Survey reveals best ‘secret beaches’ in US

21 May 2023

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A recent survey asked families which hidden beaches they want to visit most this summer, and more than a dozen states made the list. surveyed 3,000 adults in the United States across ages, genders, and geography. It’s no surprise that a Hawaii beach took the top spot – as well as two other spots in the top 10.

Florida and California, with their massive coastlines, were also well represented.

Surf’s up! Florida beach named nation’s best in annual ranking

Further down the list, inland states were even recognized for their hidden spots. Oklahoma, Iowa, Vermont and Tennessee aren’t exactly known as beach destinations, but – according to survey respondents – all have idyllic lakeside beaches worth a visit.

The top 25 “secret beaches,” according to the poll, are:

Hawaii – Awahua Beach

Florida – Shell Key Preserve

Hawaii – Lanikai Beach

Hawaii – Kauapea Beach

New Jersey – Sedge Island

Florida – Lovers Key State Park

California – Salt Creek Beach

California – Wildcat Beach

Florida – Dry Tortugas National Park

Florida – Boneyard Beach

Hawaii – Gray’s Beach

California – Hollywood Beach

Florida – Navarre Beach

Hawaii – Pa’ako Cove

Virginia – Sandbridge Beach

Texas – San Jose Island

Florida – Crescent Beach

South Carolina – Kiawah Island

New York – Amsterdam Beach Preserve

Alaska – Lowell Point Beach

California – Enderts Beach

California – Bowling Ball Beach

Florida – Caladesi Island

Georgia – Driftwood Beach

California – Gray Whale Cove Beach

The survey resulted in a full list of 100 “secret” beaches. (You can read more here.)

The survey results come around the same time as the university professor known as “Dr. Beach” revealed his list of 2023 favorites. This year’s top 10 list marks the 33rd year Stephen Leatherman, professor in the Department of Earth & Environment at Florida International University, has rated the best of America’s 650 public beaches.

A 9-mile stretch of Florida sugar-white sand on St. George Island is the nation’s best beach for 2023, according to the annual ranking.

Leatherman uses 50 criteria to evaluate beaches including sand type, wave action, whether lifeguards are present, presence of wildlife, the level of development and crowding, and many other factors. Extra credit is given to beaches that forbid cigarette smoking, mainly because of the need to prevent discarded butts. None were seen during a recent visit to St. George Island, he said.

The rest of Dr. Beach’s top 10 choices are:

St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle

Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York

Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida

Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina

Coronado Beach, San Diego

Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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