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Hawaii: Dr Beach crowns Hanalei Bay winner of Best Beach 2009

The winner of this year’s eagerly awaited America’s Best Beaches Awards goes to Hanalei Bay on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

The much-lauded Dr Stephen Leatherman (aka ‘Dr Beach’) bestowed this spectacular crescent-shaped beach found on Kauai’s north coast, the top spot for 2009. Thanks to exotic palm trees, three kilometres of white sand and a dazzling backdrop of waterfalls, Hanalei Bay has been the inspiration for paintings, photo shoots and films for over 50 years, including the 1958 musical South Pacific. Hanalei Bay has been a previous contestant in Dr Beach’s awards, however, 2009 is the year when it finally received the honour of being named the ultimate beach in the USA, beating off Siesta Beach in Florida and Cooper Beach in New York.

This relatively undiscovered area of Hawaii is perfect for swimming, snorkelling and surfing. The clear emerald waters are ideal during summer, whilst the surf tends to pick up at other times of year.
The relaxed village of Hanalei offers simple dining and drinking spots, with one of the best views of the beach from the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas. Dr Beach is America’s most quoted authority on beaches. As the Director of the Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, he is considered the expert of what makes a beach ‘the best’.

The hotly-contested awards are eagerly awaited by travellers and tourism officials across the USA and worldwide each year. Past winners include Hanauma Bay on Oahu and Fleming Beach on Maui, as well as North Beach in Florida and Ocracoke Beach in North Carolina. The awards began in 1989 and once a beach is awarded first place, it is ‘retired’ from future lists. Fifty criteria are used to evaluate the beaches, which include water and sand quality, safety, facilities and environmental management. What makes Dr Beach’s selections so unique is his expertise as a coastal scientist with more than 30 years of experience studying storm impacts, erosion and ways to improve beach health and safety.
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23 July 2009
By: Alice MacKinnon
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