OUTER BANKS, North Carolina — Summer is coming to a close, but the top beaches in the United States are still beckoning.
For the No. 1 beach in the USA, travelers will need to book a trip to Oahu. Kailua Beach Park is the best US beach for 2019, according to coastal sciences professor Stephen P. Leatherman.
Also known as Dr. Beach, Leatherman has been releasing an annual list of the United States’ top beach destinations since 1991. Leatherman is director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University.
So what makes 2019’s No. 1 beach so special? Gentle waves lap the white sand coral beach at Kailua Beach Park in Oahu, and the swimming and kayaking are excellent here.
Kayak rentals are available so that you can paddle away to nearby offshore islands. The beach park also offers free parking, bathrooms, picnic tables and volleyball courts and there are lifeguards on duty.
Plus, beach showers mean you can freshen up a bit and head directly to the village of Kailua for beverages and a great meal.
Kailua Beach Park bumped fellow Hawaii shoreline — Kapalua Bay Beach in Maui — out of the top spot this year. In 2017, Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida, earned the No. 1 ranking. Hanauma Bay in Oahu was the top beach in 2016.
Leatherman evaluates beaches using 50 criteria — from sand softness and water temperature to rip currents, pests and litter.
North Carolina’s windswept Outer Banks received the No. 2 ranking for 2019 with Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach. Accessible only by boat, Ocracoke Island is an excellent spot for some truly undisturbed beach time.
At No. 3 on the 2019 list, Grayton Beach State Park in the Florida Panhandle boasts nearly 2,000 acres of exploration opportunities.
In addition to its pristine shoreline, the park offers cabins, campgrounds, more than four miles of coastal forest trails and Western Lake — a coastal dune lake — for fishing and paddling.
All of the top 10 US beaches — plus hundreds more — are hosting sun-and-sand seekers. It’s time to plan your end-of-summer escape.
Dr. Beach’s 2019 picks for best US beaches:
1. Kailua Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii
2. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
3. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida Panhandle
4. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
5. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
7. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Island of Hawaii
9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina