According to Dr. Stephen Leatherman, hard-packed sand and sloping dunes make the best walking beaches―and he should know. Since 1991, under the alias "Dr. Beach," the environmental studies professor has released his now-famous list of the top 10 beaches in America.
Leatherman teaches at Florida International University in Miami, where he also directs FIU's International Hurricane Center/Laboratory for Coastal Research. He earned his nickname after visiting every U.S. public beach twice.
Here is Leatherman's list of the best walking beaches, with short descriptions of each one's attributes following.
1. GAY HEAD, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
A quaint lighthouse and vivid red, white, and blue clay exposed in the cliff face.
2. HAMMOCKS BEACH STATE PARK, Swansboro, North Carolina
A no-cars-allowed rule (pedestrians access the beach by ferry) and loggerhead sea turtles that nest on the beach.
3. CRESCENT BEACH, Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida
Fine, white sand and the beach's crescent shape.
4. CARMEL BEACH, California
Rocky headlands and the lovely town of Carmel.
5. SAND POINT, Olympic National Park, Washington
Nature at its best and wildest.
6. KAILUA BEACH, Oahu, Hawaii
The finest, flattest, and one of the longest beaches in the sate, with coconut trees and a country park.
7. GRAYTON BEACH, Florida, on the Panhandle
The world's finest, whitest sand, emerald-green water.
8. CALADESI ISLAND, Florida, on the Gulf Coast near Clearwater
The perfect island escape from the crowds; wonderful wildlife―especially birds and porpoises.
9. CUMBERLAND ISLAND, Georgia
A pristine national seashore and the ruins of old Carnegie family mansions.
10. CORONADO BEACH, California
Beautiful, with proximity to every creature comfort.