An hour’s drive from Oahu’s famous and often-crowded Waikiki Beach is a local’s delight.
With miles of white sand and turquoise waters perfect for swimming, body boarding and sailing, Hawaii’s Waimanalo Bay Beach Park topped Dr. Beach’s 25th annual top 10 list of U.S. beaches, released Thursday.
“Waimanalo Bay Beach Park is an unexpected surprise to visitors who have come upon this beach because it is a great beach and hardly known,” said Dr. Beach, also known as coastal expert and Florida International University professor Stephen P. Leatherman.
There can be strong currents in the quickly deepening waters, so look for the lifeguard tower to swim in protected areas, he said.
Dr. Beach issues his annual list on the basis of 50 criteria, including water and sand quality. He’s recently started including beach safety, environmental management and bonus points for no-smoking policies.
Santa Barbara, California’s, East Beach was ranked 10th on the list before reports of an oil spill near Refugio State Park surfaced Tuesday. Refugio is about 25 miles north of East Beach.
“Bad things can happen to beaches, and the broken pipeline is a good example,” Dr. Beach said. “Fortunately, the spill is north of Santa Barbara’s East Beach, which is on the list, but unfortunately, (Refugio) is a beautiful park that has been badly fouled. All the oil is close to shore, as the leak came from onshore, so hopefully it can be cleaned up quickly.”
Though Hawaii took two of the top 10 spots, Florida won the competition for most beaches listed with four. California, Massachusetts, North Carolina and South Carolina each had one beach in the top 10.
Why isn’t your favorite beach listed? Past winners are retired and listed at www.DrBeach.org, making way for new winners.
See the top 10 beaches of 2015 in the slideshow above.