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The Best Beach Is in . . .

John Deiner

. . . North Carolina!

At least that's what Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka "Dr. Beach" (where do you go to school for that degree anyhow?), was set to announce today. We received a press release late yesterday (from North Carolina tourism, natch) heralding the fact that Ocracoke Island, on the Outer Banks, was about to receive the honor. The island is surrounded by Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic and is only accessible by water and air, so it's among the more pristine parts of OBX.

So, congratulations to Ocracoke (which has a big fan in our own Andrea Sachs). If you want to see for yourself what the beaches look like, check out an island tourism site.

More interesting to me was the fact that Ocracoke's award, according to the release, "marks the first time a beach outside of Florida or Hawaii has been named to the top position."

Wow. That's pretty impressive, and having grown up attached to the Jersey Shore (always the "shore" and always capitalized in my house), it left me wondering. I've been to tons of beaches in both Florida and Hawaii, and it's true that they can be remarkable in both places. But what the heck is so bad about Wildwood, N.J.? In the fall, the beaches there are massive, the water warm, the waves fun and the sand soft and inviting. I don't recall ever having a bad time in Wildwood (I'm such a Jersey boy), and I love the beach.

In our weekly chat last week on our Web site, I asked folks to name their favorite beaches, and not one mentioned Ocracoke. Maybe they should have. One mentioned Wildwood. Maybe she shouldn't have.

So what are your favorites?

By John Deiner |  June 8, 2007; 9:51 AM ET  | Category:  John Deiner , Mid-Atlantic Destinations
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The beaches of Fire Island, New York are my favorite. From Robert Moses State Park at the westernmost end, to Smith Point County Beach in the east, my love for this little strip of sand encompasses every unique and quirky beach community in between. The beaches are clean and deep, and they face the "right way" - with the sun rising at your left hand and setting at your right when you sit facing the ever-changing Atlantic Ocean.

Posted by: Karen | June 8, 2007 10:59 AM

I am a Jersey Girl and I say the Jersey Shore has some of the best offerings! Personally I am akin to Island Beach State Park. It is pristine and protected, the beach itself is soft and inviting while in some cases it is quite an adventure to get to as the paths take you through the dunes.

Posted by: Devon | June 8, 2007 11:20 AM

Okracoke has a very nice beach but, on the negative side, it tends to be rather windy and is not terribly close to the residential area. Ocean City, NJ, has a great beach but the two best I've experienced are Paradise Island on Nassau, Bahamas (probobly built over by Atlantis Resort by now) and Clearwater Beach in Florida,

Posted by: mike | June 8, 2007 12:02 PM

Myrtle Beach, SC is the only way to go!

Posted by: sthrngrl | June 8, 2007 12:13 PM

I stand by Wildwood. The beaches are huge, the boardwalk is so much fun and my memories of my summer vacations there are terrific. Though I do remember the trip we could not swim in the ocean most days becuase of some sort of environmental hazard. But the second those red flags came down... Let's just say that the Wildwood crowd was not intimidated by a few germs! (Oh the days before Purell)

I can say however, that as an adult I have expereinced other kinds of beaches and love that vibe as well. I love Avon, NC in the Outer Beaches of the Outer Banks. We have ferried to Orcracoke and love the beach and the quaint town but the approximately 10 miles between the beach and the town is a big negative for me.

Posted by: Amy | June 8, 2007 11:23 PM

We had mixed feelings about Ocracoke being picked as no. 1. We've been going there for 18 years and love its wildness and pristine nature. The beach is _not_ 10 miles from town. We bicycle to the lifeguard beach from our B&B--about 1 mile. Being a National Seashore has kept it a jewel. Sure, sometimes we wish we could walk out the door of a cottage to the beach, but then there'd be all those other people and buildings fouling up the view. So hurray for Ocracoke getting noticed for what we knew all along--but everyone else please ignore the ranking and stay away :)

Posted by: Ocracoke | June 12, 2007 11:21 AM

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