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S. Fla. Beach Among Top 10 Best Beaches

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View of lighthouse framed by coconut palm trees; alongside aquamarine-colored Atlantic Ocean at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. (Photo source: floridastateparks.org)

View of lighthouse framed by coconut palm trees; alongside aquamarine-colored Atlantic Ocean at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. (Photo source: floridastateparks.org)

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SARASOTA (CBS4) — Forget about oil spills and algae blooms, three Florida beaches were named Friday by “Dr. Beach” to his Top 10 list of 2011 including one in South Florida.

Florida and Hawaii dominated the 2011 “Best Of” list compiled annually by Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research., who has been ranking sites for summer beachgoers for the past 21 years.

Siesta Beach in Sarasota took the top spot on the annual countdown, with Leatherman lauding the area’s wide, brilliant white sand beaches and warm, emerald water. Siesta Beach, 40 acres of almost pure quartz crystal sand on the Siesta Key barrier island, was runner-up in Leatherman’s rankings the past two years and was third in 2008.

“The sand is like sugar,” said Leatherman. “Some people can’t believe it. You have to bring sunglasses because it’s so bright. It’s super soft, super fine. They claim to have the finest, whitest sand in the world, and I can’t argue with that.”

St. George Island State Park in the Florida Panhandle took the No. 6 spot, while Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne snuck in at No. 10, the same ranking it held last year.

Leatherman ranks beaches on 50 criteria, including the look and feel of the sand, water quality, weather, facilities and crowds.

Once a beach reaches the pinnacle of Leatherman’s list, it is retired from consideration for future rankings.

A No. 1 spot on the popular list annual typically brings a 15-to-20-percent boost in visitors for the beach destinations.

Here’s this year’s entire list:

1. Siesta Beach
Sarasota, Florida

2. Coronado Beach
San Diego, California

3. Kahanamoku Beach
Waikiki, Honolulu

4. Main Beach
East Hampton, New York

5. Cape Hatteras
Outer Banks of North Carolina

6. St. George Island State Park
Florida Panhandle

7. Beachwalker Park
Kiawah Island, South Carolina

8. Coast Guard Beach
Cape Cod, Massachusetts

9. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park
Oahu, Hawaii.

10. Cape Florida State Park
Key Biscayne, Florida

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