America’s foremost beach expert, “Dr. Beach,” recently announced that he has judged two Collier County beaches to be among the 2015 top 10 beach destinations nationwide on his coveted list.
The 342-acre Barefoot Beach Preserve, which was No. 2 on Dr. Beach’s list, is one of the last undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s southwest coast. More than 8,000 feet of beach and sand dunes support the growth of sea oats, providing nesting sites for sea turtles. Barefoot Beach Preserve is located on Barefoot Beach Road off Bonita Beach Road.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, which was No. 9 on Dr. Beach’s list, offers some of the best shelling opportunities on the Gulf Coast. Visitors arrive to this park to sunbathe, snorkel the reef, hike, bird-watch, fish and picnic daily. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park is located off Gulfshore Drive.
Stephen P. Leatherman, a professor at Florida International University, has selected the top 10 beaches as Dr. Beach annually since 1991. Fifty criteria are used to evaluate beaches, which include water and sand quality as well as safety and management. More emphasis is being placed on environmental management and beach safety. Bonus points are awarded for prohibition of smoking on beaches.
The complete list of Dr. Beach’s 2015 best beaches is:
- Waimanalo Bay Beach Park in Oahu, Hawaii
- Barefoot Beach in Collier County, Florida
- St. George Island State Park in the Florida panhandle
- Hamoa Beach in Maui, Hawaii
- Cape Hatteras in the Outer Banks of North Carolina
- Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts
- Beachwalker Park in Kiawah Island, South Carolina
- Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in Collier County, Florida
- East Beach in Santa Barbara, California