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Surf Wars: A Beef Over the 'Best Beaches'

John Deiner

So, once again, Stephen Leatherman, aka "Dr. Beach," has issued his list of the Top 10 beaches -- just in time for vacation season, when you can gripe that you're not visiting one of his choices.

This year's winner: Caladesi Island State Park, near Clearwater, Fla. According to a story in the Tampa Tribune, "It is the second time a Pinellas County beach has received top ranking. Fort De Soto Park won the honor in 2005. Caladesi Island State Park, ranked second in 2007 and 2006, is a 600-acre island in the Gulf of Mexico, two miles off Dunedin. The undeveloped barrier island, dotted with palm trees and mangrove stands, resembles what coastal Florida used to look like."

I love Florida beaches, so I say bully for Caladesi. I hope it enjoys its new fame in the sun-and-sand spotlight.

But wait.

An interesting blog post by Eric Paiva on Hawaii magazine's Web site points out, "In the fine print, Dr. Beach says he excludes a beach from all future lists once it claims the no. 1 spot. Hawaii has taken the no. 1 spot on Dr. Beach's list 11 times in the list's 17-year-history."

I look at the list every year (who doesn't?), and I've often wondered what happened to those beaches of yore. So, basically, once they're been deemed the greatest, they disappear. Poof. Get outta here, ya crazy beach.

Isn't that misleading? Paiva certainly thinks so: "OK, Dr. Beach. We get it. You retired these fine beaches because otherwise Hawaii would be No. 1 pretty much every year. Kind of makes the list less useful, though, don't cha think Doc?"

I have to agree.

For the record, here's this year's list:
1. Caladesi Island, Clearwater
2. Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
3. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Fla.
4. Coopers Beach, Southampton, N.Y.
5. Coronado Beach, San Diego
6. Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.
7. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
8. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, N.C.
9. Cape Florida, Key Biscayne, Fla.
10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.

By John Deiner |  May 27, 2008; 3:03 PM ET  | Category:  John Deiner
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This list is such a total gimmick. This guy is hardly a serious scientist, and just does this to get a little press every year. If the list was the same all the time, wouldn't be very interesting, and who would notice??

Posted by: anon | May 27, 2008 3:51 PM

You mean Wildwood and Sea Isle City didnt make the list????

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 12:50 PM

It's a scam, I tell ya, a scam.

That being said, I just came back from Charleston and spent a day at Beachwalkers Park on Kiawah Island, SC. Lovely beach, but the restrooms could use a little tender lovin' care.

Posted by: Sandy | May 29, 2008 4:48 PM

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