(Cape Hatteras, N.C.) Cape Hatteras came in at number 10 in the 2012 survey by “Dr. Beach”
professor Stephen P. Leatherman of Florida International University. Coronado Beach in California came in at number one. It
is the first time “Dr. Beach” has given the top slot to California in
the more than two decades that he has been ranking beaches in the United
States based on their environmental quality and safety for swimmers. Coronado Beach, on a peninsula across the bay from San Diego, has near-perfect Mediterranean weather and a postcard backdrop. Rounding
out the top 10 this year were No. 2, Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki,
Honolulu, Hawaii; No. 3, Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.; No. 4, St.
George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle; No. 5, Hamoa Beach, Maui,
Hawaii; No. 6, Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.; No. 7, Waimanalo Bay
Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii; No. 8, Cape Florida State Park near Miami.;
No. 9, Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.; and No. 10, Cape Hatteras
in North Carolina. Leatherman
ranks beaches on 50 criteria, including the look and feel of the sand,
water quality, weather, facilities and crowds. A top score is 250.
Coronado came in the 230s, losing points because its water temperature
hovering in the 60s allows for only a quick dip for most, Leatherman
said. California’s chilly coastal waters have cost its pristine beaches
points when they’ve been up against balmy contenders in Florida and
Hawaii in the past. Coronado Beach was runner-up last year to Florida’s
Siesta Beach. Once a beach tops Leatherman’s list, it is retired from
consideration for future rankings. A No. 1 spot on the popular list typically brings a 15-to-20-percent boost in visitors.