Let me start by saying Dr. Steve Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, didn’t get it entirely right this year in his list of top ten beaches.
It is certainly right that the Sunshine State dominated, with four beaches on the list.
And, the details that the renowned beach expert noted, such as the powdery, super white sands of St. George Island and the family-friendly nature of Barefoot Beach, are also correct.
But it’s as obvious as fins on a fish that Barefoot Beach in North Naples should be ranked as the best beach in the country—not number two.
I figure Dr. Beach just doesn’t want to make all the other states too envious of Florida!
Check out these Florida beaches that made the 2014 top ten list:
- Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park, in North Naples, claimed the number two spot in the nation. The good doctor loved this 342-acre park’s shallow water and gentle surf, commenting how they make its beach ideal for bathing and swimming.
- St. George Island State Park, nestled on Florida’s Forgotten Coast in the northwest region of the state, snagged the number three position. Dr. Beach commented on its squeaky clean sand, its generous beaches, and its birding and fishing.
- Cape Florida State Park, snuggled at the southern tip of Key Biscayne, splashed into the number seven spot with its clear, emerald-colored waters, gentle surf, and fine, white coral sand beach. That it’s home to the Cape Florida Lighthouse only adds to its appeal.
- Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, located in Naples in the southwestern corner of Florida, boasts a 166-acre beach park characterized by sea oats, sand dunes, and fine white sand sprinkled with seashells. Leatherman named it tenth on the list, noting its observation tower and amenities that include bathrooms, changing stalls, and outside rinse showers.
And there are plenty more beautiful beaches in Florida. Check out these Florida Beaches that have won Dr. Beach’s top honors in the nation in past 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, St. Petersburg/Clearwater.
- Caladesi Island State Park (2008) in Pinellas County, St. Petersburg/Clearwater.
- Siesta Key Beach (2011), near Sarasota
Check out all of Dr. Beach's picks and comments here.
And here's a video that explains Dr. Beach's criteria for rating beaches.