Hanauma Bay, pictured above, is the number one beach in the 26th annual Top 10 Beach List, produced by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, professor at Florida International University.
Hanauma Bay Beach Park is located on the eastern end of Oahu. There is limited parking so the best way is to reach this stunning white sand coral beach enclosed in a breached volcano is to take the Waikiki Beach Shuttle. The marine protected area, which has the best accessible snorkeling in Hawaii, is closed on Tuesdays to give the fish a chance to rest. In fact, this became the first no-smoking beach in Hawaii because of the necessity to protect the thousands of beautifully-colored tropical fish which span the rainbow. There are lifeguards along this crescent-shaped beach along with full amenities.
Starting this year, extra credit is being awarded to beaches that prohibit smoking and the list of best beaches is beginning anew so all beaches have a chance again of making the list.
As “Dr. Beach”, Leatherman has selected the annual Top 10 Beaches since 1991. 50 criteria are used to evaluate beaches, which include water and sand quality as well as safety and management. Dr. Leatherman is an internationally known coastal scientist who has published 20 books and hundreds of scientific articles and reports about storm impacts, coastal erosion and ways to improve beach health and safety.
More emphasis is being placed on environmental management and beach safety. Bonus points are awarded for prohibition of smoking on beaches. Oahu is leading the way as smoking at all beaches on this Hawaiian island is now banned.
TOP 10 BEACHES 2016 (according to Dr. Beach)
1. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu, Hawaii
2. Siesta Beach Sarasota, Florida
3. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii
4. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
5. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
6. Grayton Beach State Park Florida panhandle
7. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
8. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
9. Caladesi Island State Park Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
10. Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina