Stephen Leatherman has released his annual list of the best beaches in the country.
After falling off of one of the most popular annual lists of the top beaches, Siesta Beach has bounced back at No. 2.
Stephen Leatherman, a coastal geologist known as Dr. Beach, today announced his ranking of the top 10 beaches in the country for 2016. Siesta Key is home to one of three Florida beaches appearing on the list.
Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ann Frescura credits the ranking to the recent $21.5 million beach improvement project that improved amenities for visitors and residents.
“I think everyone recognizes what a special environment that it is,” Frescura said. “We’ve always been number one to us.”
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in Oahu, Hawaii took the first place position.
Leatherman uses 50 criteria to evaluate beaches including water and sand quality, safety and management.
In 2011 Siesta Key topped the list. Previous rules required that once a beach is ranked No. 1 it is retired from the list. This year the criteria has been adjusted to give “extra credit” to beaches that prohibit smoking. The list of best beaches is also beginning anew, giving previously ranked beaches a chance of making the list.
Among the reasoning listed for the ranking was sand described by Leatherman as the “some of the finest, whitest sand in the world.”
The beach was also applauded for its clear, warm waters, crescent shape and available space for outdoor recreational activities.
Frescura anticipates the ranking will impact visitors to the key and beach during what’s typically been a slower season.
“I think we can look forward to a strong summer of tourism,” Frescura said.