3 Florida Beaches in Dr. Beach's Top 10 for 2016


Walking on Caladesi Island

As a peninsula surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida, there is no shortage of beaches in Florida. Add in the state’s subtropical climate, and you have the perfect formula for fabulous beaches. Indeed, Florida boasts some truly gorgeous beaches. In fact, three Florida beaches made Dr. Beach’s 2016 Top 10 Beaches list: Siesta Beach, Grayton Beach State Park, and Caladesi Island State Park.

If you are planning a trip to Florida, be sure to include at least one of these stunning beaches on your itinerary!

Siesta Beach

Siesta Beach was ranked #2 on Dr. Beach’s Top 10 Beaches in 2016.

With its spectacular cool white sand and shallow, warm, emerald water, Siesta Beach is a true gem. It’s located on the west coast of Florida, on Siesta Key, and renowned for its incredibly fine, white sand.

The sand of most beaches is made of pulverized coral. However, Siesta Beach’s sand is made of 99% quartz, most of which is believed to have been carried down from the Appalachian Mountains. The quartz makes the sand so reflective that even on very hot days, it feels cool underfoot.

Siesta Beach has won numerous awards, including “the whitest and finest sand in the world” by The Great International Beach Challenge in 1987, “The Best Sand Beach in America” by The Travel Channel in 2004, “The Best Beach in America” by Dr. Beach in 2011, and “#1 Beach in the U.S.” by TripAdvisor in 2015.

Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach State Park was ranked #6 on Dr. Beach’s Top 10 Beaches in 2016 and remains one of the most popular beaches in Florida.

This 2200-acre park is located on the Gulf of Mexico and boasts pristine white sand, blue-green water, massive white dunes, tons of trails, plentiful wildlife, and Western Lake—a large freshwater lake. The landscape is truly unique, as part of the only ecosystem of its kind in the world.

Popular activities at Grayton Beach State Park include bicycling, birding, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, picnicking, wildlife-viewing, and more. The park is also a very popular camping spot, offering year-round camping with 34 rustic sites, as well as 30 two-bedroom cabins for rent.

Fortunately, there has been very little commercial development in the area, and the beach is quiet. Yet, the beach is close to the towns of Grayton Beach—a small, historic village—and the town of Seaside, both of which offer several great restaurants and accommodations.

Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island State Park was ranked #9 on Dr. Beach’s Top 10 Beaches in 2016.

Located on Caladesi Island, on the Gulf of Mexico, the park can be reached by pedestrian ferry or private boat from a dock on Honeymoon Island, or by walking northward from Clearwater Beach.

Caladesi Island State Park is famous for being unspoiled, and for its pristine crystalline quartz sand. In fact, it was named “America’s Best Beach” by Dr. Beach in 2008, and second-best beach by Dr. Beach in 2006 and 2007.

The park also features hiking trails that snake through dunes, in addition to kayak and canoe trails that take visitors through the mangroves where you can see large blue herons and other birds.

Recreational activities include shelling, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, picnicking, swimming, and snorkeling. The beach also offers a concession stand called Café Caladesi, which offers “casual style beach fare.”

Who is Dr. Beach?

Dr. Beach, known in real life as Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, is a professor and the Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. He has his Ph.D. in Environmental (Coastal) Sciences from the University of Virginia. Stephen has written or edited 16 books and has authored over 200 journal articles and technical reports, including articles in both Science and Nature. He has also provided expert testimony several times for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. 

Dr. Beach uses 50 criteria to measure beaches, including water temperature, sand softness, size of breaking waves, trash and litter, and buildings/urbanism.

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