Kapalua Bay Beach
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The world-renowned beach expert has spoken.

By Mary Tomlinson

What makes a beach the best in America? The softness of the sand, the size of the waves, the proximity to the closest Tiki bar? Thankfully, you don’t have to wonder about this all-important question, as coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman—a.k.a. Dr. Beach—has released his 2018 list of the Best Beaches in America.

Dr. Beach has compiled a list of the top 10 beaches in America for the last 27 years, evaluating 50 pieces of criteria from water color to sand softness to average number of sunny days. He is a Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University and has written 16 books and over 200 journal articles on all things beaches and oceans—so you know he’s earned the title of Dr. Beach!

Related: Fun Things to Do in Maui

This year’s best beach in America? Kapalua Bay Beach on the island of Maui in Hawaii, a secluded, crescent-shaped stretch of sand, says Dr. Beach in a press release. Boasting clear azure waters and spots to rent snorkeling gear for viewing vividly-colored tropical fish just offshore, the beach also offers easy access to nearby restaurants for a bite after a long day on the sand.

Here’s the full ranking of the 2018 Best Beaches in America, according to Dr. Beach:

Kapalua Bay Beach
Karoline Cullen/Shutterstock

1. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii
2. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
3. Grayton Beach State Park Florida Panhandle
4. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
5. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
6. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outerbanks of North Carolina
7. Caladesi Island State Park Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawai'i
9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
10. Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Check out more of the best beaches in the world (according to you!), secret beaches, and beaches in every color—there's always a new spot to explore.