The best beach in America is Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay, according to Dr. Beach’s “Top 10 list of beaches for 2016.”
Stephen Leatherman is a Florida International University professor known as Dr. Beach. Leatherman as a coastal scientist has been reviewing beaches around the country since 1991.
For the second year in a row a beach in Hawaii has been selected as the beach No.1 on the list of America’s top ten beaches. Dr. Beach uses about 50 criteria to assess and rank beaches including water and sand quality as well as other major factors like safety and management.
Leatherman has given extra points to beaches that prohibit smoking, noting that they found that fish were eating cigarette butts. The cigarette butts are not only environmentally damaging. They can ruin the experience for beach-goers. Leatherman said that nobody wants “these cigarette butts on the beaches, because kids eat them, too”.
Hanauma Bay Beach Park is in the eastern part of Oahu, about 20 kilometers from Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital. Dr. Beach writes in a press release that Hanauma Bay was the first beach in the state to ban smoking. He calls Hanauma Bay “stunning in every respect” and adds that it provides the best snorkeling in the area “in safe, calm water” that has “thousands of beautifully colored tropical fish which span the rainbow.”
About 3,000 people visit the white-sanded beach every day, which is why it is closed to the public on Tuesdays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day to allow the fish to feed “without interruption” and without the stress of swimmers nearby, according to the preserve’s website.
Hanauma Bay became a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. A few years later, local officials laid out a plan to better protect the area. All first-time visitors are required to watch an informational video to learn about the marine life, preservation, conservation, as well as the safety rules for the park. It’s against the law to mistreat the marine animals in the bay, and visitors are not allowed to touch or walk on the coral reefs.
Among others on Dr. Beach’s Top 10 list are Siesta Beach, in Sarasota, Florida; Ocracoke on North Carolina’s Outer Banks; Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and San Diego’s Coronado Beach in California. Florida has three of the beaches on the list: Siesta Beach, in Sarasota, Grayton Beach State Park and Caladesi Island State Park ranked in positions 2,6 and 9.