Dr. Stephen Leatherman, also known as "Dr. Beach," has been reviewing and ranking beaches for over 30 years, and just recently came out with his annual list of America's Best Beaches.
This year, Ocracoke Island's Lifeguarded Beach in Outer Banks, North Carolina earned the No. 1 ranking, moving up from the third spot in 2021.
Leatherman uses 50 criteria, including beach width, sand softness, water temperature and color, to evaluate 650 public beaches throughout the United States, according to CNN Travel.
He is a professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, and told CNN Travel that Ocracoke Island's Lifeguarded Beach checked all the boxes for what he looks for in a beach.
"I like this area because it has the three things that you must have to make a great beach: clean sand, clean water and beach safety," Leatherman said.
Leatherman called Ocracoke Island's Lifeguard Beach his "favorite getaway beach."
"Here you will find some of the wildest beaches in the country. Big surf dominates in late summer so families with children may want to come earlier in the year," Leatherman wrote. "Don’t expect to play golf or stay at the Ritz; the main pursuits are swimming and beachcombing."
The Dr. Beach website says that Leatherman also preaches beach safety, as he tries to bring awareness to the dangers of rip currents and promotes no smoking at beaches. He said that the Outer Banks gets bonus points for no smoking and well trained lifeguards.
The rest of Dr. Beach's rankings for 2022 included another Outer Banks beach, two in Florida, two in Hawaii, and one in each of California, Massachusetts, New York, and South Carolina.
"We're lucky, here in the United States we really have hundreds of beautiful beaches... and these are just the top 10," Leatherman said.
Here is the rest of the list:
2. Caladesi State Island Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, FL
3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, NY
4. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
5. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, HI
6. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks, NC
7. Coronado Beach, San Diego, CA
8. Wailea Beach, Maui, HI
9. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC
10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, MA