The United States has plenty of beaches along its 95,000 miles of coastline — from fine white sands and rocky shores to world-renown surf spots. If your favorite vacation spot has surf and seagulls, seasoned beach expert Dr. Beach will make sure you’re setting up your towel on the best sandy spot.
Dr. Beach is not a travel reporter or the head of a chamber association. He's a professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, and he has been ranking U.S. beaches since 1991. Dr. Beach's criteria uses 50 categories, and accounts for water quality, sand quality, amenities, views and pest levels, to select the best beaches the nation has to offer. Here are his Top 4:
1. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii
This crescent-shaped white sand beach sits on Maui’s northwest coast. Popular with snorkelers and swimmers, the calm turquoise-blue water is filled with unique corals, tropical fish and turtles. The picturesque views of palm trees and endless ocean are also enough to keep loungers in their chairs.
2. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina
Considered the “Pearl of Outer Banks,” this spot’s miles of secluded golden sand is a beachcombers paradise. The laid back shore has been left mostly undeveloped, leaving a feeling of privacy and relaxation — largely helped by the fact that this beach is only accessible by air or water.
3. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida Panhandle
4. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
This scenic Long Island beach overlooking the Atlantic will please both the beach lover and the architecture lover. The tall beach grasses and sand dunes back up against historic mansions like Calvin Klein’s beach residence — all seen from the comfort of your beach chair.