Cape Hatteras ranked No. 4 beach in U.S.

Posted May 28, 2010 7:08 a.m. EDT
Updated May 28, 2010 4:11 p.m. EDT

— The Cape Hatteras National Seashore was ranked fourth in annual survey of America's best beaches, which was released Friday to coincide with the start of the summer vacation season.

"This title is something we can all take pride in and enjoy together," Lee Nettles, managing director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, said in a statement.

Dr. Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research but better known as "Dr. Beach," has compiled the list of the country's top 10 beaches for the past 20 years.

Cape Hatteras has "some of the best board surfing along the East Coast,"  the "most famous lighthouse in the United States" and historic fishing villages, Leatherman wrote in his review.

"Nature lovers adore the excellent beach-combing and superb fishing," Leatherman said.

Tourism officials said Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks in general stand out as a good bargain.

"The great thing about Cape Hatteras is that it reflects the type of beaches you can find everywhere along the 130 miles of Outer Banks coastline," Nettles said. "If you like clean sands, lots of sun and affordable places to stay, the OBX is a smart choice for a family vacation."

This year's top beach was Coopers Beach in Southampton, N.Y., for its pristine white sand gently sloping toward a shoreline of lapping waves, convenient parking and amenities and nary a gum wrapper in sight. Non-residents have to pay a daily fee of $40 to visit the beach; those without a permit face a $250 fine.

Rounding out the top 10 beaches are Coronado Beach, Calif. (3), Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Honololu (No. 6), Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Mass. (7), Beachwalker Park in Kiawah Island, S.C. (8), Hamoa Beach in Maui, Hawaii (9), and Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, Fla. (10).

When rating the beaches, Leatherman considers 50 factors including water quality and temperature, cleanliness, weather, sand, safety and facilities.