Travel

2 Carolinas beaches on '10 best' list

Cape Hatteras and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island have made the list in the 21st annual ranking of America's Best Beaches by Dr. Beach.

Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research, has produced the rankings since 1991, considering the quality of sand and water, cleanliness, scenery and safety issues.

And in another ranking of beaches posted in time for Memorial Day weekend, the Weather Channel has named Nags Head and Hilton Head as the best on the East Coast.

The No. 1 overall ranking this year from Dr. Beach went to Siesta Key, near Sarasota, Fla. Leatherman cited Siesta Key's white sand, clean beach and blue water. It marked the seventh time a Florida beach has been No. 1. Hawaii has produced 12 top beaches, with New York and North Carolina having one each. Ocracoke Island earned the No. 1 rankings in 2007.

Cape Hatteras was ranked No. 5 this year, and Beachwalker Park was seventh.

Leatherman said he likes Cape Hatteras because it provides "some of the best board surfing along the East Coast." He also cited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and fishing villages as attractions.

"Nature lovers adore the excellent beachcombing and superb fishing," he added.

Leatherman said Beachwalker Park is a great place for nature-lovers.

"Visitors should pack their canoes and kayaks to paddle through the tidal inlets, or walk down to St. Sam's Inlet to see thousands of birds," he said.

He also noted that beach sand is compact enough for bicycle riders. Leatherman also praised the Lowcountry seafood.

The Weather Channel ranked the top two beaches in five areas -- Florida, East Coast, Great Lakes, West Coast and Gulf Coast. Carolinas beaches swept the East Coast rankings, with the Weather Channel mentioning picturesque Jockey's Ridge as an attraction in the Nags Head area.

Dr. Beach's report: www.drbeach.org

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