August 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts August 2002 Current Issue
August 2002
Short Cuts:Bathing Beauties

image Trying to pick the country’s best beaches can be quite a challenge, but Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, a.k.a. Dr. Beach (, has been on the job since 1991, visiting and rating the sand and surf around the United States. The good doctor, a professor of environmental studies at Florida International University in Miami, cites the following as this year’s top 10 beaches.

1.St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Port St. Joe, Fla.
2. Hanalei Beach, Hawaii
3. Kaanapali, Hawaii
4. Fort DeSoto Park, Fla.
5. Caladesi Island State Park, Fla.
6. Ocracoke Island, N.C.
7. Hamoa Beach, Hawaii
8. East Hampton Beach, N.Y.
9. Cape Florida SRA, Fla.
10. Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

In making his selection, Leatherman, who also serves as the director of FIU’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, uses a painstaking list of 50 criteria, including color of sand (preferably pink or white), color of water (blue, not gray), scarcity of pests (such as biting flies and mosquitoes), presence of rip currents, overall smell (rotting fish and seaweed being a big negative), size of waves, wind speeds and even the slope of beach when it disappears beneath the water. Each category is charted on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest score.

“It basically comes down to three S’s sun, sea and sand,” says Leatherman, who this year started the Healthy Beaches Campaign to encourage states to clean up their oceanfronts. “Most beaches can’t make the top 10,” he adds. “So as cities around the country work hard at cleaning up their beaches, this is an excellent way to give them the recognition they deserve.”


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