(Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 25, 2018)
Just in time for the unofficial start of summer, the man known as "Dr. Beach" has released his annual list of the top 10 beaches in the country.
But before we get to the winner, here's how it's decided.
Dr. Beach isn't some mai-tai sipping wanderer on a permanent vacation. His real name is Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman and he's a coastal scientist who has published 20 books and hundreds of scientific articles and reports about storm impacts, coastal erosion and ways to improve beach health and safety. Fifty criteria, including safety, water and sand quality, are used to pick the list of winners each year.
This year's top spot goes to Kapalua Bay Beach in Maui, Hawaii. Dr. Beach calls it "a secluded, crescent-shaped beach lined by palm trees. This small beach is protected from the oceanic waves by the 'arms' of lava flows, making it a great place for snorkeling with the plethora of beautiful tropical fish, which are just offshore of the white coral sand. Getting there from the main road is an easy drive through a golf course. There are showers and restrooms nearby; lunch and drinks can be purchased from the nearby Ritz Carlton. The only problem is the limited parking so arrive early to snag one of the spots."
The top 10 beaches of 2018:
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, Outer Banks of North Carolina
7. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina