Dr. Beach Names Best Beaches of 2016; Florida Tops the List

    By Lauren Tjaden

    The Dr. Beach best beaches list is out! And it's all good if you're headed to the Sunshine State.

    Every year, visitors await Dr. Steve Leatherman’s annual Top 10 Beaches list, eager to discover the beaches with the softest sands and clearest waters.

    After all, Leatherman, better known as Dr. Beach, is renowned as America’s foremost beach expert. For more than 25 years he’s evaluated and ranked beaches all over the globe, using 50 criteria that include the color of the sand, the clarity of the water, the slope of the shore and much more.

    And Dr. Beach loves Florida beaches, always including them and sometimes naming them as the best in the nation.

    Once again Florida beaches dominated Dr. Beach's best beaches list, snagging three of the coveted spots on the list.

    #2: Siesta Key Beach

    dr beach best beaches

    The waters of Siesta Key are incredibly clear and calm.

    - Lauren Tjaden


    Dr. Beach declared this beautiful shoreline the best beach in the United States in 2011. Previously, if a beach got the #1 ranking, it was retired for future consideration. But starting this year, he's giving extra credit for beaches that prohibit smoking. And now the list of Dr. Beach's best beaches begins anew so that all beaches have a shot at making his annual list.

    Clearly, he hasn't forgotten his old favorite. And who could blame him?
     

    dr. beach best beaches

    Siesta Key boasts some of the softest, whitest sand on the planet.

    - Lauren Tjaden


    That’s because Siesta Key boasts everything that makes a beach desirable. It’s thick with soft, white sand that practically begs you to take off your shoes. The glass-clear water tends to be calm, making it safe for swimmers of all ages. It has concessions, changing rooms, showers and rentals. And the village of Siesta is the perfect place to recharge your batteries. It’s brimming with mom-and-pop stores and eateries, with a trolley that services the area.
     

    dr-beach-credit-lauren-tjaden5

    - Lauren Tjaden


    You’ll find Siesta Key snuggled against the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota.

    #6: Grayton Beach State Park

    Grayton Beach State Park, Santa Rosa Beach

    Grayton Beach State Park, Santa Rosa Beach

    - Lauren Tjaden


    Stunning and pristine, this nearly 2,000-acre park encompasses a sugar-sand beach that’s ideal for swimming, sunbathing and surf fishing.  The water is a dreamy shade of turquoise, bordered by a generous sweep of sand.
     

    You can hike on these trails that wind through the dunes at Grayton Beach State Park.

    You can hike on these trails that wind through the dunes at Grayton Beach State Park.

    - Lauren Tjaden, VISIT FLORIDA Adventure and Beach Insider


    Located in northwest Florida and one of the best beaches in South Walton, the Park also boasts a boat ramp, a rare dune lake, canoeing, and hiking and biking trails. Options for overnight stays include modern cabins and a full-facility campground.

    #9 Caladesi Island State Park

    CALADESI ISLAND and HONEYMOON ISLAND: One last view of Caladesi, left, and its beautiful neighbor.

    CALADESI ISLAND and HONEYMOON ISLAND: One last view of Caladesi, left, and its beautiful neighbor.

    - Courtesy St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau


    Accessible only by boat or ferry, Caladesi´s beach provides an escape into a quiet, untouched world. Situated on one of the few completely natural islands along Florida´s Gulf Coast by Dunedin/Clearwater, the beach features emerald waters and brilliant white sand. Picnic tables and shelters are located near the beach, and you can reserve a picnic pavilion for a fee. Besides swimming, sunbathing and beachcombing, the Park offers fishing, a three-mile nature trail, and a kayaking trail. Its marina offers electric and water hookups, plus a snack bar. Ferry service is provided by the Caladesi Island Ferry (727) 734-1501 and departs from Honeymoon Island State Park.

    Read about all of Dr. Beach's best beaches in 2016 here.

    Florida boasts plenty more gorgeous beaches. Check out these Florida Beaches that have won Dr. Beach’s top honors in the nation in past years.

    Dr. Beach's Best Beaches in Florida

    • 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

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