Stephen Leatherman has made a career ranking and studying beaches around the U.S. For that reason the Florida International University profession is best known as “Dr. Beach.”
This year Dr. Beach ranked Florida’s very own Siesta Beach as the top beach for 2017.
“The sand is outstanding,” said Leatherman to the Associated Press. “Every time I go there, I’ve got to take a bag home with me. It’s almost sacrilegious to walk on it with shoes on.”
The beach is located on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico just southwest of downtown Sarasota. Leatherman told the Associated Press that other favorable assets of the beach as the shallow and safe waters with no sharp drop-offs and waves can be measured “in inches.”
While Siesta Beach has it’s own natural beauty it also has a trolley service to and from the downtown area and numerous lifeguards on duty. But the beach is also plenty of room, which includes tables and barbecue stations for guests to enjoy.
“I look for kind of a balance between nature and a developed environment,” said Leatherman to the AP. “Fourteen million people go to Miami Beach every year. There’s just too many people there. I think a lot of people are looking for more of a getaway.”
Leatherman’s top 10 beaches for 2017 are:
1. Siesta Beach, Siesta Key, Florida
2. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii
3. Ocracoke Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina
4. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida Panhandle
5. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
7. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Leatherman used about 50 criteria to rank this list of beaches across the country. He said he recently has started giving extra points to beaches that prohibit smoking. Leatherman says cigarette butts not only damage the environment but can be disturbing for beach-goers. Safety and environmental management are two major factors in his list.
Dr. Beach has rated beaches since 1991.