Best Beaches

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It's a Hawaiian beach that gets this year's designation as the best beach in the United States.

It's Hanauma Bay, which is a volcanic crater flooded with gem-blue Pacific waters and hundreds of species of tropical fish on the island of Oahu. The rankings are compiled by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, the Miami environmental scientist known as "Dr. Beach."

Four Florida beaches make the top ten rankings. They are Fort De Soto Park, Caladesi Island State Park and Crescent Beach along the central Gulf coast, and Cape Florida State Park near Miami.

Leatherman says he visits more than 100 beaches each year, using a 50 criteria to rate everything from sand color to water clarity, parking to wave levels. He is a coastal expert and a professor at Florida International University in Miami.

The best beaches for 2004, according to rankings compiled by Stephen Leatherman, the coastal expert and Florida International University professor known as "Dr. Beach."

  • 1. Hanauma Bay, Hawaii
  • 2. Fort De Soto Park, Fla.
  • 3. Ocracoke Island, N.C.
  • 4. Caladesi Island State Park, Fla.
  • 5. Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.
  • 6. Hanalei Bay, Hawaii
  • 7. Crescent Beach, Siesta Key, Fla.
  • 8. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.
  • 9. Cape Florida State Park, Fla.
  • 10. Coronado Beach, Calif.