If you’re off to the US and looking for the best beaches, then here’s the definitive list. Sarasota’s pure-white Siesta Beach has been declared the top one in America for 2011.
Siesta Key is a barrier island off the central western coast of Florida, located between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida International University professor and passionate environmentalist Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr Beach, has compiled a top 10 list for 21 years.
He visits the beaches incognito, as it were, and takes sand and water samples to test them for purity. Siesta Beach is 40 acres of dazzling quartz crystal sand. Leatherman ranks beaches on 50 tests, including water quality, the look and feel of the sand, facilities, weather and numbers of people who go there. A top score is 250. Siesta Beach lost a few points because the views north and south are dense with towering condominiums and hotels. A No. 1 spot on the popular list usually boosts visitors by a 15-to-20-per cent.
Siesta Beach scored tops for its shallow water and gentle tides. San Diego’s Coronado Beach was the bridesmaid. Rounding out the top 10 were No. 3, Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii; No. 4, Main Beach, East Hampton, New York; No. 5, Cape Hatteras in North Carolina; No. 6, St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle; No. 7, Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina; No. 8, Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts; No. 9, Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii, and No. 10, Cape Florida State Park near Miami.
Leatherman is also known for his project called the National Healthy Beaches Campaign. Campaign member beaches pay $US800 a year to be evaluated monthly on self-reported criteria and get advice on maintaining environmental quality. Beaches don’t pay to be evaluated for the top 10 best beaches list. Siesta Beach escaped damage from last year’s massive BP oil spill in the gulf where cleaning up hasn’t finished.
In a statement on his website, Dr Beach says: “With some of the finest, whitest sand in the world, this beach attracts sand collectors from all over. Siesta Beach has clear, warm waters that serve for ideal swimming. The beach is hundreds of yards wide in the shape of a crescent, due to anchoring of onshore rocks to the north and a unique underwater formation of coral rock and caves, providing for great snorkeling and scuba diving. This beach is great for volleyball and other types of recreational fitness.”
CHECK LIST FOR THE BEST US BEACHES:
More info on Dr Beach’s project: www.drbeach.org/