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US Beach Report: Siesta Key Is the Place to Be


This May 18, 2017 photo shows Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fla. Siesta Beach is No. 1 on the list of best beaches for the summer of 2017 compiled by Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, a professor at Florida International University. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Last month, we talked about the best beaches in the world according to the website TripAdvisor. One beach in the United States made the top ten. Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Florida came in at number five on TripAdvisor’s list.

But there are other extraordinary beaches across America. Today we will tell about the top ten as rated by a scientist and professor known as Dr. Beach.

Dr. Beach’s real name is Stephen Leatherman. He directs the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University in Miami.

He began his yearly best U.S. beaches list in 1991. He releases it every Memorial Day. Dr. Beach considers 50 conditions in preparing his list. They include water and sand quality, as well as "safety and management.”

1. Siesta Beach, Florida

This year, TripAdvisor and Dr. Beach agree on the appeal of Siesta Key, Florida.

This May 18, 2017 photo shows Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. (AP Photo, Chris O'Meara)
This May 18, 2017 photo shows Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. (AP Photo, Chris O'Meara)

Dr. Beach rated the barrier island's Siesta Beach as the best in America. He noted its bright white sand that spreads more than 150 meters to the water’s edge. He also described the clean, clear waters of Siesta Key as “ideal for swimming.”

2. Kapalua Bay Beach, Hawaii

We have to travel across the country and over the Pacific Ocean to reach the next beach on the list. Kapalua Bay Beach is on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Kapalua Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Kapalua Beach, Maui, Hawaii

​This beautiful, curved beach is protected by lava rock formations at both ends that extend far into the water. And that water is a deep, clear, inviting blue. Dr. Beach says Kapalua Bay is filled with colorful tropical fish to see. And snorkeling equipment can be rented right on the beach.

3. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, North Carolina

Number three on Dr. Beach’s list is Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach in North Carolina, part of the state’s Outer Banks area. These barrier islands of the U.S. east coast are long and narrow, with good waves for surfing. Ocracoke is Dr. Beach’s favorite “getaway” beach for its natural quality. He notes that it is not the place to go for a resort experience. No golf course or fancy hotels at Ocracoke. Dr. Beach says it is one of America’s “wildest” beaches.

Surfing off the coast of Ocracoke Island
Surfing off the coast of Ocracoke Island

4. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida

We are back in Florida for beach number four. But Grayton State Beach Park is in the northwestern part of the state known as the panhandle. Like Ocracoke, Grayton State Beach is largely undeveloped, so it is especially popular with campers. Big dunes still protect the beach with its, in Dr. Beach’s words, “sugar white sands and emerald green water.” People also enjoy playing in its tidal pools and walking or biking the more than six kilometers of park paths.

5. Coopers Beach, New York

The next beach on the list may not possess the warm waters found at the last, but it is similarly quiet and peaceful. Coopers Beach is in Southhampton, New York. It is a family-centered beach lined with mansions behind the dunes. Coopers Beach, like much of the Hamptons, is a pricey place to visit for lodging, restaurants, and other tourist needs. But the wide beach, lively seagulls and Atlantic Ocean waves are free for all!

Cooper's Beach
Cooper's Beach

6. Coast Guard Beach, Massachusetts

We continue north in our best beaches journey, and the water gets colder! Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts is number six on the list. This pretty place is designated a U.S. National Seashore, and so belongs to the National Parks System. Coast Guard Beach is often described as “breathtaking.” There are many spots to take in beautiful views of the ocean, dunes and marshes. Winter visitors can enjoy seal sightings, and the area is home to many kinds of birds in the warmer months. And, of course, it offers great swimming in the summer.

7. Caladesi Island State Park, Florida

It is back to Florida for Dr. Beach’s seventh pick for 2017’s top ten. This one is not so easy to reach but well worth the effort. Caladesi Island State Park is on the Gulf of Mexico. Most visitors take boats to get to Caladesi, but it can be reached by foot if you are up for a few hours of beach walking. Once you are there, you might just lie on the soft, warm sand or float in the green-blue water. But Dr. Beach says his favorite activity is boating through Caladesi’s mangroves.

Caladesi Island
Caladesi Island

8. Hapuna Beach, Hawaii

Next up is another state park beach back on the Pacific Island of Hawaii, also called the Big Island. Hapuna Beach is a perfect little curve of white coral sand and deep blue ocean. Dr. Beach says it is great for swimming, although the surf can be wild with strong currents. Luckily, there are well-trained lifeguards to help keep visitors safe.

9. Coronado Beach, California

Number nine is a regular on Dr. Beach’s yearly lists. Coronado Beach is in the city of San Diego, California, a state famous for its Pacific Ocean coast. Coronado is an extremely wide, flat beach that leads to a sparkling ocean, calm and warm in summer. The huge and elegant Hotel Del Coronado is a beloved beach landmark. The Victorian-style building was completed in 1888. In 1977 it was named a National Historic Landmark.

In this May 22, 2012 photo, a couple enjoys the sun and sand on Coronado Beach in California.
In this May 22, 2012 photo, a couple enjoys the sun and sand on Coronado Beach in California.

10. Beachwalker Park, South Carolina

Dr. Beach's final favorite beach of 2017 is found in South Carolina's Kiawah Island. Despite its name, Beachwalker Park offers more than a stroll on the sands. The lowlands area is also great for kayaking and watching the thousands of birds that make their home there. Dr. Beach also praises the area's fresh seafood, prepared in the traditional lowlands styles. So, you might want to come hungry.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly. And I'm Mario Ritter.

Caty Weaver wrote this report for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Have you visited any beaches in the United States? Which is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

management n. the act or skill of controlling and making decisions about a business, department, sports team, etc​

ideal adj. exactly right for a particular purpose, situation, or person​; perfect

resort n. a place where people go for vacations​

lodging n. a place where a person (such as a traveler) can stay for usually a short period of time: a place to sleep​

dune n. a hill of sand near an ocean or in a desert that is formed by the wind​

marsh ​–​ n. an area of soft, wet land that has many grasses and other plants​

mangrove ​–​ n. a tropical tree that has roots which grow from its branches and that grows in swamps or shallow salt water​

sparkling ​–​ adj. shining with or reflecting bright points of light​

elegant –​ adj. graceful and attractive​

stroll ​–​ v. to walk slowly in usually a pleasant and relaxed way​

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