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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, May 26, 2001

Po'ipu Beach ranked best in nation

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Po'ipu Beach Park on Kaua'i ranks No. 1 in the annual survey of America's best beaches, according to a Florida professor known as "Dr. Beach."

The beach, renowned for its golden coral sand, crystal-clear blue water and pulsating surf, is one of six Hawaiian beaches to rank in the top 20 of the 11th annual survey announced yesterday.

"Hawai'i is America's paradise. It's where the mountains meet the sea," said Stephen Leatherman, a Florida International University coastal geologist who compiles the list as "Dr. Beach."

Florida scored with seven beaches in the top 20, sharing one with Alabama, while the rest of the best are found in North Carolina, New York, California, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Leatherman praised Po'ipu Beach for swimming, snorkeling and body-surfing and for its crystal-blue water with a visibility of 90 to 100 feet for divers. "The beach itself is a golden coral sand. It's beautiful," he said.

Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kaua'i Visitors Bureau, added: "It's a pretty safe beach and well cared for by the Po'ipu beach community."

She added that it has a pavilion, bathrooms and lifeguards, and that the waters are protected, which makes it great for children to learn to swim and for snorkeling.

The leading Hawai'i beaches include Ka'anapali (No. 3), Hanalei Beach (No. 4), Hamoa Beach (No. 7), Makena State Park (No. 12) and Hanauma Bay (No. 15).

Leatherman uses 50 criteria in three categories to rank the beaches, including sand size, water temperature, number of sunny days, wildlife and amenities such as nearby hotels and restaurants.

Hawai'i beaches have been No. 1 for six years. Last year, Mauna Kea Beach earned the top ranking.