Dr. Beach ranks Grayton Beach, Caladesi Island among America’s best beaches

Grayton Beach State Park, near Santa Rosa Beach in the Panhandle, moved up to No. 3 in Dr. Beach’s annual list of the top 10 beaches in America. Caladesi Island State Park near Dunedin was No. 7.
Grayton Beach State Park, near Santa Rosa Beach in the Panhandle, moved up to No. 3 in Dr. Beach’s annual list of the top 10 beaches in America. Caladesi Island State Park near Dunedin was No. 7.
[Florida Beach Insider photo]

Two Florida state parks earned spots in Dr. Beach’s annual list of the world’s top 10 beaches for 2018.

Grayton Beach State Park in the Florida Panhandle came in at No. 3, up one spot from last year. Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin came in at No. 7, the same as 2017.

Dr. Beach, or Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, is a professor and director for the Laboratory of Coastal Research at Florida International University. His annual lists have been released since 1991 in the days before the Memorial Day weekend.

Dr. Beach cited transportation, scenery and activities as factors behind his rankings.

“This beach boasts of its sugar-white sand and emerald green water where development has been restrained so big sand dunes still dominate the landscape,” he wrote of Grayton Beach State Park, between Destin and Panama City Beach.

Leatherman cited the “crystalline quartz sand” and “sparkling clear waters” of Caladesi Island State Park for it’s ranking.

"There are boardwalk trails, but my favorite is the kayak and canoe trails through the mangroves to see the large blue herons and other birds that frequent this wonderful natural area," he wrote. (Read our travel guide to Caladesi Island State Park here.)

Siesta Key, ranked No. 1 in 2017, did not make the cut in 2018. Kapalua Bay Beach in Maui, Hawaii, earned the top spot.

DR. BEACH’S 2018 TOP 10

  1. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii
  2. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
  3. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida panhandle
  4. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
  5. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  6. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outerbanks of North Carolina
  7. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin, Florida
  8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
  9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
  10. Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina