[UPDATE] 5-27 2pm -
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The nation's top beach critic named a Florida beach the best in the nation Friday, affirming that the Sunshine State's world-famous beaches are widely loved for good reason.
Siesta Key Beach, on a barrier island off Florida's central Gulf Coast, is the best beach in America for 2011, says Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, aka "Dr. Beach," who released his prestigious annual rankings Friday.
"The powdery sand is nearly pure quartz crystal. The beach is hundreds of yards wide, attracting volleyball players and beachcombers as well as those who just want to find their place in the sun," said Leatherman, who is director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research.
St. George Island State Park, in Northwest Florida, and Cape Florida State Park, in Key Biscayne, also are in Dr. Beach's Top 10 for this year. The other Top 10 beaches are in six other states.
Seven other Florida beaches were named best in America in recent years: Caladesi Island State Park (2008) and Fort De Soto Park (2005), both in the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay area; St. Joseph Peninsula State Park (2002) near Port St. Joe; St. Andrews State Park (1995) in Panama City Beach; Grayton Beach State Park (1994) in Walton County; and Bahia Honda State Park (1992) in the Florida Keys.
[UPDATE] 5-27 10am -
Our own St. George Island was ranked 6th in the nation by Florida International University professor Steven Leatherman, also known by his "Dr. Beach" nickname.
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) -- "Dr. Beach" says Sarasota's Siesta Beach
is the best in America.
The 40-acre county park claimed the top spot Friday in the annual rankings compiled by Florida International University professor Steven Leatherman, also known by his "Dr. Beach"
Siesta Beach claimed the No. 1 slot in the annual Top 10 after
being runner-up the last two years and third in 2008.
Leatherman ranks beaches on 50 criteria, including look and feel
of the sand, water quality, weather and crowds. He says Siesta
Beach got high marks for its brilliant white quartz crystal sand
and calm, clear water. San Diego's Coronado Beach was runner-up.