Make us your home page
Instagram

Caladesi Island rises to top on Dr. Beach's list

Coastal scientist Stephen Leatherman likes wide, soft beaches that are family friendly and unspoiled by development.

Tourism marketers drool over the promotional possibilities of Leatherman, otherwise known as Dr. Beach, designating their stretch of sand as the finest in all the states.

Their interests intersected 2 miles off the north Pinellas coast Thursday when Leatherman named Caladesi Island State Park as the top pick in his list of America's best beaches for 2008.

The 3-mile-long island — with its powdery sand, kayak trails through thick mangroves, abundant wildlife and remote location — inched up his list for a decade, most recently as second best the last two years.

On Thursday, the Florida International University professor called Caladesi his favorite getaway beach in six live interviews from the beach on MSNBC.

He happily repeated it to newspapers, local television and radio. Today, he's scheduled to chat via satellite with 35 television programs from Portland, Ore., to New York City.

Leatherman grades beaches on 50 criteria, from physical attributes to biology to safety, on a scale of 1 to 5. In 18 years of compiling the list, no beach earned a perfect 250. Caladesi got a "real high" score of 239, he says.

The beach has lifeguards, few rip currents and not a pickpocket in sight — all good for safety. Caladesi's sand is fine-grained and bleach-white, not yellowish and pebbly like beaches renourished with sand dredged up offshore. Another big plus, says Leatherman.

The island's cafe and bath houses are nice touches. Cars, condos and crowds don't intrude on nature. "You've got to kind of figure out how to get here," he says. The only drawbacks: a little too much seaweed in the swimming areas and lots of hungry bugs.

Those annoyances don't get much time in his interviews or in the marketing Pinellas and state officials will unleash.

Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing agency, sent out 100,000 e-mails Thursday trumpeting Caladesi as well as No. 3 Siesta Key near Sarasota and No. 9 Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne. The agency also ponied up $54,000 for a truck, a crew of 14 and the satellite time to beam Dr. Beach interviews to television stations.

This spring, the travel Web site TripAdvisor.com picked Fort De Soto as the nation's top beach. The combination of respected independent endorsements for two local beaches is unprecedented, says D.T. Minich, Pinellas tourism director.

He's already ordered promotional totes with TripAdvisor and Fort De Soto on one side and Dr Beach and Caladesi on the other.

Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3384.

Caladesi Island rises to top on Dr. Beach's list 05/23/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 23, 2008 10:09am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]