Every year, coastal science professor Stephen Leatherman also known as “Dr. Beach” ranks the best beaches in the U.S.
At the top of the list for 2016: Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay, on Oahu.
Leatherman, who is a professor and Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, uses 50 criteria to rank the quality of public beaches.
That includes everything from sand and water quality to environmental management and available amenities, and Leatherman has now added smoking bans to the criteria.
Hanauma Bay, one of the most popular tourist destinations on Oahu, took the top spot. In the past, the beach has struggled with influxes of tourists.
Hanauma Bay became a marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. In 1990, local officials formulated a plan to better protect the area. All first-time visitors who come to the popular snorkeling spot are required to watch an informational video that teaches them about preservation and conservation, as well as the safety rules for the bay. It’s against the law to mistreat any marine life in the bay, and visitors are not allowed to touch or walk on the coral reefs.
Besides Hawaii, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, California and New York were represented on the list.
The complete list of top beaches:
Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida
Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui
Ocracoke on North Carolina’s Outer Banks
Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Florida’s Grayton Beach State Park
San Diego’s Coronado Beach
Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York
Florida’s Caladesi Island State Park
Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Additional reporting by the Associated Press.
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