Dr. Beach – Professor Stephen Leatherman at Florida International University – has posted his annual list of America’s top 10 beaches. The list is based on his evaluation of 50 factors, including cleanliness, safety and amenities. . Kiawah Island’s Beachwalker Park (eastern 1/5 of the island that the developers donated to the county back when the resort was started) came in as the 9th best beach in America.
2014’s Top Beaches
1. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
2. Barefoot Beach, Bonita Springs, Fla.
3. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
4. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii
5. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
6. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks of North Carolina
7. Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Fla.
8. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.
9. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.
10. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Naples, Fla.
Kiawah’s Beachwalker Park is No. 9, up from No. 10 on last year’s list.
The beach is on Kiawah Island’s west end and offers both ocean frontage and a view of the Kiawah River.
The top beach on the list is Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii.
“It’s safe for kids and families,” Leatherman told the Associated Press. “The water quality’s great. The vistas are right off the scale for that place.”
Smoking is also not allowed on the beach, which Leatherman considers a plus.
Hawaii’s Waimanalo Bay Beach Park on Oahu, and Hamoa Beach on Maui, were also among the top 10 beaches Leatherman named this year. The others were Florida’s Barefoot Beach, St. George Island State Park, Key Biscayne and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park; North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras; Massachusetts’ Cape Cod; and South Carolina’s Kiawah Island.
Duke Kahanamoku Beach is the 13th Hawaii beach to win the distinction as America’s best – the fourth on Oahu, following Hanauma Bay, Kailua Beach Park and Lanikai Beach. Once a beach wins, Leatherman retires it from consideration for future lists.
Outside Hawaii, Florida boasts the most past winners in the Dr. Beach rankings, with seven. New York beaches have won twice, while California and North Carolina have produced one top beach apiece.
This already has been a big spring for Duke Kahanamoku Beach. In the new blockbuster movie “Godzilla,” it’s where the monster clambers out of the Pacific and into Waikiki, flooding the streets and demolishing hotels.
Leatherman, who did his Ph.D. on beach erosion, said such a kaiju attack would hurt the beach in his rankings if the debris wasn’t cleaned up. “The tsunami itself would go over top of the whole thing,” he said, “and the beach would still be there.”