Stephen P. Leatherman, professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, earned his nickname. Since developing no less than 50 criteria for evaluating beach quality 20 years ago, "Dr. Beach" has been rating shorelines all over the world. What factors does he consider when determining a beach's worthiness? Water temperature, safety, and weather are all incredibly important, but he maintains that the most important single factor is water quality. "That’s the first thing people really ask for," he says, adding that Americans are fortunate because "most of our beaches in the United States are in very good shape."
We asked Leatherman were to go to get wet and he picked out the best beaches for swimmers in the country. Just remember to bring your floaties with you.
Coronado Beach, CA
"This is the warmest, cleanest water in Southern California," Leatherman says of Coronado. The water still isn't as comfortable as in places like Florida – high 60s is the norm – but the beach itself makes up for the inconvenience of having to wear a wetsuit. The sand contains mica, "so it shines, sparkles, in the sunlight." Nearby mansions and the famous Hotel del Coronado are gorgeous sights.
The city of Coronado is near San Diego, but the two cities are separated by the San Diego Bay. Coronado feels "a world away," according to Leatherman.
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