Dr. Beach – Top 10 US Beaches for 2019
About Dr. Beach: Stephen Leatherman is a coastal scientist and professor at Florida International University and has been drafting the list under the alias “Dr. Beach” since 1991. Leatherman uses 50 criteria to evaluate beaches, with the most important categories being water cleanliness, safety and management of the beach environment and its facilities. Leatherman uses data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to grade the beaches on water quality and has been to all the beaches on his list.
Here are the top 10 beaches for 2019 as named by Dr. Beach.
Big Island’s Hapuna Beach is in the top again! Kailua (the other Kailua) Beach Park is number one.
- 10. Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina
- 9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
- 8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
- 7. Caladesi Island State Park Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
- 6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
- 5. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
- 4. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
- 3. Grayton Beach State Park Florida panhandle
- 2. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
- 1. Kailua Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii
Mainlander Version: “Hey, it is Hawaii. I just Googled best beaches on Big Island and found that Hapuna Beach is one of the top-ranked beaches in all of the islands – Let’s go there.”
Hawaiian Version: Hāpuna means ‘spring’ or ‘pool’ in Hawaiian. Hapuna translates as ‘Ha’ (the breath, the life) and ‘Puna’ (the spring, the place). A part of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail runs through the park from Spencer Beach to the north, to Puako to the south. It is a wonderful, large beach to share with ‘ohana and visitors.
Hāpuna Beach Description: Landscaped beach park with swimming during calm seas, bodysurfing during periods of shore breaks, sunbathing and other beach-related activities, picnicking and shelter lodging opportunities.
Hapuna Beach State Park Information
Hapuna Beach State Park: Dangerous rip currents and pounding shore breaks during periods of high surf! Waves over 3 feet high are for experts – all others should stay out of the water and away from the shoreline! Lifeguard services. Hiking opportunity along the coastal trail. (61.8 acres)
Hapuna Beach Information: Hapuna Beach Hours: 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, daily
Entrance Fee Out-of-State Independent Visitor Fee: $5 per visitor vehicle parking fee.
Commercial PUC Tour Vehicle:
1-7 passenger vehicles: $10
8-25 passenger vehicles: $20
26 or more passenger vehicles: $40
Directions To Hapuna Beach: It is a scenic drive, north from Kona along the coastline.
Going north from Kona, Follow HI-19 to Hapuna Beach Road for about 40 min (30 miles). Turn left on Hapuna Beach Road to arrive at Hapuna Beach.
Dr. Beach writes, “Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is one of the best beaches in America. Driving along the coastal highway from the airport, you wouldn’t think there are any beaches at the water’s edge of this bleak landscape dominated by black lava flows, much less any world-class beach resorts. The beautiful coral sand beach at Hapuna seems incredibly white, partly because of the sharp contrast with the black lava that flanks and bounds this half-mile pocket beach. During the summer months, the beach swells to over 200 feet wide, and the fine coral sand makes for a flat beach that gradually slopes into the offshore waters. Hapuna Beach is a perfect place to swim, snorkel or scuba dive in the crystal clear waters or enjoys land-based activities on the flat, hard-packed beach. During big wave days in the winter, the pounding shore break and powerful rip currents make swimming impossible. People ride the rapidly moving, whitewater swash of the broken waves up the beach face on boogie boards; the key is to stay in very shallow water so that you are not swept back into the ocean.”
Hapuna Beach Camping Rentals: Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area rents 4-person A-Frame shelters. These shelters consist of a single screened room with wooden sleeping platforms and a picnic table and allow you to enjoy the best beach in Hawaii. Centrally located in the shelter complex is an enclosed pavilion with a range, refrigerator, and tables. Comfort Stations with cold showers and restrooms are available for shared use by all shelters. Smoking, including E-cigarettes, and the use of tobacco products in State Parks, is prohibited.
Hapuna Beach Online Camping Reservations: Check-in: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Check-Out no later than 10:00 a.m. Hāpuna Beach Camping Rates: Hawaii Residents: $30 per shelter per night. Non-residents: $50 per shelter per night.
Hapuna Beach Trail Name: Ala Kahakai Trail (Kawaihae-Anaehoomalu)
Hapuna Beach Concession Open Daily: Three Frogs Cafe (snack bar) at the Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area is open daily from 10am-4pm, serving fish tacos, burgers and salads, tropical smoothies and shave ice. They also offer beach rentals of boogie boards, beach
chairs and umbrellas, and snorkeling gear.
Hapuna Beach is adjacent to the Westin Hapuna Beach Hotel