In the 2018 Travelers' Choice Awards, Siesta Beach lost out on the No. 1 spot to Clearwater Beach.
Siesta Beach is no longer No. 1, according to one metric.
TripAdvisor ranked the beach No. 2 in the U.S. its 2018 Travelers' Choice Awards, behind Clearwater Beach. Siesta Beach did not make the list of top 10 international beaches.
In 2017, Siesta Beach was ranked the No. 1 beach in the U.S. on the same list.
Visit Sarasota President Virginia Haley said she’s not surprised the ranking went down.
“I would say that I’m actually more surprised that we’ve been able to sustain No. 1, and that we’re still up there at No. 2, because this is actual consumers with their rankings and their numbers,” she said.
The Travelers’ Choice Awards rank the beaches based on the quantity and quality of traveler reviews and ratings over 12 months. Siesta Beach has an average ranking of 4.5/5, with 80% of reviewers marking the beach as “excellent.”
Haley said Clearwater is much bigger and has many more visitors than Siesta each year, but Siesta is still able to compete.
“We still, year after year, have that high ranking because of the quality of the vacation,” she said.
Six Florida locales made the list of the top U.S. beaches, including St. Pete Beach. Only Clearwater Beach made the list of top international beaches.
In a release, TripAdvisor highlighted a reviewer’s comment about Siesta Beach:
“It gets very crowded so timing is important,” the reviewer said, after commending the beach for having lots of parking and a snack shop.
Residents on Siesta Key have long been concerned that the national and international attention drawn from rankings like TripAdvisor’s and Dr. Beach’s would overcrowd the small island. But Haley said during season, it’s always crowded, and residents have learned when to go to the beach and when to avoid it.
Another coveted ranking from Dr. Beach, or coastal geologist Stephen Leatherman, will come out in May. In 2017 Siesta Beach was No. 1 on his list as well, but Haley doesn't expect it to happen again.
Overall, Haley is pleased to be on the TripAdvisor list for another year because it speaks to the experience that residents and workers on the Key create.
“You get that ranking because of the people you meet on Siesta. It’s the hotel front desks, it’s the people that do the landscaping and keep the island so nice,” she said. “You can have the most beautiful beach in the world, but if people aren’t friendly and welcoming you’re not going to get that kind of ranking.”