This Beach Was Just Rated the Best in the U.S.

Dr. Beach, aka Stephen Leatherman, has been reviewing the country's best beaches for over three decades.

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We're all itching to get off the couch and onto the nearest beach possible now that travel is an actual reality again. But before you spring on a flight to Florida, listen up: Stephen Leatherman—aka the guy that's been reviewing the country's best beaches every year since 1991—just named this year's number one destination for sun and sand. 

Hawaii's Hapuna Beach just landed that coveted number one spot on the 2021 Dr. Beach ranking, with Cooper's Beach in Southhampton, New York, the Outer Bank's Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, and St. George Island in Florida trailing shortly behind. 

"This white coral sand beach resides in a landscape dominated by black lava flows," Leatherman said of Hapuna Beach, which is located in Big Island Hawaii. "During the summer months, Hapuna is a perfect place to swim, snorkel, or scuba dive in the crystal clear and clean waters, but big waves during the winter can generate powerful rip currents. Fortunately, there are well-trained lifeguards at this state park." 

Dr. Beach releases a ranking of the top 10 beaches in the US every year, assessing each beach according to 50 criteria, from sand softness to water temperature and even water color.

Here's the full list for 2021: 

1. Hapuna Beach State Park—Big Island, Hawaii
2. Coopers Beach—Southampton, New York
3. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach—Outer Bank, North Carolina
4. St. George Island State Park—Florida Panhandle
5. Old Lighthouse Beach—Buxton, Outer Banks, North Carolina
6. Duke Kahanamoku Beach—Oahu, Hawaii
7. Caladesi Island State Park—Dunedin, Florida
8. Coronado Beach—San Diego, California
9. Beachwalker Park—Kiawah Island, South Carolina
10. Coast Guard Beach—Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Past national winners include Grayton Beach in Florida's panhandle, and Kailua Beach Park and Kapalua Bay Beach in Hawaii. 

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.