After carefully evaluating 650 public beaches throughout the U.S., Stephen P. Leatherman (better known as "Dr. Beach") has kicked off the Memorial Day weekend 2003 by choosing America's Top 10 beaches.
Maui's Ka'anapali with its white coral sand and clear emerald-green waters, comes in as #1 this year, the ninth time a Hawaii beach has won that honor.
Florida's Fort DeSoto Park came in second. Rounding out this year's list are 3. North Carolina's Ocracoke Island; 4. Hawaii's Hanalei Bay; 5. Florida's Caladesi Island State Park; 6. New York's Main Beach in East Hampton; 7. Hawaii's Makalawena Beach; 8. Hawaii's Hanauma Bay; 9. Florida's Cape Florida State Park and 10. Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.
"Nothing restores the body and soul like a stay at the beach," he explained. "We are naturally drawn to the rhythmic pounding of the waves as if returning to our primordial beginnings."
The good doctor, who has picked the best beaches since 1991, calls what he does "one of the best jobs in America." With a stringent 50-point system, he rates water color, waves, sand, wind speeds, and more.
"I have received thousands of letters and phone calls from people wanting more information about beaches," explained Leatherman, a world-renowned coastal scientist and director of Miami's Florida International University International Hurricane Center.
In an effort to celebrate "Clean Water, Clean Sand," Dr. Beach has also promoted the Healthy Beaches Campaign for conservation and environmental responsibility. It's a way to protect the beauty of the ocean for future generations of frolicking.
"The sea," wrote poet T.S. Eliot, "has many voices."
And thanks to Dr. Beach, we can listen to their nuances ever closer.
The ocean is a constant miracle.