The Happiest and Healthiest Beach Towns in America

News flash: Being near the beach is good for you (says science!). But, according to a report, some beach towns might actually be better for your health than others. Gallup-Sharecare polled more than 337,000 people across the country on their life satisfaction—from physical well-being to the amount of time they spend worrying—and it seems saltwater therapy might actually pay off (plus a margarita every now and then—that helps, too!). Of the top 25 cities with the highest well-being, 10 of them are on the coast. See which beach towns made the cut:

10. Crestview – Fort Walton Beach Destin, Florida 

Beach umbrellas and deck chairs on beach, Destin, Florida, USA

World’s best beaches

TripAdvisor®, the travel planning and booking site, today announced the winners of its Travelers’ Choice® awards for beaches. The gorgeous Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos won the top honor as the best beach in the world this year, up from the number two ranking last year and reclaiming the top spot it held in 2016. Florida’s Clearwater Beach was the number one beach in America, up three spots from its U.S. ranking one year ago, and capturing the top spot in the country it held in 2016. Award winners were determined based on the quantity and quality of traveler reviews and ratings for beaches on TripAdvisor, gathered over a 12-month period.

 

 

“Soft sand, clear waters and balmy temperatures are common threads among these Travelers’ Choice award-winning beaches that have delighted millions of TripAdvisor reviewers across the globe,” said Brooke Ferencsik, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.

“The Caribbean and Florida stake claims as the most decorated on the world and U.S. lists respectively, and based on TripAdvisor price reports, travellers can still find outstanding value on warm-weather escapes to these popular beaches this year.”

To help travellers plan their next beach trip, TripAdvisor has identified highly-rated value hotels near the award-winning beaches this March as well as great round-trip airfare found on TripAdvisor over the next six months.

 

Top 10 Travelers’ Choice Beaches in the U.S.:

1. Clearwater Beach – Clearwater, Florida
About a forty-minute drive west of TampaClearwater Beach dazzles with two and a half miles of sugar-white sand, crystal-clear waters and tranquil Gulf breezes. Perched on a barrier island, the beach offers calm, shallow water, making it an ideal playground for families. “GREAT white sand beach … very long, so if you are a beach walker, you will be happy. There is nothing like FL white, silky, sand! I love it!” shared a TripAdvisor traveller

2. Siesta Beach – Siesta Key, Florida
Less than thirty minutes south of Sarasota, Siesta Beach on Siesta Key is renowned for its eight-mile stretch of sugar-fine, quartz-white sand. It’s also a great spot for kids to collect seashells and sand dollars.  “It is a very large beach that accommodates lots of people — it has lots of parking, picnic tables, BBQ, there is also a snack shop. It gets very crowded so timing is important,” added a TripAdvisor reviewer.

3. Ka’anapali Beach – Lahaina, Hawaii
Among the most visited beach in West Maui, this area is a popular spot for quiet relaxation or water sports. It’s also famous for the daily cliff diving ceremony off of the beach’s northernmost cliffs known as “Puu Kekaa” or Black Rock. According to a TripAdvisor reviewer, “Amazing this time of year. Right from the beach, we saw amazing whale breaches. The sand is amazing and the beach is well kept up!”

4. South Beach – Miami Beach, Florida
People watching is a great pastime in Miami’s South Beach, which draws celebrities and models. Travelers love the wide, fine, white sand-covered beaches as well as the surrounding area, known for wild nightlife and excellent restaurants. “Direct access to the beach! The promenade is always full of people walking, biking and strolling with their dogs and families. Very clean and well-kept area” wrote a TripAdvisor reviewer.

5. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve – Honolulu, Hawaii
Located on the southeast coast of Oahu, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is one of Hawaii’s most popular natural attractions. Travelers note that the beach is good for swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing and picnicking. According to a TripAdvisor user, “One of my favourite places to visit in Hawaii. I sincerely appreciate the staff’s every effort to preserve and respect marine/aquatic life. I would have given it a 5 star except for the very limited parking.”

6. Fort Lauderdale Beach – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
With miles of sun-kissed beachfront and an easy walk from many hotels, restaurants and activities, Fort Lauderdale Beach is a favourite among travellers. Families often rave about the beach’s cleanliness, warm water, on-duty lifeguards, and beautiful palm trees. “Nice place to enjoy the Atlantic breezes and take in the sun rays. It is beautifully maintained and very clean. Also, there are many establishments across the boulevard where you can have food and drinks,” wrote a TripAdvisor reviewer.

7. Saint Pete Beach – St. Pete Beach, Florida
Saint Pete Beach is famous for its golden-white sand and aquatic activities, such as parasailing, stand-up paddle boarding and windsurfing. This gorgeous, laid-back beach is also known for glorious sunsets. “The sand is soft and easy to walk on. The water was gentle and clean. The place is well-groomed and offers a huge expanse of play area,” commented a TripAdvisor reviewer.

8. Hollywood Beach – Hollywood, Florida
Hollywood Beach is well known as a family-friendly place due to the calm water, available bathroom facilities, live entertainment and the nearby restaurants across the large Boardwalk. “Hollywood Beach is clean and beautiful. The boardwalk is great for biking, walking, enjoying a meal or drink at a restaurant. Many places to stay right on the boardwalk,” added a TripAdvisor user.

9. Santa Monica Beach – Santa Monica, California
This popular beach is a favorite among television and movie producers and has a great surrounding area with its world-famous Pacific Park seaside amusement park. Travelers can soak up the sun on the three-mile coastline with mountain views and walking and biking paths. “It’s a lovely beach: large and spacious with great views up and down the coast. The breeze from the Santa Ana Winds always feels good,” wrote a TripAdvisor reviewer.

10. Lanikai Beach – Kailua, Hawaii
Located on the Windward Coast of Oahu, the name Lanikai means “heavenly sea,” and travellers rave about this small half-mile strip of beach. Beachgoers often take advantage of the many water activities, such as canoe tours, kayak rentals and snorkelling. “Another beautiful Hawaiian beach with golden sand, gentle breeze and surf, and amazing coral reefs just offshore,” wrote a TripAdvisor reviewer.

A person standing on the edge of a cliff by the sea with their arms outstretched

Top 10 Travelers’ Choice Beaches in the world:

1. Grace Bay – Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

2. Baia do Sancho – Fernando de NoronhaBrazil

3. Varadero Beach – Varadero, Cuba

4. Eagle Beach – Palm – Eagle Beach, Aruba

5. Seven Mile Beach – Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

6. La Concha Beach – San Sebastian – Donostia, Spain

7. Clearwater Beach – Clearwater, Florida

8. Seven Mile Beach – Negril, Jamaica

9. Bavaro Beach – Bavaro, Dominican Republic

10. Playa Norte – Isla Mujeres, Mexico

 

View of green hill shoreline from a sand beach

Dr. Beach’s top beach for 2014: (Hint, it’s in Hawaii)

By Mihran Kalaydjian, CHA

Marketing/Media Writer, Strategist and Consultant

 

Duke Kahanamoku Beach
Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

A Honolulu beach named for Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, the Olympic gold medal swimmer known as the “father of modern surfing,” has claimed the top spot in the list of annual “Top 10 Beaches 2014” released today by Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. ” Dr. Beach”. 

Hawaii and Florida beaches dominated the top 10. Surprisingly, no California beaches made the list. 

“The east end of Waikiki Beach is where all the big hotels are and that’s where most people go, but Duke Kahanamoku Beach is pretty far away, on Waikiki’s west end, near the Hilton Hawaiian Village,” said Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University in Miami. 

“It’s got the widest stretch of beach in Waikiki and is protected by an offshore coral reef, which makes it a good beach for families with children,” he said. 

For those who want to avoid ocean waves entirely, the nearby lagoon is also a popular spot for swimming. 

“It is also a great location to watch the Friday night fireworks,” added Les Enderton, executive director of the Oahu Visitors Bureau.

Kahanamoku Beach had the number two spot on Leatherman’s list last year and has been on the top 10 list often. What may have helped it snag the number one slot this year is that in January, Oahu made all beaches on the island non-smoking.

“Cigarette butts in the sand are disgusting,” said Leatherman. “Some people think beaches are a giant ashtray, and I don’t like that idea at all. When I go the beach, I go for nature. I don’t want to have to put my hand down on a cigarette butt someone else was smoking.” 

Leatherman has been making his annual Top 10 Beaches list since 1991 and uses 50 criteria, with rankings from 1 to 5, in his evaluation process of swimable beaches. Factors he takes into consideration include beach width at low tide, sand softness and color, wildlife, pests (such as ticks and mosquitos), available amenities and public safety. 

Once a beach reaches the top of the list, it is retired to make room for others. 

Starting next year, Leatherman plans to put extra emphasis on environmental management and beach safety and award bonus points for beaches that, like those in Oahu, are officially smoke-free.

“It’s not all just beauty,” said Leatherman. “People want clean water and clean sand. But they also want safety, parking and nearby amenities.”

Number two on Dr. Beach’s list this year is Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs, Florida., which moved up, after re-evaluation, from its number six slot in 2013.   

Located in a 342-acre county park, the beach is 8,200-feet-long and has small waves, shallow water “and if you like seashells, there are millions of them,” said Leatherman. 

Rounding out the top five are St. George Island State Park in Florida, Waimanalo Bay Beach Park in Oahu, and Hamoa Beach in Maui.

Dr. Beach’s Top 10 Beaches 2014

1. Duke Kahanamoku Beach
Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

2. Barefoot Beach
Bonita Springs, Florida

3. St. George Island State Park
Florida panhandle

4. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park
Oahu, Hawaii

5. Hamoa Beach
Maui, Hawaii

6. Cape Hatteras
Outer Banks of North Carolina

7. Cape Florida State Park
Key Biscayne, Florida

8. Coast Guard Beach
Cape Cod, Massachusetts

9. Beachwalker Park
Kiawah Island, South Carolina

10. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park 
Naples, Florida