With over 30 years of sand grading under his belt, Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman released its annual list of the best beaches in the country, and only two spots in Florida made it to the top.
Caladesi Island State Park, located in Dunedin, entered at No. 2, in Dr Beach’s Ten Best Beaches in 2022 in the country.
“Caladesi is accessible by foot ferry, private boats, or a long walk north of Clearwater Beach; the cove is closed, so Caladesi is no longer a proper island, but still a great getaway,” says Dr Beach. “The White Beach is made up of crystal quartz sand which is soft and fluffy at the water’s edge, inviting to swim in the sparkling clear waters. There are walking trails, but my favorite are the kayaking trails and canoeing through the mangroves to see the great blue herons and other birds that frequent this beautiful natural space.
Caladesi’s high ranking is a significant improvement from last year’s 7th place, which is surprising since the description of the beach is word for word the same like the 2021 ranking and does not explain the jump at all.
Nonetheless, Caladesi was just one of two Florida beaches to make the list, with Panhandle’s St. George’s Island Park coming in at No. 4.
“This long barrier island, away from urban areas, is a favorite destination for beachgoers, fishermen and birdwatchers, as nature is abundant here. Besides swimming in the crystal clear water, I like to plunder the beach and bomb,” says Dr. Beach. “While St. George’s Island was hit hard in 2018 by Hurricane Michael, the area has recovered significantly, especially the sugar-white sandy beach. There is much to explore in this serene park of 2,023 acres.”
Notably, the list also omitted recent winners from Florida beaches like Siesta Key and Grayton Beach State Park. Over the past year, Florida has seen some of the worst Red Tide algae blooms in recent history, which could explain the lack of gulf-adjacent beaches.
Here is the full 2022 list:
1. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
2. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
3. Cooper’s Beach, Southampton, New York
4. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
5. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
6. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina
7. Coronado Beach, San Diego, CA
8. Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii
9. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC
10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Dr. Beach’s annual list is chosen by a 50 point criteriawhich includes things like noise levels, traffic, odors, general access, seaweed levels, rip currents, and even the slope of the beach.
This story originally appeared on Creative hobbies in Tampa Bay.