ST. PETERSBURG — St. Pete Beach has been named the best beach in the nation based on Tripadvisor’s annual Travelers’ Choice rankings, moving up from its second-place spot in 2020.
It beats out beaches in Hawaii, California, and even other beaches in Pinellas. Madeira Beach was ranked ninth, Treasure Island Beach 16th and Clearwater Beach at the 18th slot.
St. Pete Beach last took home the top spot in 2012, according to Visit St. Pete-Clearwater. Their website credits the award to the white sand beaches, warm gulf waters, beautiful sunsets and uncrowded space.
Beverly Ackah, 25, and Franklin Okomba, 31, are both big fans. The Seattle visitors left snow behind when they made their trip to Pinellas.
“You guys don’t know what you have here,” said Okomba, soaking up the rays on Tuesday.
Steve Hayes, president and chief executive of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, said he thinks having the space to spread people out along the Pinellas beaches helped earn the award in a year plagued by coronavirus. Hayes said Tripadvisor told him the rankings also took into account where people most want to visit.
“When you look at four beaches in the same destination in the top 25, nowhere else on that list can you find that,” Hayes said.
It was the first year that Treasure Island and Madeira Beach made the list, showcasing local “hidden gems,” he said.
Globally, St. Pete Beach was ranked the fifth-best beach by Tripadvisor. It is the only beach in the continental United States to make the global list.
“I just think it continues to raise our awareness as an international destination,” Hayes said. “And if they start exploring further they’re gonna find out there’s three more beaches that are ranked in the top 25 in the U.S.”
Tripadvisor calls itself the world’s largest travel guidance platform. Each year the company puts together user-submitted reviews and rankings and honors them in the Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best awards. Along with beaches, the website ranks restaurants, national parks, popular destinations, emerging destinations and more.
Here are Tripadvisor’s top 10 beaches.
1. St. Pete Beach, St. Pete Beach, Florida
“A great walking beach with white quartz sand, clear calm water, and seashells by the truckload. The most perfect place to watch the sun set over the ocean.”
2. Ka’anapali Beach, Lahaina, Hawaii
“This beach is so gorgeous and accessible to everyone. There’s easy parking and a wonderful path to walk on along the beach with showers to clean off. You can hang out on the soft sand, go for a walk, snorkel, swim or paddle board in the clear, calm waters. It’s truly paradise!”
3. Moonstone Beach, Cambria, Calif.
“Beautiful beach and a great place to look for moonstones and jade. When the tide goes out you can explore the tidepools ... magical!”
4. Wailea Beach, Wailea, Hawaii
“The walkway along Wailea Beach offers breathtaking views of the Maui coast. Whether on a quick walk or quiet stroll, the beauty of the area abounds. You might even see whales right offshore!”
5. Cannon Beach, Cannon Beach, Ore.
“This beach is breathtaking and vast - both long and deep! Haystack Rock at low tide is incredible with all the tide pools and sea creatures. Make sure to bring a sweater, it can be cold and windy!”
6. Napili Beach, Lahaina, Hawaii
“This little cove is a hidden gem. There’s a small natural reef about 30-50 yards in, and tons of marine life living on it. This was the best snorkel experience I have had.”
7. Ogunquit Beach, Ogunquit, Maine
“This beach is impeccably clean, and has a smooth, sandy floor. At low tide the beach is probably the widest beach ever. At high tide you can walk out hundreds of feet and still be only waist high.”
8. Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana, Hawaii
“This black sand beach (produced by volcanic activity on the island) is otherworldly along the beautiful coastline.”
9. Madeira Beach, Madeira Beach, Fla.
“Very nice, flat beaches. The beach is very clean - we even saw a beach Zamboni used to groom it each morning. You can enjoy a very nice walk on the beach for miles.”
10. Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, Hawaii
“Kailua offers plenty of everything: sand, wide open space, fewer crowds, and a good park to go with it. This beach is awesome, coming from a guy who grew up on an island.”
Photographer Martha Asencio Rhine contributed to this report.