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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 28, 2004

Hanauma named best U.S. beach

By Matt Sedensky
Associated Press

O'ahu's Hanauma Bay has earned the No. 1 spot in an annual ranking of America's best beaches.

Associated Press

Hanauma Bay, a flooded volcanic crater and favorite snorkeling spot, has been named the best U.S. beach.

The bay ascends to the top of the 14th annual rankings out today from Stephen Leatherman, the Florida environmental scientist known as "Dr. Beach."

"It's a perfect little jewel," said Leatherman, a professor at Florida International University.

Hanauma Bay has appeared on the list a number of times in the past, and Hawai'i beaches have topped the list all but once in the past nine years.

Last year's national winner was Ka'anapali Beach on Maui. Once a beach earns the top ranking, it is excluded from the survey.

Leatherman says he visits more than 100 beaches each year, using a 50-criteria system to rate everything from sand color to water clarity, parking to wave levels.

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2004 rankings

1. Hanauma Bay
2. Fort De Soto Park, Fla.
3. Ocracoke Island, N.C.
4. Caladesi Island State Park, Fla.
5. Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.
6. Hanalei Bay, Kaua'i
7. Crescent Beach, Siesta Key, Fla.
8. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.
9. Cape Florida State Park, Fla.
10. Coronado Beach, Calif.