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Clearwater Beach named No. 1 beach in the country by TripAdvisor

Blue skies bring out beach goers to Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach last month. Clearwater Beach was named the No. 1 beach in the country, according to the TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
Published Feb. 18, 2016

For the second year in a row, a beach along Florida's West Coast has been named the best in the country, according to the TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards.

This year, Clearwater Beach took the No. 1 spot.

Take that, Hawaii.

Each year, travel booking and planning website TripAdvisor ranks the world's greatest beaches based on the quantity and quality of traveler reviews and ratings on its site for a 12-month period. The No. 2 beach on the list this year is Lanikai Beach on Oahu in Hawaii. St. Pete Beach was ranked fourth.

Honored for its 21/2 miles of "powdery sand and calm, shallow water," Clearwater Beach is listed as a great vacation spot for its pedestrian-friendly Beach Walk Promenade and lively scene at Pier 60. According to TripAdvisor, Clearwater Beach "has it all" with a mix of beach scenes, water sports, restaurants and hotels.

Clearwater Beach also cracked the Top 25 beaches in the world list at No. 20. It's the only beach from Florida to make that list.

"TripAdvisor is close to the highest award you can get," said David Downing, executive director of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, Pinellas County's tourism agency. "It really does validate what we already know — that our beaches are fabulous. To have them both recognized on this list is a huge feather in the cap for our destination."

Last year, Siesta Beach in Sarasota County won the title of No. 1 U.S. beach and St. Pete Beach was No. 2. Clearwater Beach came in eighth. This year, Siesta is No. 3.

Several other Florida beaches made the list in 2016, including Pensacola Beach (No. 7), St. Augustine Beach (No. 9) and Panama City Beach (No. 10).

Pinellas County beaches are no strangers to top beach awards. USA Today ranked Clearwater Beach the No. 2 best beach in Florida last year, and in 2013 it was the No. 1 best beach town. In 2008, Caladesi Island State Park was named the No. 1 beach by Dr. Beach (whose real name is Stephen Leatherman) of Florida International University. Once a beach or destination is ranked No. 1 on Dr. Beach's top lists, it can't win it again. Fort De Soto was No. 1 in 2005.

Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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