May 27, 2011


Dr. Beach says Cape Hatteras is No. 5 for 2011

By IRENE NOLAN




The beach at Cape Hatteras National Seashore has moved down on Dr. Beach’s Top Ten list of America’s best beaches for 2011.

This year Cape Hatteras National Seashore beach ranks No. 5 on the list – down one from last year’s No. 4 spot.  However, the beach, which has been on the Top Ten list for several years, is still up from No. 7 in 2009 and No. 8 in 2007.

Coastal expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman, director of the Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, has chosen America’s Top 10 beaches since 1991.  His rankings are based on 50 criteria, including water and sand quality, as well as facilities and environmental management. More than 650 beaches in the country are included in his judging.

This is what he said about Cape Hatteras, which is the same as the description he used last year:

“Bulging far offshore of the mainland coast as a barrier island, Cape Hatteras was the first National Seashore.  Providing some of the best board surfing along the East Coast, as well as the most famous lighthouse in the United States, Cape Hatteras attracts beachgoers to its historic fishing villages.  Nature lovers adore the excellent beachcombing and superb fishing.”

There was no explanation why the beach was knocked down a notch.

The specific Cape Hatteras beach he has named in the past has been the Park Service’s Buxton lifeguarded beach.

In 2007, the No. 1 beach was the Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach. 

Leatherman said when he visited Ocracoke that one of his criteria is visitor safety, and the Buxton Beach, like the beach he chose on Ocracoke, has National Park Service lifeguards for most of the summer.

The Buxton Beach is located in the shadow of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on the largely undeveloped Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  Being undeveloped and natural is another thing that Leatherman likes.

Being named to Dr. Beach’s list is always a cause for celebration for the beaches he chooses, since a lot of publicity comes with the announcement of his new list. 

This year’s No. 1 beach is Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Fla.

Here is why Leatherman said Siesta Beach received the honor:

“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. “


Once a beach is named No. 1, as Ocracoke was, it is “retired” from competition. 

There’s still hope for the Cape Hatteras beach at Buxton Beach to get to the No. 1 spot.  Ocracoke was on the Top Ten list for several years before it was crowned the best beach in America.

For more information, go to www.DrBeach.org.


Dr. Beach’s Best Beaches in America for 2011


1.  Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Fla.
2.  Coronado Beach in San Diego, Calif.
3.  Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
4.  Main Beach in East Hampton, N.Y.
5.  Cape Hatteras in the Outer Banks of North Carolina
6.  St. George Island State Park, Florida panhandle
7.  Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina
8.  Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Mass.
9.  Waimanalo Bay Beach Park on Oahu, Hawaii
10. Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, Fla.



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