Florida Has Top Beach in Latest Dr. Beach Ranking

St. George Island State Park in the Panhandle is one of two Florida beaches on the list
The barrier island of St. George has honored top honors in 2023.
Sugary sand and crystal-clear water caught Dr. Beach’s attention this year. Dr. Beach photo

The Doctor has spoken, and he has deemed St. George Island State Park in the Panhandle as the top U.S. beach for 2023.

Known as Dr. Beach, Stephen P. Leatherman, a professor in the Department of Earth & Environment at Florida International University in Miami, has ranked America’s beaches annually since 1991. The good doctor is said to use 50 criteria to grade beaches, including the quality of the sand and the water. He awards bonus points for smoking bans on beaches.

Remaking on St. George’s beach, Leatherman wrote: “This long barrier island, far from urban areas, is a favorite destination for beachgoers, anglers and bird watchers as nature abounds. Besides swimming in the crystal-clear water, I enjoy beachcombing and shelling. While St. George Island suffered a big hit in 2018 by Hurricane Michael, the area has substantially recovered, especially the sugary fine, white sand beach. There is much to explore at this serene 1,962-acre park.”

Caladesi Island State Park off the Gulf coast of Pinellas County was ranked No. 4 for 2023.

Previous Florida beaches that ranked as the nation’s best include: Grayton Beach State Park (2020) and Siesta Beach (2017).

Here’s Dr. Beach’s Top 10 list for 2023:

  1. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
  2. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
  3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
  4. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
  5. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina
  6. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
  7. Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii
  8. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  9. Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
  10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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