Siesta Beach named No. 1 beach in America
If you’re searching for a summer getaway filled with white sand and azure oceans, look no further: Siesta Beach reigns supreme.
So says Stephen Leatherman, aka “Dr. Beach”, whose annual list of the best beaches in America was once again topped by the local hotspot. Siesta Beach was originally ranked #1 by “America’s Foremost Beach Expert” back in 2011.
“Siesta Beach boasts that it has the finest, whitest sand in the world, which attracts sand collectors and beach lovers from all over,” Leatherman said in a statement. “(It) is not only a beautiful location for beachgoers, but it is also an environmentally healthy beach and offers first-rate beach safety for its visitors.”
Dr. Beach’s list is based on 50 criteria that include beach material, sand softness and water temperature. Siesta’s white-powder, 99 percent pure quartz sand earned it top marks.
Other beaches that made the list this year, in order of ranking, are: Kapalua Bay Beach in Maui, Hawaii; Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina; Grayton Beach State Park on the Florida Panhandle; Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York; Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod in Massachusetts; Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida; Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii; Coronado Beach in San Diego, California; and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Last year’s top beach was at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Siesta Beach ranked No. 2.
Out-of-towners Laura Louden and Kim Shawl, who both hail from Pittsburgh, weren’t surprised to hear the news about Siesta Beach.
“We come here on vacation every year – we’ve been around six or seven times now. It’s beautiful, it’s just perfect,” Louden said. She remembers seeing the beach being ranked No. 1 back in 2011. “That’s what drew us down here from the beginning. We wanted to see it for ourselves, so we started vacationing here.”
When beachgoers are asked for their favorite part of Siesta, a familiar theme arises.
“The sand and how cool it is. No matter how hot it is, it stays cool to your feet -- it’s so powdery,” Louden says.
Tyler Hewitt, who is visiting from Pennsylvania, agrees. He says that the sand here is “a lot different than the sand I’m used to.”
Will Vislocky lives in Hernando County. He says the two-and-a-half hour weekly drive he makes to come visit the beach while hanging out with friends is well worth it.
Suffice it to say that the ranking is a win for the tourism industry.
Virginia J. Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, noted the county’s decision to invest more than $21 million to “renovate the amenities offered at the beach,” in the form of additional parking spaces, a playground and extended picnic areas, seems to have paid off.
“These investments only add to the pristine beauty (of) Siesta Beach,” Haley said. “It is an honor for Siesta Beach to receive this recognition for a second time.”
The accolades are a source of pride for many locals. Barris Harrel, who has lived in Sarasota for the last 25 years, says that the honor makes him feel “special.”
“Living somewhere where a beach is No. 1, that means a lot,” Harrel said.
Siesta Beach topped a similar list in February that was put out by TripAdvisor, where it was named the Travelers’ Choice No. 1 beach in the United States, beating out Ka’anapali Beach in Maui and South Beach in Miami.