s consistently high rankings lend scientific validation to visitor word-of-mouth that led 91.4 million visitors to the Sunshine State last year.
"Naturally, it's extremely valuable exposure that connects us with beach-lovers around the world. Whenever they see Florida in prestigious rankings such as this, they visit, and when they visit, they come back again and again,” Phipps said.
Tourism officials in Bonita Springs have always felt Barefoot Beach was worthy of the Top 10 but were thrilled to see it jump right to No. 6.
“We knew our beach and our sunsets were spectacular, but this Top 10 ranking proves that Barefoot Beach is indeed exceptional,” said Christine Ross, president and CEO of the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. Ross speculated that recent updates in beach facilities helped Barefoot Beach land in the middle of the rankings, rather than debuting at No. 10.
Dr. Beach’s “Top 10” beaches for 2013:
1. Main Beach, East Hampton, New York
2. Kahanamoku Beach, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
3. St. George Island State Park, Franklin County, northwest Florida
4. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
5. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii
6. Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park, Bonita Springs, southwest Florida
7. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, southeast Florida
8. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, North Carolina
9. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Florida has won seven times
For 23 years, America’s beach towns have coveted the title of “America’s Best Beach,” bestowed annually by Dr. Beach. Florida beaches have won the top honor seven times.
Since the inception of the lists in 1991, the beaches of Florida and the Hawaiian Islands have dominated the No. 1 rankings, a list of 23 outstanding beauties that Leatherman determined to be tops in terms of sand quality, water quality, and a long list of other measures.
Beach lovers would be wise to start at the beginning and visit each beach in the Dr. Beach hall of fame, though one can’t go wrong visiting any of Florida’s 825 miles of beaches.
Here are the Florida beaches named best in America by Dr. Beach over the years.
· Bahia Honda State Recreation Area (1992, second year of the list), now a state park, in the Florida Keys.
· Grayton Beach State Recreation Area (1994), now a state park, in Walton County
· St. Andrew's State Recreation Area (1995), now a state park, in Bay County, Panama City Beach
· St. Joseph Peninsula State Park (2002) in Gulf County, near Port St. Joe
· Fort De Soto Park, North Beach (2005) in Pinellas County, near St. Pete
· Caladesi Island State Park (2008) in Pinellas County, St. Pete/Clearwater
· Siesta Key Beach (2011), near Sarasota.
-- Laura Cassels