Last updated: 10:39 AM ET, Fri May 22 2015

Dr. Beach Reveals Best Beaches of 2015

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | May 22, 2015

Dr. Beach Reveals Best Beaches of 2015

"Waimanalo Bay Beach Park" courtesy of All other photos courtesy of their respective beaches/parks unless otherwise stated.

This weekend not only marks the unofficial start of summer, but Dr. Beach has already decided on what the best beaches are in the U.S. for the year 2015. For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Beach has been rating the top beaches around the country for the last 25 years. 

And if you think he doesn’t have the “beach cred” to do so you would be sorely mistaken. Dr. Beach (AKA: Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman) is professor and director of the laboratory for coastal research at Florida International University. He has published 16 books on everything from sea levels rising to the Barrier Islands Handbook, written over 200 journal articles and technical reports, and has testified in front of congress.

The criteria he uses to grade each beach is extensive and includes 50 physical factors rated into five categories. The factors include beach width and materials, weather conditions, water and sand conditions, smell, wildlife, development, noise and safety to just name a few. 

East Beach, Santa Barbara, California came in at number ten with Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Naples, Florida and Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina at eight and seven. Sixth place went to Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, Florida was number six. 

But who has what it takes to be one of the top five beaches in the country? Here are your top five:

5. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks of North Carolina

Although Cape Hatteras is one of the locations with the highest risk of hurricanes, it is one of the most popular vacation points in the Outer Banks. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a protected national park but you can still enjoy kite-boarding, surfing, swimming, windsurfing, crabbing, shell-collecting, nature exploration and more. Make your way up one of the most famous lighthouses on the East Coast, then head up about a mile north to the place where the Wright Brothers made aviation history.

4. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Hamoa is the first of two beaches from Hawaii to make the top five and with good reason. The beach is about 1,000 feet long and about 100 feet wide with amazing vegetation and shade trees surrounding it. As remote as it may seem, there are still modern conveniences with restrooms and showers available as well as nearby access to the Travaasa Resort. There is also a stack of hiking trails that are close by to the beach.

3. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle

Continually given awards by multiple sources as one of the best beaches in the country, St. George is a little less than a two-hour drive from Panama City or Tallahassee. Birding, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, kayaking, picnicking areas, wildlife viewing, and full camping facilities are all available in the park.

2. Barefoot Beach, Bonita Springs, Florida

You want beach? You got it; 8,200 feet of it in a 342 acre preserve. A very mild and shallow beach, this beach is great for those with small children or a general fear of being swept away by a rip current. It has plush surroundings and park rangers to provide info on the Loggerhead Sea Turtles that come ashore each year to lay their eggs. You can also take guided nature walks through the area with highlights of the flora and fauna. 

1. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii

Photo courtesy of

Located on Oahu, about a 45 minute ride from the world famous Waikiki beach, Waimanalo Bay Beach Park is the island’s longest beach with more than five miles available to the public. There are lifeguards, restrooms and showers on site and the weather is almost always perfect thanks to the Trade Winds breezing by. The waves are not too bad, so body/boogie boarding are favorite activities at this beach. The beach is no secret, so be prepared on the weekends for a lot of company. For a more serene scene, head there during the week.

Thanks, again Dr. Beach for giving us the top places to go to the beach. Where did he miss? Where do you like to go and relax at the beach? Let me know in the comments below.

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