Best Beaches

10 Best Beaches In America In 2023, According To Dr. Beach

todayNovember 24, 2023 87

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Ranked: 10 Best Beaches In America In 2023, According To Dr. Beach
by Laura Begley Bloom

Now that summer is here, everyone is looking for the best beaches in the U.S. The person who has the answers: Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach.

Every year, Leatherman ranks the top U.S. beaches along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts. He uses 50 criteria scored on a five-point scale, including sand softness, number of sunny days, cleanliness and more.

A geoscientist and coastal ecologist, Leatherman got his nickname when he was a professor at the University of Maryland, teaching a course on waves and beaches. His students nicknamed him “Dr. Beach.”

Green Canoe and family at Florida’s Panhandle white sand beaches
St George Island State Park in Florida was named America’s top beach.GETTY
This year, St. George Island State Park—on a barrier island near the Florida Panhandle—was named the number 1 beach in the United States in Dr. Beach’s annual Best Beaches awards, which is published just in time for Memorial Day Weekend.

What Leatherman loves about St. George Island State Park: “It has the finest whitest sand in the world, made of crystal—there’s nothing like it,” says Leatherman. “In the bright sun, it is so blinding white you need to wear your sunglasses.”

The winning beach is fringed by clean, clear emerald-green water and is set on St. George Island, which stretches for 20 miles along the coast of Florida at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. “It’s known for oysters and other shellfish,” says Leatherman.

The town of St. George has seafood restaurants and mom-and-pop motels, unless you prefer to go camping in the park itself. There’s also a beautiful lighthouse. “It gives you a great view of the whole area—a panorama of the state park and the nine miles of pristine beach,” says Leatherman.

The 2023 list had many of the same beaches that appeared in 2022 and 2021, but in different positions. There was also an exciting newcomer for 2023: Poipu Beach on Kauai, the Garden Island. The unique thing about Poipu: It’s a double beach separated by a tombolo, an isthmus created sand that has grown out to meet an offshore island. “It protects you from the waves, so you have very shallow water, a sandy beach and no waves—perfect for children,” says Leatherman.

From Florida to Hawaii, here are Dr. Beach’s 10 best beaches for 2023.

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