When it comes to U.S. beaches, it appears looks can be deceiving, according to a new report.
In its annual analysis out today, the Natural Resources Defense Council rated 200 popular U.S. beaches, after examining their violation rates and practices regarding bacteria testing and public safety.
For 2011, 12 beaches earned a five-star rating. Among them were Alabama's Gulf State Park Pavilion, Delaware's Dewey Beach and Texas' South Padre Island.
In the council's report, it also listed " repeat offenders," the nine beach areas in five states that for the last five years had exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended standard for bacteria levels.
Those included New York's Ontario Beach, Louisiana's Constance Beach and Wisconsin's South Shore Beach.
The council said the largest source of pollution was stormwater runoff.
"The 2011 results confirm that our nation's beaches continue to experience significant water pollution that puts swimmers and local economies at risk," the group said on its website.
The organization cautioned, however, that the label "repeat offender" did not mean the beach put the public at risk, just that the beachwater was of poor quality.
To find out how your beach ranks, enter your zip code here .