Ocracoke Lifeguard Beach again ranks second on Dr. Beach’s annual top 10 list

Ocracoke Day Use Area is a popular Ocracoke Island destination because of its beautiful beach. Lifeguards patrol the beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day. [NPS photo]

Ocracoke once again ranks as one of the best beaches in the nation, but the Old Lighthouse Beach in Buxton has dropped out of the top 10.

“Dr. Beach” Stephen Leatherman

Stephen Leatherman, renowned coastal expert at Florida International University known as Dr. Beach, released his annual ratings of the ten best beaches in the United States on Thursday morning.

The Charlotte-native has been releasing his top 10 list since 1991 and uses 50 criteria in the evaluation process of swimable beaches. Factors include beach width at low tide, sand softness and color, wildlife, pests including mosquitoes, available amenities and public safety.

The 2019 list:
10. Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina
9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
7. Caladesi Island State Park Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
5. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
4. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
3. Grayton Beach State Park Florida panhandle
2. Ocracoke Lifeguard Beach
1. Kailua Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii

Last year, Ocracoke was ranked second and Buxton was sixth. Buxton’s highest ever ranking was fourth back in 2010.

Ocracoke topped Dr. Beach’s list in 2007, but can’t be rated number one again under Leatherman’s rules to give others a chance, and is the only North Carolina beach to ever top his list.

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Sam Walker was news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.