A 9-mile (14-kilometer) stretch of Florida sugar-white sand in an unspoiled pure setting alongside the Gulf of Mexico is the nation’s finest seashore for 2023, in accordance with the annual rating launched Thursday by the college professor referred to as “Dr. Seaside.”
The state park on St. George Island simply off the Florida Panhandle drew the highest honor from Stephen Leatherman, professor within the Division of Earth & Setting at Florida Worldwide College. This 12 months’s prime 10 checklist marks the thirty third 12 months Leatherman has rated one of the best of America’s 650 public seashores round Memorial Day, the standard begin of summer time.
St. George Island is ceaselessly on the checklist. However this 12 months what set it aside from others is its pure magnificence, lack of improvement, plentiful actions together with fishing, swimming, kayaking, biking, tenting and an unparalleled view of the night time sky for stargazers, Leatherman stated.
“There’s simply so many issues that seize my creativeness there,” Leatherman stated in an interview. “It’s an idyllic place.”
The park covers about 2,000 acres (810 hectares) on the east finish of the island, which is linked by a bridge to the mainland throughout Apalachicola Bay, famed for its oysters. The opposite sections of the island include a small village, eating places, rental properties and motels, however not an entire lot else.
And that’s the way in which Leatherman likes it.
“Individuals can have one of the best of each worlds there, simply miles and miles of unspoiled seashores,” he stated.
The island has been battered over the a long time by tropical storms, most lately by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. That lethal Class 5 storm made landfall about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest in Mexico Seaside, however packed sufficient punch to stage many St. George Island sand dunes and injury park services equivalent to picnic pavilions and restrooms.
“Since that point, workers and volunteers have made nice strides towards getting the park again to regular,” park officers stated on its web site.
In 2005, a 153-year-old lighthouse on close by, uninhabited Little St. George Island collapsed into the Gulf resulting from storms and erosion. It was rebuilt on the principle island after volunteers salvaged 22,000 of the unique bricks and located the Nineteenth-century plans on the Nationwide Archives. The brand new location means individuals can extra simply trek to the highest for a panoramic view.
Leatherman makes use of 50 standards to judge seashores together with sand sort, wave motion, whether or not lifeguards are current, presence of wildlife, the extent of improvement and crowding, and lots of different components. Additional credit score is given to seashores that forbid cigarette smoking, primarily due to the necessity to stop discarded butts. None had been seen throughout a current go to to St. George Island, he stated.
“I needed to give them extra credit score for that,” Leatherman stated. “I believe individuals are coming round to the viewpoint that our seashores are a few of our best leisure areas. You’ll be able to go to the seashore and you are able to do so many issues.”
A second Florida Gulf coast seashore, Caladesi Island State Park close to Clearwater and Dunedin, ranks fourth on the checklist this 12 months. It’s reachable primarily by ferry and personal boat, or an individual may stroll a reasonably long way there from Clearwater Seaside relying on the tides. Regardless of the identify, Caladesi isn’t a real island any longer as a result of an inlet closed off, Leatherman stated.
“The white seashore consists of crystalline quartz sand, which is delicate and soft on the water’s edge, inviting one to take a dip within the glowing clear waters,” he stated.
Caladesi has boardwalk nature trails and kayaking by way of mangroves which can be house to quite a few species of fish, birds and different animals.
Hawaii positioned three seashores on the checklist, greater than another state. Florida was subsequent with two.
Right here is Dr. Seaside’s full 2023 prime 10:
1. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
2. Duke Kahanamoku Seaside, Oahu, Hawaii
3. Coopers Seaside, Southampton, New York
4. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
5. Lighthouse Seaside, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina
6. Coronado Seaside, San Diego
7. Wailea Seaside, Maui, Hawaii
8. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
9. Poipu Seaside, Kauai, Hawaii
10. Coast Guard Seaside, Cape Cod, Massachusetts