Trio of Florida locations among Dr. Beach’s top 10 best beaches in America for 2017

Sarasota's Siesta Beach wins the No. 1 spot for the second time, with two state parks rounding out the list.
Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota tops Dr. Beach's top 10 list of the best beaches in America for 2017. [Tampa Bay Times file photo]
Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota tops Dr. Beach's top 10 list of the best beaches in America for 2017. [Tampa Bay Times file photo]
Published Dec. 14, 2017|Updated Dec. 14, 2017
Three beaches in Florida made it on a highly coveted list of the top 10 in America this year, ranked by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. “Dr. Beach.”

Siesta Beach in Sarasota took the No. 1 spot while Grayton Beach State Park in the Panhandle came in at No 4. Caladesi Island State Park in Pinellas County landed at No. 7.

Siesta Beach won the top spot for the second time for its "finest, whitest sand in the world," and its "clear, clean waters along this gently-sloping beach-face" which make it ideal for swimming, according to a news release.

As "Dr. Beach," Leatherman has selected the top 10 beaches every year since 1991. Leatherman, a geoscientist and coastal ecologist at Florida International University, evaluates each beach on more than 50 criteria, including water, sand quality, safety and management.

Leatherman's list is internationally known and among the most prestigious awards a beach destination can win, tourism officials say. This year's list was first announced in May.

Once a beach or destination is ranked No. 1 on Dr. Beach's top lists, it couldn't win it again until Leatherman changed the rules last year. Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County was No. 1 in 2005. Caladesi Island State Park was named the No. 1 in 2008.

"It is an honor for Siesta Beach to receive this recognition for a second time," says Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County in a statement. "The investments by Sarasota County to improve the amenities offered at the beach have paid off with this No. 1 ranking.

Since holding the No. 1 spot in 2011, Sarasota County invested more than $21 million to renovate the amenities offered at the beach. These include additional free parking spaces, a playground, extended picnic areas and more."

Top 10 beaches

  1. Siesta Beach, Sarasota
  2. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii
  3. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
  4. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida Panhandle
  5. Coopers Beach, Southampton, N.Y.
  6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.
  7. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater
  8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
  9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, Calif.
  10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.