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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 1:34 p.m., Friday, May 24, 2002

Hanalei loses to Florida on beach list

By Vicki Viotti
Advertiser Staff Writer

Let's not be selfish.

Oh, why not be?

Sue Kanoho wrestled with her reaction to word that St. Joseph Peninsula State Park of Florida "Some junk beach!" Kanoho quipped beat Hanalei Bay Beach for No. 1 in the annual "America's Best Beaches" list.

She's prejudiced, of course. Kanoho is executive director of the Kaua'i Visitors Bureau.

"We're excited to see we're back in the top five," she said diplomatically. "We're sad to see Poipu off the list, of course, but we've got to share."

Poipu Beach was retired from consideration after becoming last year's winner.

Hawai'i really has little cause for complaint about the list, compiled by Stephen P. Leatherman, a professor at Florida International University in Miami.

Hanalei ranked second; on Maui, Ka'anapali and Hamoa beaches placed third and seventh, respectively; and Hanauma Bay was last in the top 10.

Other also-rans: Fort DeSoto Park in St. Petersburg, Fla. (4); Caladesi Island State Park, Fla. (5); Ocracoke Island, N.C. (6); East Hampton Beach, N.Y. (8); and Florida State Park (9).

It was the first time in six years that a beach from Florida topped the rankings, which have given Leatherman the nickname "Dr. Beach."

Known to locals as "St. Joe’s," the Panhandle beach juts offshore from the mainland, far from urban areas, and makes for a scenic drive. It also has campsites that include cabins and rental houses.

"Nature abounds in this picturesque coastal park," Leatherman said.

The annual ratings are based on 50 stringent criteria that cover almost every measure of beach health, including sand quality, water temperature and presence of litter. Leatherman’s list also is based on personal visits and constant contact with naturalists, park rangers and scientists around the nation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.