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Siesta Beach tops Dr. Beach's rankings of best locations in America

This May 18, 2017 photo shows Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fla. Siesta Beach is No. 1 on the list of best beaches for the summer of 2017 compiled by Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, a professor at Florida International University. [Chris O'Meara | Associated Press]
Published May 25, 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 Caladesi Island State Park in Pinellas County landed at No. 7. Grayton Beach State Park in the Panhandle came in at No 4.

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 press 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.

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 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 number one 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. These investments only add to the pristine beauty of Siesta Beach."

Previous Coverage: Tampa Bay tries to stand out in wave of lists and rankings

Pinellas County beaches are no strangers to top beach awards. TripAdvisor ranked Clearwater Beach No. 1 and St. Pete Beach No. 4 on its 2016 list of top beaches in its annual TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice 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.

Here are the top 10 beaches:

1. Siesta Beach, Sarasota

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

2. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

3. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

4. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida Panhandle

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

5. Coopers Beach, Southampton, N.Y.

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

7. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, Calif.

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

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