CLEARWATER, Fla. - Caladesi Island State Park is one of two Florida beaches to make the annual top 10 list by "Dr. Beach" -- proving that the Sunshine State continually has some of the best sandy destinations in the country.
Stephen Leatherman, better known as "Dr. Beach," cited Caladesi's "crystalline quartz sand" and "sparkling clear waters" as reasons why the secluded spot is No. 6 on his list of top 10 beaches for 2020.
This year, another Florida beach took the top spot: Grayton Beach State Park in the Florida Panhandle.
Leatherman is a professor at Florida International University who has been reviewing, evaluating, and rating beaches and coastal areas all over the world for more than 25 years. Each year, he releases a list of the top 10 beaches in America.
To pick the best beaches, he judges each by 50 criteria such as average water temperature and softness of the sand. Leatherman says he gives bonus points for beaches where smoking is banned and that are staffed with lifeguards.
"Beaches are not big, giant ashtrays, and that's what some people use them for, which is really disgusting," Leatherman said.
Grayton Beach State Park won the list's top spot — even without a smoking ban — based on its sheer beauty. Beyond the sand, it has crystal clear emerald water, fresh water ponds that are a geological rarity and towering dunes that are unique along Florida's 1,350 miles of coastline.
Here's the full Top 10 list of 2020's best beaches:
1. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida Panhandle
2. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
4. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
5. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina
6. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
7. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
8. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
10. Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Last year, Caladesi Island State Park was ranked No. 7 on the list.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.