San Diego Coastal scientist Stephen P. Leatherman, a professor at Florida International University known as "Dr. Beach
," has named two Florida beaches -- St. George Island State Park in Florida’s Panhandle and Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne -- to his annual list of best beaches.
Dr. Beach has been compiling the list annually since 1991. He uses 50 criteria, including sand and water quality as well as safety and environmental management.
St. George Island State Park: “The Florida Panhandle beaches are back, as oil from the BP spill has vanished and the sand is squeaky clean (just rub your feet on the sand and hear them squeak). The brilliant white sands and clear waters of St. George Island were fortunately not even impacted last summer. Stingrays are sometimes resting in the shallow waters so shuffle your feet when entering. Birding and fishing are very popular activities here.”
Cape Florida State Park: “Located at the south tip of Key Biscayne, [it] provides clear, emerald-colored waters and gentle surf. This fine, white coral sand beach is great for swimming, as waves are knocked down by a large sand shoal offshore. In addition, the Cape Florida lighthouse allows for a breathtaking view of this beautiful beach.”
Dr. Beach's "Top 10" best beaches read like this:
No. 1 -- Coronado Beach, San Diego, Calif.
No. 2 -- Kahanamoku Beach, Waikiki - Oahu, 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, Key Biscayne, Fla.
No. 9 -- Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.
No. 10 -- Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks of North Carolina.