As we all know, the Hawaiian Islands are chalked full of amazing and beautiful beaches. More often than not they are put on “top beach” lists and usually a beach in Hawaii is ranked #1. This year is no different, as Waimanalo Bay was just named top beach in America by Dr. Beach.
This on the heels of Kaanapali Beach being listed as top beach in the United States by anther publication. Waimanalo Bay was named the top beach on an annual top 10 list of U.S. beaches compiled by a coastal science professor known as Dr. Beach.
Who is Dr. Beach?
Dr. Beach is actually Professor Stephen Leatherman of Florida International University. He compiles the popular list of best public beaches in the United States using 50 criteria, including best sand and water quality, environmental management and amenities. Using all these factors he then distributes the list.
This time around Waimanalo Bay beat out Barefoot Beach in Florida as the top pick for 2015, according to Dr. Beach. In recent years Leatherman has given extra points to beaches that have good safety records and no-smoking rules.
“Cigarette butts are the number one form of litter on beaches — plastics in terms of volume but in terms of numbers it’s cigarette butts — so I’m starting to give beaches extra credit for no smoking,” Leatherman recently said.
Leatherman said he has been to beaches where he counted 10 cigarette butts in a square meter, but smoking is illegal on beaches in Oahu, giving the island a boost on the list.
Leatherman cited Waimanalo’s unassuming location, on a single-lane road in a rural stretch of the windward coast of Oahu, as another reason for its selection as the best of 2015. It’s located in a quiet town near an Air Force base, far away from the busy streets of Waikiki.
“It’s a beach that a lot of people don’t know much about,” Leatherman said. “I think it’s one of those little gems . a lot of, shall we say, tourists — people from out of state — miss it all together.”
Weatherman has been to Waimanalo Bay and said that it is one of the longest beaches to make the list. Clean water and sand were important factors for Leatherman in deciding this year’s best beaches. Safety and environmental management were also key components. Waimanalo Bay has lifeguards on duty and the water is not very deep or treacherous, Leatherman says.
“There are a lot of beaches in Hawaii that are absolutely gorgeous but not very safe,” he added.
Other Top Beaches
After Waimanalo, the other beaches on this year’s list are Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs, Florida, in the No. 2 spot, followed by St. George Island State Park on the Florida Panhandle; Hamoa Beach on Maui, Hawaii; Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks of North Carolina; Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, Florida; Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, South Carlolina; Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in Naples, Florida; and East Beach in Santa Barbara, California.