Looking for the best vacation beach ever? Kailua Beach Park on Oahu may just fit the bill. The Hawaiian beauty spot ranked No. 1 on the 10 best beaches list from Dr. Beach, a.k.a. Stephen Leatherman, a Florida coastal expert who looks at sand quality, water color and 48 other detailed criteria before making his selections.
“I love Waikiki Beach,” Leatherman recently told the Associated Press, “but Kailua is a lot smaller and quieter. You don’t have the big high-rises and all that.”
He also lauded the white-sand coral beach with generally small waves as a perfect spot for swimming and kayaking. You’ll find the beach in a town of the same name on the opposite side of the island from tourist-heavy Waikiki.
Two other Hawaiian beaches and one in California made the cut.
When it comes to Kailua Beach, locals reluctantly accept the top spot, largely because of concerns about overcrowding and tourists’ cars clogging neighborhood streets. The state’s tourism wing, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, does not promote Kailua Beach Park on its Go Hawaii website.
“This beach is pretty special to me just because my family has been coming here for years and years,” Braden Marquez, an 18-year-old who grew up in Kailua, told the Associated Press. “(My) biggest concern would be losing the locals because of the influx of people.”
California’s lone entry is Coronado Beach at No. 9, which Dr. Beach described as “the toast of Southern California; it is a veritable oasis by the sea, measuring hundreds of yards wide.”
Here’s the rest of Leatherman’s picks for the finest stretches of sand:
10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.
9. Coronado Beach, San Diego
8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Hawaii Island, Hawaii
7. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin, Fla.
6. Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, Mass.
5. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
3. Grayton Beach State Park, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
2. Ocracoke Beach, Ocracoke Island, N.C.