Florida's Caladesi Island is the best U.S. beach in 2008, according to an annual list compiled by a Florida professor known as "Dr. Beach."
Caladesi's relatively remote Gulf of Mexico location factored into Florida International University professor Stephen P. Leatherman's ranking.
"It's an island getaway," said Leatherman, who studies changing coastlines and has released his annual list since 1991. He noted that despite being in the densely populated Tampa Bay area, many nearby residents have never visited Caladesi.
The runners-up on the list are Hanalei Beach, Hawaii; Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida; Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York; Coronado Beach in San Diego; Main Beach in East Hampton, New York; Hamoa Beach, Hawaii; Cape Hatteras, North Carolina; Cape Florida State Park near Miami; and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Caladesi's fine, white quartz sand beach owes its creation to a 1921 hurricane, which separated it from nearby Honeymoon Island. Caladesi became a state park in 1968.
Caladesi, which ranked second in Leatherman's rankings in 2007, will now be retired from the list. Most years, he has chosen beaches in Florida or Hawaii as the top-ranked. He broke that trend last year by awarding the top spot to Ocracoke Island on North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Leatherman compiles his list as part of the National Healthy Beaches Campaign.