'Dr. Beach' Names Hanalei Bay America’s Best

Hanalei Bay takes the No. 1 spot in the 19th annual Top 10 Beaches ranking produced by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research.

Hanalei Bay is a white crescent-shaped sand beach that is considered by many residents and visitors to be the most beautiful beach setting in Hawaii. The two-mile long strand is lined by palm trees with a backdrop of waterfalls and mountain peaks that range up to 4,000 feet high. One of the best views of the beach is from the Princeville Hotel, located on the high bluff to the east. The other end of this wide coral sand beach is anchored by a high lava point that extends into the ocean. This panorama has been the inspiration for many paintings and photo shoots.

“Hanalei Bay on the garden island of Kauai is my favorite get-away beach in Hawaii,” noted Leatherman, an international expert on beaches and coastal processes. “The clear emerald waters are perfect for swimming during the tranquil summer months but only swim at the lifeguarded areas when the surf picks up during the wintertime as powerful rip currents are sometimes present. The laid-back little village of Hanalei is a good place for refreshments and casual dining, but accommodations are scarce so plan ahead.”

As “Dr. Beach”, Leatherman has selected the annual Top 10 Beaches since 1991. Fifty criteria are used to evaluate beaches, which include water and sand quality as well as safety, facilities, and environmental management. What makes Leatherman’s selections unique is his knowledge as a coastal scientist with more than 30 years of scientific experience studying storm impacts, erosion, and ways to improve beach health and safety.

Top 10 Beaches 2009

1. Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

2. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Fla.

3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, N.Y.

4. Coronado Beach, San Diego, Calif.

5. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii

6. Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.

7. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks of North Carolina

8. Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Fla.

9. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.

10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.

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