America's Top Beaches 2013

There are plenty of beaches in the United States, but not all are created equal. What makes the "best" beach is very subjective, but there are certain aspects that make a beach beautiful and ideal to relax on.

There are plenty of beaches in the United States, but not all are created equal. What makes the "best" beach is very subjective, but there are certain aspects that make a beach beautiful and ideal to relax on.

The annual list of best beaches is compiled by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. He has released a list every year since 1991, and past winners are retired and listed on his website.

The beaches are chosen through 50 criteria of what the beach is like during vacation/holiday season, which include things like beach material (cobbles, coarse sand, fine sand), water temperature, wind speeds, wildlife, trash and litter, views and noise.

While there are, predictably, plenty of beaches from Hawaii and Florida present on the list, none of them took the top spot. Instead, the number one beach is located much further north and was heavily eroded just a few short months ago.

10. Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina

A public beach on the south end of Kiawah Island. According to Leatherman, the area is great for nature lovers, who can canoe, kayak, hike and bike around the area.

Photo courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

9. Coast Guard Beach Cape Cod, Massachusetts

The water temperatures only reach 60-70 degrees, but the area is picturesque.

Scenic trail at nearby Red Maple Swamp. Picture from NPS.gov.

8. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks of North Carolina

The first National Seashore, these beach provides great board surfing, fishing and historic fishing villages.

Photo credit: NC Tourism - Bill Russ

7. Cape Florida State Park Key Biscayne, Florida

The beach has white coral sand and a gentle surf since the waves are knocked down by a offshore sand shoal.

This photo of Key Biscayne is courtesy of TripAdvisor

6. Barefoot Beach Bonita Springs, Florida

Gentle surf and shallow water makes this beach perfect for families. Plus, it’s 8,200 feet long and located in a 342-acre park.

This photo of Barefoot Beach Preserve is courtesy of TripAdvisor

5. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii is famous for its beaches and this one made the list because it is a safe beach. It is rare to see big waves or experience dangerous currents, plus lifeguards are present.

Aloha-Hawaii.com

4. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii

The ideal Hawaiian beach, Hamoa is surrounded by cliffs and palm trees and can be reached by driving the famous Road to Hana. The sand is a mixture of lava sand and coral.

Mauiguidebook.com

3. St. George Island State Park, Florida

The sand here is powdery and super white and pathways can take you across the dunes to the bayside. There are stingrays in the water and visitors can go birding and fishing.

This photo of Saint George Island State Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

2. Kahanamoku Beach, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

Even though the beach is named for a gold medal Olympic swimmer credited with introducing surfing to the outside world, the beach is protected from big waves by offshore reefs.

Aloha-Hawaii.com

1. Main Beach, East Hampton, New York

The rich and famous frequent this beach on eastern Long Island. And while Superstorm Sandy took a toll on the beach last year, it has largely recovered.

DrBeach.org