Every year, a professor at Florida International University, Stephen Leatherman, known as Dr. Beach, ranks all of the beaches in the United States and comes up with a Top Ten. Most of these beaches are well-known and full of tourists. But one beach turns up on the list most years, and is much less famous than the others, although just as beautiful.
That beach, where coincidentally we’re at on vacation right now, is St. George Island. We spend the week before Memorial Day here; part of the reason is because of the beauty, part of it is because of the seclusion. The island is located about an hour or so due south of Tallahassee in a part of Florida known as the Forgotten Coast. Why don’t tourists come here in droves?
Well, there is only one hotel here and it has about twenty rooms, I’d guess. So, for teens and those in their 20s who are looking to meet the skank of their dreams, this wouldn’t be ground zero. Also, since the island is a breeding ground for sea turtles, there is a lights out policy at 10:00, and people are discouraged from going to the beach at night when the turtles are laying and hiding their eggs. So, most of the people here are either older couples or families with young kids.
Each year, we get about 100 yards of beach for myself, Mrs. Arriba, and the dogs. Oh, did I mention that the island is dog-friendly? The only rules are to pick up after your dogs and have them under your control.
The island was famous/notorious for a while. Howard Stern used to have a contest where the winner got free plastic surgery from a doctor who had his clinic here. The women who availed themselves of his services would exercise by walking up and down the beach throughout the day. Their gravity-defying bodies were a source of entertainment to the rest of us.
I’m getting ready to go to the beach now, but before I do, let me just say this. Dr. Beach has one of the sweetest gigs in academia. He travels to each of the beaches across our three oceans and ranks them on his own criteria. Here is his Top 10 this year:
1. Coronado Beach, Coronado, California;
2. Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii;
3. Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.;
4. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle;
5. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii;
6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.;
7. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii;
8. Cape Florida State Park near Miami.;
9. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.;
10. Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.
Here are some more photos of this paradise: