A sands-down winner: Coronado Beach named best beach in America

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

Want to go to the No. 1 beach in America this Memorial Day weekend? It’s closer than you think.

Coronado Beach in Coronado, Calif., snagged the top spot in Dr. Beach’s Top 10 List 2012. It’s the first time any California beach has taken top honors since the list began in 1991. The beach doc who makes the annual pronouncements is really Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research.

“The beach is popular for swimmers, surfers, sunbathers and beachcombers,” Leatherman writes about the San Diego-area spot. “The beach is very flat, making it great for skim boarding and walking, and the sand has a silvery sheen because of the presence of mica.”

But Leatherman looks beyond pretty. He weighs 50 criteria that include water quality, sand texture, public safety and environmental issues.

Kahanamoku Beach Waikiki in Oahu, Hawaii, came in No. 2 followed by:

-- Main Beach in East Hampton, N.Y.;
-- St. George Island State Park in the Florida panhandle;
-- Hamoa Beach on Maui, Hawaii;
-- Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Mass.;
-- Waimanalo Bay Beach Park in Oahu, Hawaii;
-- Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, Fla.;
-- Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, S.C.; and-- Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, N.C.

The 1.5-mile strip of Coronado Beach runs along Ocean Boulevard in Coronado, past the historic Hotel Del Coronado. Locals know it as three sections: North Beach, Central Beach -- that includes the main area in front of the Hotel Del -- and the Shores, the southern part good for body boarding and long boarding.