Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach is number one in the 32nd annual Top 10 Beach List, produced by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, professor at Florida International University.
Ocracoke is an idyllic island far off the North Carolina mainland with the pristine beach being part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Often called the pearl of the Outer Banks, the village of Ocracoke is characterized by delightful inns, the iconic 1823 lighthouse, a legendary herd of once wild ponies, and a serene British cemetery; it is also the destination of choice for pirate lovers, being the stomping grounds of Blackbeard. This is my favorite getaway island, boasting 16 miles of undeveloped beach and American beach grass-covered sand dunes. The Ocracoke Express Passenger Ferry is now operating, making it a car-free way to explore the area; I enjoy riding a bicycle or renting a golf cart. Families will enjoy the early summer when the waves are smaller with the surfers catching the swell waves later in the season.
As “Dr. Beach“, Leatherman has selected the annual Top 10 Beaches since 1991. Fifty criteria are used to evaluate beaches, which include water and sand quality as well as safety and management. Dr. Leatherman is an internationally known coastal scientist who has published 20 books and hundreds of scientific articles and reports about storm impacts, coastal erosion and ways to improve beach health and safety.
Bonus points are awarded for prohibition of smoking on beaches, and Cape Hatteras National Seashore is leading the way by keeping their beaches clear of cigarette butts—putting two beaches in North Carolina on the Top 10 list.
Previous National Winners are retired and listed on here.
TOP 10 BEACHES 2022
- Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach – Outer Banks of North Carolina
- Caladesi Island State Park – Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
- Coopers Beach – Southampton, New York
- St. George Island State Park – Florida Panhandle
- Duke Kahanamoku Beach – Oahu, Hawaii
- Lighthouse Beach, Buxton – Outer Banks of North Carolina
- Coronado Beach – San Diego, California
- Wailea Beach – Maui, Hawaii
- Beachwalker Park – Kiawah Island, South Carolina
- Coast Guard Beach – Cape Cod, Massachusetts