Edit ModuleShow Tags

Front Pages


(page 1 of 7)

san diego beach at low tideLow Tidings

Our beaches suck. So says Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. “Dr. Beach,” who each year ranks the nation’s beaches based on criteria such as water temperature (he likes it warm), crowds (he likes them small) and sand quality (the whiter and finer, the better).

In Leatherman’s latest ranking, only one San Diego beach even makes it into the top 50: Coronado Beach, by the Hotel del Coronado, clocks in at No. 32. “I like the fact that it’s a very wide beach, and it’s a clean beach, as far as I can see, with no litter washing up,” Leatherman says. “And as far as the water goes, it’s about as warm as it gets in San Diego.”

It’s a telling last line. Beaches along the San Diego coastline—and all of Southern California, for that matter—get knocked down chiefly for their water temperature, which is a lot cooler than at higher-rated beaches in Florida (15 beaches in the top 50) and Hawaii (12 beaches).

“Your water is pretty nippy by East Coast standards,” Leatherman says. “Also, your beaches tend to have big waves, your sand is not lily-white, and the bottom is often very dark. At the beaches in Florida and Hawaii, the bottoms are much lighter-looking, and that’s more inviting to swimmers. The water at your beaches makes you worry a little more, because you can’t see the bottom. But at least you don’t have those shark attacks like they do farther north around Monterey, those great whites stalking you.”

Gee, consider us lucky.

San Diego beaches do have things working in their favor, Leatherman concedes. “You’ve got the Mediterranean climate, of which the rest of us are envious,” he says. “You don’t have mosquitoes or hurricanes, and you have the scenery—the cliffs that frame the beaches are really spectacular.”

Even so, Leatherman says, for his money, “It’s hard to beat the warm, clear water and white coral-sand beaches of Hawaii and Florida”—like top-ranked St. Joseph Peninsula State Park on the Gulf of Mexico, in the Florida Panhandle. “It’s got sugar-white sand, the finest, whitest sand in the world,” he enthuses. “It’s got emerald-green water with visibility to 90 feet, it’s got towering sand dunes, and the beach itself is a big, curving sand spit that goes on for 20 miles, with every kind of accommodation you’d want—even wood cabins in the park—and all sorts of nature, like wolves, deer, foxes and eagles soaring through the air.”

Leatherman boasts impressive credentials: He’s chair professor and director of the International Hurricane Center & Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. Thrust into the role of “beachologist” in 1989 by a travel writer who asked him for a list of the nation’s top 10 beaches, Leatherman was encouraged by the response to develop 50 criteria and embark on a two-year survey of 650 beaches throughout the United States.

Every Memorial Day weekend since 1991, Leatherman has released America’s Best Beaches, a detailed ranking and description of 50 celebrated shorelines (each winner is “retired,” so there’s a new No. 1 every year). San Diego beaches have never fared well, with the exception of Children’s Pool in La Jolla, which in the early 1990s briefly cracked the top 20.

“This was a great little beach for kids because it was not exposed to the big waves, and it was also quite pretty,” Leatherman says. “But then the sea lions moved in and the beach was closed. They crap in the water, and what can I say—that’s a problem.”

America’s Best Beaches is now available in book form through Leatherman’s Web site, www.drbeach.org.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

San Diego Thanksgiving Guide 2015

Where to dine out, order catering, buy pies, and turkey-trot your way through the holiday

Be Seen This Fall in Rancho Mirage

Enter To Win a 2 Night Stay Package at The Luxurious Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa

Bosa’s Big Idea

How the sale of homes in San Diego is providing shelter for people in the Philippines
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Dear Chargers, It's Over
    A pre-emptive breakup letter to the team we love
  2. Healthcare Goes High-Tech
    Dr. Eric Topol is putting health care in the palms of our hands
  3. Be Seen This Fall in Rancho Mirage
    Enter To Win a 2 Night Stay Package at The Luxurious Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa
  4. Growing Up in San Diego
    26 memories of being a kid in America's Finest City
  5. Incoming: Liberty Public Market
    San Diego's big public market unveils three big new concepts
  6. FIRST LOOK: Duke's La Jolla
    For decades, Top of the Cove in La Jolla held one of the most iconic restaurant spots in San Diego. Now they've finally filled that space. Take an exclusive first look at Duke's La Jolla.
Edit ModuleShow Tags


October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Win Dinner for Two at Black&Blue Steakhouse

Win dinner for two at Black&Blue Steakhouse and $25 in Free Slot Play at Valley View Casino

MADE IN AMERICA — Craft Icons of the 50 States

MADE IN AMERICA is the last exhibition in Mingei International Museum’s American Icons series, celebrating 100 years of folk art, craft and design from coast to coast.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags