The Best Beach in America Is Hawaii's Hanauma Bay

Philip Kahn, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Philip Kahn, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0 / Philip Kahn, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which means it's time to trade in the jackets and umbrellas of springtime for the swimsuits and sunscreen of summer. While we can all agree that pretty much any beach is a good beach, they're not all created equal. Each year, Florida International University professor Stephen P. Leatherman (a.k.a. "Dr. Beach") compiles a list of the best beaches in America based on 50 criteria, including sand color and softness, wind speeds, access, and competition for free use. Topping the 2016 list is the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

Leatherman writes in a press release [PDF] that among its many desirable qualities, Hanauma Bay is the location with the "best accessible snorkeling" in all of Hawaii. It also has lifeguards on duty, white sand, and no smoking allowed, which starting this year, earned beaches bonus points. 

The West Coast was only able to claim one slot in this year's top 10, while Hawaii nabbed two, Florida snatched three, and other East Coast states took the rest. Check out the full list below, and head to Dr. Beach's website to see all of the criteria used in the selection process.

1. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu, Hawaii
2. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida
3. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii
4. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
5. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
6. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida panhandle
7. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
8. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
9. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina

[h/t CNN]