Waimanalo park tops list of country’s best beaches

Waimanalo Bay Beach Park

(CNN) — 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, Waimanalo Bay Beach Park topped Dr. Beach’s 25th annual top 10 list of U.S. beaches, released Thursday.

“(It) is an unexpected surprise to visitors who have come upon this beach because it is a great beach and hardly known,” Dr. Beach — aka coastal expert and Florida International University professor Stephen P. Leatherman — said. He added that there can be strong currents in the quickly deepening waters, so look for the lifeguard tower to swim in protected areas.

“Obviously, if you really value a place, you don’t want too many people to come here, ” said longtime visitor David Wixey. “If they do come here, it would be really nice if they just respect the people, respect the beach, and have a great time and enjoy themselves.”

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,” Leatherman 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 (see below), 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.

  • 1. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii
  • 2. Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park, Bonita Springs, Florida
  • 3. St. George Island State Park, Florida
  • 4. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
  • 5. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, North Carolina
  • 6. Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Florida
  • 7. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • 8. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  • 9. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Naples, Florida
  • 10. East Beach, Santa Barbara, California

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