Kailua Gets 'Top Beach' Award

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- After remaining a leading beach expert's No. 2 beach in the nation for two consecutive years, Kailua Beach Park on Oahu won the judge's Top Beach Award for 1998.

David Leatherman, an environmental studies professor at Florida International University in Miami, has conducted an annual ranking of the country's best beaches since 1991. "The powdery white sand, bed-and-breakfasts and plenty of parking helped Kailua on the island's windward side earn the top spot," he said.

"With its crystal clear water, this park is ideal for swimming. Coconut trees line the shore, creating a perfect place to relax and enjoy a day at the beach," he said, adding that it is an ideal place to learn to windsurf.

Of the beaches that made the Top 20 list this year, Florida has eight; Hawaii, six; New York and North Carolina, two each, and Massachusetts and California, one each.

The other five Hawaii beaches that made the Top 20 are the Big Island's Kaunaoa Beach (also known as Mauna Kea Beach), ranked second; Wailea on Maui (ranked fourth); Hamoa, at Hana, Maui (sixth); Hanalei, Kauai (eighth), and Poipu Beach Park, Kauai (20th).

Leatherman, also known as "Dr. Beach," bases his judging of the nation's public beaches on 50 criteria, including physical features such as sand and waves; biological factors, including water quality and wildlife, and human use and impact.

The top beach chosen each year is excluded from the list for 10 years.

Last year's top beach was Hulopoe on Lanai and, for 1996, Lanikai, adjacent to Kailua Beach.

Other previous winners were, for 1991, Kapalua, Maui; 1992, Bahia Honda State Recreation Area, Fla.; 1993, Hapuna, on the Big Island; 1994, Grayton Beach State Recreation Area, Fla., and 1995, St. Andrews State Recreation Area, Fla.

Leatherman's Web address is www.topbeaches.com.

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