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.
Long Beach Island, NJ
"Long Beach Island has some of the clearest water I've seen in New Jersey," Leatherman says. The 18-mile-long barrier island has several beaches and communities to choose from, and the water temperature is ideal. "It's pretty much in the high 70s, maybe low 80s," Leatherman says. "Water temperature in Jersey is good." Leatherman also recommends making a stop at Barnegat Lighthouse, a beautiful spot on the northern tip of the island.
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