Sat, Jun 05, 2010 - Page 16 News List

Long Island beach tops list of US’ best

Despite the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the annual scroll compiled by Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr Beach, includes two beaches in Florida

By FRANK ELTMAN  /  AP , NEW YORK

An annual list of the US’ top 10 beaches released last week includes two in Florida, with the list’s creator saying he’s not worried about pollution from the oil spill.

Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, who is also known by the friendly nickname Dr Beach, included Siesta Beach in Sarasota and Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, on his list of best beaches.

He said Cape Florida, on the southeast coast, “doesn’t get the wave activity” that can lead to tar balls washing up. As for Siesta Beach, he said he had looked at currents and believes “there’s very low probability the oil will get to southwest Florida.”

The number one beach on this year’s list is Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York, on the east end of Long Island. It offers pristine white sand gently sloping toward a shoreline of lapping waves, convenient parking and amenities and nary a gum wrapper in sight.

“New York has world-class beaches, but I don’t think a lot of people in the US know about them,” said Leatherman.

This is Leatherman’s 20th year of compiling a list of the country’s top 10.

Leatherman’s list also features another New York beach, Main Beach in East Hampton, Long Island, not far from Southampton. Main Beach takes the fifth spot on this year’s survey.

“When most people think of a beach vacation destination, they go south,” Leatherman said. “I kind of think the east end of Long Island is a well-kept secret for most Americans.”

Rounding out the top 10 are Coronado Beach, California (3), Cape Hatteras, North Carolina (4), Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Honolulu (6), Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts (7), Beachwalker Park in Kiawah Island, South Carolina (8), and Hamoa Beach in Maui, Hawaii (9).

Coopers Beach has been a contender for the top spot in recent years, but this is the first time a New York beach has made it to number one, Leatherman said. He considers factors like water quality and temperature, cleanliness, weather, sand, safety and facilities in making his list.

Once a beach makes it to the top spot, it is retired from consideration in future years, he said. Leatherman added that designation as the country’s No. 1 beach usually brings as much as a 20 percent bump in tourism.

“Both Main and Coopers beaches have been recognized in the past as being among the top 10 beaches in the country — and to now hold the top spot is especially significant when you consider the quality of the company we’re in,” Moke McGowan, president of the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a statement.

Main Beach was in the headlines in April after a baby whale washed ashore and had to be euthanized; thousands of onlookers visited the ailing mammal on the seashore while it struggled for life over several days.

Several kilometers away on Coopers Beach, the Hamptons’ hometown crowd spoke about the cleanliness of the beach and described it as a welcoming, family-oriented playground.

“It’s wide, the sand is like baby powder,” said Carol Gerbereux, a visitor for at least 40 years. “It’s just a beautiful location; it has wonderful facilities and it’s just a pleasure to come here.”

On the Net: www.DrBeach.org

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