When Dr. Stephen Leatherman releases his annual list of America’s best beaches, travel enthusiasts listen. For the past 28 years, this coastal research professor at Florida International University has become so famous for his beach picks that he’s earned the nickname “Dr. Beach.”
What makes Dr. Leatherman’s list so special? Well, probably it’s the rigorous criteria he puts each beach he visits through. In total, Leatherman has 50 different points he uses to grade every beach and measure their scores against each other. Just a few of the features Leatherman looks into include the beach’s public safety standards, noise pollution, natural vegetation, and litter.
In Dr. Leatherman’s 2018 list, the top prize goes to Hawaii’s Kapalua Bay Beach. Located on the island of Maui, Kapalua Bay Beach’s main positive is its large headlands that were molded out of volcanic magma centuries ago. These headlands protect the pristine waters and provide guests with superb intimacy. A few other pros in Kapalua Bay Beach’s favor include the easy access to snorkeling gear, diversity of fish in the waters, and the excellent selection of restaurants.
The only major feature Dr. Leatherman had problems with was that Kapalua’s parking area is too small for his liking. Besides this minor drawback, Leatherman believes American tourists will be hard-pressed to find a more sublime white sand beach this summer.
From number two to number ten, here are the rest of Dr. Leatherman’s picks for the best US beaches of 2018: Ocracoke Lifguarded Beach, NC; Grayton Beach State Park, FL; Coopers Beach, NY; Cape Cod, MA; Lighthouse Beach, NC; Clearwater Beach, FL; Hapuna Beach State Park, HI; Coronado Beach, CA; and Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, SC.