And the Best Beach in America is…

Hapuna beach

Hawaii’s Hapuna Beach has claimed the top spot in Dr. Beach’s annual Top 10 Best Beaches in America list.

FIU Professor Stephen Leatherman — the man who has set foot to sand on every major beach in America — released the much-anticipated list this week, just in time for the unofficial start of summer.

The man known to many as Dr. Beach said Hapuna Beach stands out with its white coral sand among a landscape dominated by black lava rocks. During the summer, he says it’s the perfect place to swim, snorkel or scuba dive because of its crystal clear, clean water.

Students called him Dr. Beach and like sand, the name stuck

Leatherman has released his Best Beaches list every year since 1991 to promote and protect healthy, safe, good quality, family-friendly beaches. He uses 50 criteria scored on a five-point scale that he developed to scientifically rate and rank the beaches. Everything from clean water and sand to beach safety and management is taken into consideration. Bonus points are awarded for beaches that ban smoking. In fact, several beaches on the list are leading the way on this issue.

Leatherman, an FIU coastal scientist and professor in the Institute of Environment, has written 20 books and more than 200 articles for top journals including Science and Nature. He’s provided expert testimony for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on 11 separate occasions. He also served on a special commission under President Jimmy Carter to study all 650 beaches in the country. For more information about the Best Beaches list, please click here.

BONUS: Take the “What Beach Are You” BuzzFeed Quiz.