After this pandemic year, everyone could use a day at the beach.
The man known as "Dr. Beach," who has dedicated the last 30 years to determining the best beaches in the country, has revealed the 10 best beaches in the U.S. to visit for your next getaway.
Dr. Stephen Leatherman, who has a Ph.D. in environmental science and is Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, shared this year's top 10 list with Kerry Sanders exclusively on TODAY Thursday.
Leatherman visits every beach personally and rates them using a list of 50 criteria, including sand softness, water temperature, size of the waves, trash and litter, rip currents, lifeguards and noise.
This year's winner is Hapuna Beach State Park on the Big Island in Hawaii, a half-mile slice of white coral sand surrounded by black lava rock with clear water for swimming and snorkeling.
Hapuna Beach, which first earned Dr. Beach's No. 1 designation in 1993, is one of two beaches in the top 10 from Hawaii, a state long known for its beautiful shorelines.
"Hawaii has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country by far, some people think Hawaii should win every year, but I point out, the problem with Hawaiian beaches is a lot of them aren't safe," he told Kerry. "Big waves, rip currents, and shore breaks. Because of that, a lot of the beaches can't make the list."
Kerry visited another one of the top 10 beaches in his home state of Florida on TODAY Thursday, digging his toes into the sandy beach at Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin.
Here is the full list:
10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
9. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
8. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
7. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin, Florida
6. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
5. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina
4. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
3. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
2. Cooper's Beach, Southampton, New York
1. Hapuna Beach, Hawaii Island, Hawaii
Leatherman began compiling the list in 1991 for the now-defunct Travel Holiday magazine and has continued it every year. He's been to every saltwater beach in the United States.
"Well, somebody's gotta do it," he said. "Thing is, I get people that want to be my assistant and send me emails and say, 'Oh wow, let's travel together, have a great time.' They think that's all I do."
Last year's winner was Grayton Beach in the Florida Panhandle. Kailua Beach Park in Oahu, Hawaii, took the honors in 2019.
Six of the beaches in this year's top 10 have previously been No. 1, which include Coronado Beach (2012), Cooper's Beach (2010), Duke Kahanamoku Beach (2014), Caladesi Island (2008) and Ocracoke (2007), in addition to Hapuna Beach.