He’s Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a Florida International University professor and coastal expert. He’s spent longer than 30 years studying storm impacts, beach erosion and ways to improve beach health and safety. He’s known as “Dr. Beach.” Since 1991 he’s been rating America’s beaches and publishing his Top Ten.
This year Dr. Beach has placed two of Hawaii’s beaches on his list. At Number Two, he has Hanalei Beach on the island of Kauai. If you’ve seen the 1958 movie “South Pacific,” Hanalei Beach is where much of it was filmed. The island of Bali Hai is a landform just across Hanalei Bay from the pier where much of the action takes place. Number Seven is Hamoa Beach at Hana on Maui. James Michener, who wrote “Tales of the South Pacific” on which “South Pacific” was based, described Hamoa Beach as “…the only beach I’ve ever seen that looks like the South Pacific was in the North Pacific.”
Dr. Beach uses fifty criteria to determine his rankings. They include things like sand quality, amenities and the presence of birds (good) and bugs (bad).
Hawaii beaches always score well with Dr. Beach. In fact, in the 18 years he’s been ranking beaches, Hawaii beaches have been Number One 11 times