Stephen Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research, put Hanalei Bay in Kauai at the top of his 2009 Top 10 list. Leatherman, in a news release, said he considers 50 criteria when he puts the list together, as he has every year since 1991.
Hawaii, Florida and New York each had two beaches on the list. While Leatherman called Hanalei his "favorite Hawaiian getaway," he put Hamoa Beach on Maui at No. 5.
Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Fla., came in second and Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne was ninth. Both New York beaches are on the eastern tip of Long Island: Coopers Beach in Southhampton in third place and Main Beach in East Hampton in sixth.
Also listed were Coronado Beach in San Diego; Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina; Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina.