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Florida Beach Named Best in America by Dr. Beach


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 22, 2008)  Coastal expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. “Dr. Beach,” has named Caladesi Island State Park in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area America’s Top Beach for 2008. Leatherman unveiled his internationally-recognized list of the Top 10 U.S. Beaches live via satellite from Caladesi Island State Park this morning. 


“Caladesi is my favorite getaway beach; the only mode of transportation on this lovely island, dominated by palm trees, is by foot,” said Leatherman. “This is a great place to decompress while enjoying the powder white sand and warm, crystal clear water.”


Two other Florida beaches honored by Leatherman this year include third-ranked Siesta Beach, near Sarasota, and ninth-ranked Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, near Miami.


“We are proud of Dr. Beach’s designation of Caladesi Island State Park as best beach in the United States,” said Governor Charlie Crist. “This recognition acknowledges a remarkable area of the state. With more than 1,200 miles of unparalleled coastline to explore in Florida, it isn’t surprising that three Florida beaches have impressed Dr. Beach and made it into his top 10 list.” 


Leatherman, who is the director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, has made a Memorial Day Weekend tradition of unveiling his list of America’s finest strands of sand and surf.


Local tourism officials were equally enthusiastic. “To have Dr. Beach name Caladesi Island America’s top beach is a tremendous honor,” said DT Minich, executive director of Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. “Especially since this is the second time one of our beaches has made it to number one on his list.” 


Caladesi Island State Park is the sixth Florida beach to receive the top spot on Dr. Beach’s list since its inception in 1991. St. Petersburg/Clearwater area’s Ft. De Soto Park was also awarded Leatherman’s top honor in 2005. Others include St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Port St. Joe in 2002, St. Andrews State Recreation Area in Panama City in 1995, Grayton Beach State Recreation Area, between Panama City and Destin, in 1994 and Bahia Honda State Recreation Area in the Florida Keys in 1992.


“Beach and waterfront activities consistently rank among the top three activities for domestic visitors to Florida” said Nicki Grossman, Chairman of the board of directors of VISIT FLORIDA. “But then we Floridians have always known life’s a beach.”


For more information on the Sunshine State’s many diverse beaches, consumers can log onto and read specialty blogs on Beach & Surf, Arts & Culture, Boating & Fishing, Shopping & Nightlife, Family, Authentic Florida, Smart Travel, Golf, Outdoors and Adventure. The site also includes videos, photos, interactive maps and a “My Trip Planner” feature that allows users to easily develop customized Florida vacation itineraries.


To see video of Caladesi Island State Park, America’s best beach, log onto To obtain the code that will allow you to embed a copy of the video on your web site, log onto [Back to Press Releases Main]