Part of Outer Banks Named to America’s Best Beaches List :: WRAL.com

– A wilderness on North Carolina’s Outer Banks has earned the top spot on an annual list of America’s Best Beaches.

Ocracoke Island’s patrolled beach is the first stretch of sand in 2022, according to coastal scientist Stephen Leatherman, also known as “Dr. Beach.”

Leatherman, professor and director of the Coastal Research Laboratory at Florida International University, has been ranking America’s best beaches since 1991.

It uses 50 criteria to evaluate 650 public beaches in the United States. Criteria include beach width, sand softness, water temperature and color, wildlife and more.

The patrolled beach on Ocracoke Island rose to No. 1 this year from its No. 3 ranking in 2021. The beach is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and operated by the National Park Service.

“I love this area because it has the three things you need to have to make a great beach: clean sand, clean water, and beach safety,” Leatherman told CNN Travel Wednesday morning from the shores of Ocracoke, where it was windy with a little surf.

Ocracoke Island’s 16 miles of undeveloped coastline makes it “a little rough around the edges,” according to its tourism organization, “in the best possible way.” The island also has ties to the infamous pirate Blackbeard.

Ocracoke is only accessible by private plane or boat and ferry service, which accommodates cars and RVs.

Some of the wildest beaches in the country are found here, according to Leatherman. He warns that families with children may want to visit earlier in the summer, as late summer brings big waves.

“Don’t expect to play golf or stay at the Ritz; the main activities are swimming and beach walks, and exploring the historic village,” Leatherman said in the description of the beach on his listing. annual.

What NOT to pack? Golf clubs and high heels, says Visit Ocracoke. “It’s an island, but it’s not a resort,” its website says. Walking to dinner in casual attire — even for Ocracoke’s most upscale restaurants — is encouraged.

Beachfront accommodation is limited to a National Park Service campground, so most visitors stay in the village a few miles from the beach.

More of America’s Best Beaches

A second beach in the Outer Banks, Lighthouse Beach at Buxton on Hatteras Island is No. 6 this year. This beach was the site of the old spiral-striped Cape Hatteras Lighthouse until erosion caused it to move about 3,000 feet inland in 1999.

So how did North Carolina get two top 10 spots this year?

Leatherman gives extra credit for no smoking and both Outer Banks beaches have a smoking ban, he said. “And beach safety is also very important. The biggest danger on beaches is rip currents. Both of these beaches have very good lifeguard programs.”

Beach #2 for 2022 is Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida, with its crystal-clear quartz sand and clear Gulf Coast waters. It is accessible by ferry or private boat.

“You come in on the ferry and go through the mangroves, so there’s lots of bird life there, and great fishing there too,” Leatherman said.

The water at Caladesi tends to be much calmer than at #1 Ocracoke. One thing to watch out for: stingrays.

“Just shuffle your feet and they take off,” Leatherman said.

Coopers Beach, backed by sand dunes and extravagant mansions in Southampton, New York, ranks third.

Rounding out the top five are St. George Island State Park on the Florida Panhandle (#4) and Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Oahu, Hawaii (#5).

Beaches in California, South Carolina and Massachusetts appear in the second half of the ranking.

“We’re lucky here in the United States, we really have hundreds of beautiful beaches…and these are just the top 10,” Leatherman said.

Here is the full list of the top 10:

  1. Top 10 beaches in 2022
  2. 1. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
  3. 2. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
  4. 3. Cooper’s Beach, Southampton, New York
  5. 4. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
  6. 5. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
  7. 6. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina
  8. 7. Coronado Beach, San Diego, CA
  9. 8. Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii
  10. 9. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC
  11. 10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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