Fleming Beach ranked No. 1 in nation
By JAYMES SONG
By JAYMES SONG
Fleming Beach Park, a mile-long crescent white sand beach on Maui's western shore featuring spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged shores of Moloka'i, was named America's best beach yesterday in an annual list.
Florida International University professor Stephen Leatherman, better known as "Dr. Beach," lauded Fleming for its year-round sunny weather, scenic views, pristine waters, and amenities such as showers, grills for barbecuing, snack bar, picnic facilities and ample parking.
"The west side of Maui always has beach weather. It's one of the sunniest places in the world, so it's hard to beat that," Leatherman said in a telephone interview. "What you call winter there everybody else calls a nice day."
Leatherman said visitors to Fleming, however, must use caution during the winter months when the surf and currents pick up.
"They have lifeguards there all the time, but if you're not a big-time swimmer and a big-time surfer, stay close to shore when the big waves are coming in," he said.
Fleming, in the posh resort town of Kapalua, was one of three Hawai'i beaches to make the Top 10 list compiled by Leatherman, director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research. Kaua'i's Hanalei Beach was No. 5; and Maui's Hamoa Beach was No. 9.
"If you could do a picture postcard of what people perceive Hawai'i to be like, Fleming Beach is a prime example," said Marsha Wienert, Hawai'i's tourism liaison and the former executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau. "It's got everything that you could ask for, quite honestly."
A Hawai'i beach has claimed the top spot on Leatherman's list for the 11th time in the study's 16-year history, including nine of the past 11 years.
"Let's face it, Hawai'i is our tropical paradise for America," he said. "It's where the mountains meet the sea. It's idyllic. The scenery there is fantastic."
Florida beaches earned the No. 1 spot for five years. California has yet to claim the top spot.
Leatherman said his national winners are retired from his list, so other great beaches will have a chance to share the limelight. He's not worried about running out of beaches.
"We have enough great beaches in America, we can give the praise around," he said.
On the Web: Dr. Beach: www.drbeach.org