Florida's Siesta Beach best in U.S. in 2011

Fri May 27, 2011 2:28pm EDT
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By Colleen Jenkins

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla May 27 (Reuters Life) - Dr. Beach has spoken: Siesta Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast ranks No. 1 among U.S. beaches for 2011.

Coastal scientist Stephen Leatherman, otherwise known as Dr. Beach, said the clean, clear water and hundreds of yards (meters) of fine, white sand lifted it to top billing on the 21st annual roundup of best beaches released on Friday.

"It's an idyllic place," said Leatherman, director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research in Miami.

His Top 10 list arrives just in time for, Memorial Day, the traditional kickoff of the summer beach season in the U.S.

Three Florida beaches made the cut this year, as did vacation destinations in California, Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts and the Carolinas.

Leatherman has selected the best public beaches since 1991 using 50 criteria to evaluate water and sand quality and safety and environmental management.

He doesn't get paid for his ratings and doesn't alert communities before he checks them out.

No beach has ever received a perfect score, he said.   Continued...

<p>Florida's Siesta Beach. REUTERS/Courtesy Sarasota County</p>