HONOLULU (AP) — Cruising alongside the west facet of Hawaii’s Massive Island, the panorama is dominated by historic volcanic flows and jagged shorelines. Then you definately get to Hapuna Seashore.
There, the distinction of black lava rock, white sand and blue water means you have got arrived in paradise — at the very least that is what “Dr. Seashore” believes.
“It’s like an oasis,” mentioned Stephen Leatherman, who has been rating U.S. seashores on his annual record beneath the alias “Dr. Seashore” for 3 many years.
The sand “seems to be tremendous white there due to the black lava beside it,” he mentioned. “I feel the distinction makes you assume, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve by no means seen sand so white in my life.’ ”
Hapuna Seashore State Park was ranked one of the best seashore within the U.S. in Leatherman’s evaluate of sandy shorelines for 2021.
Leatherman, a coastal scientist and professor at Florida Worldwide College, hopes his thirtieth annual record will encourage folks to get out and depart the previous yr of pandemic struggles within the rearview mirror.
He acknowledged that folks should pay additional to get examined for COVID-19 earlier than coming to the islands. “Hawaii is a extremely particular place, and so I feel it’s price it,” he mentioned.
Kandi Miranda, who owns Manuela Malasada Firm and runs a meals truck close to Hapuna Seashore State Park, was born and raised on the Massive Island. She was in a position to keep open for locals all through the pandemic and is optimistic in regards to the return of tourists.
“There was loads of darkness at the moment, I imply everybody was closing,” she mentioned of the early days of the pandemic. “I needed folks to know that by means of good occasions and dangerous, we’d nonetheless be there.”
Miranda mentioned Hapuna Seashore is a robust place — each spiritually and actually. “It’s unapologetically magical,” she mentioned.
When the water is calm, it is an excellent place to be, Miranda mentioned. However when the ocean rises and large waves start to crash, it may be “actually harmful.”
“It is lovely, however there is a very robust undertow there,” she mentioned.
Rising up on Hawaii Island, a spot of lively volcanoes, towering waterfalls and large sea cliffs, she realized to respect nature.
“The ocean generally in our tradition is a extremely highly effective place,” she mentioned. “It’s extremely therapeutic, however you know how that we grew up, it provides nevertheless it takes away, proper?”
Leatherman agreed and mentioned that whereas Hapuna has a properly skilled group of lifeguards and is nice for swimming and snorkeling on calm days, the winter swells will be deceiving.
Rip currents trigger “the best lack of life that we’ve at seashores,” he mentioned. ”I’m attempting to present folks a greater understanding of rip currents as a result of lots of people don’t perceive them. They are saying ‘We will’t see them, then they’re in all probability not there.’ ”
Leatherman makes use of 50 standards to guage seashores, with an important classes being security and cleanliness.
Leatherman makes use of information from the U.S. Environmental Safety Company to grade the seashores on water high quality and has been to all the seashores on his record.
Seashores in Hawaii are persistently ranked excessive, and lately he has given them additional factors for prohibiting smoking.
“Initially, it’s a well being difficulty,” he mentioned of wafting cigarette smoke. “However the largest factor is disposal of the cigarette butts. Individuals have a look at seashores like an enormous ashtray.”
Cigarettes “are the primary type of litter when it comes to numbers,” Leatherman mentioned.
For the primary 25 years of rankings, any seashore that gained the highest spot on Leatherman’s record was ineligible for inclusion in subsequent years. However in 2015, Dr. Seashore cleared the slate to permit any seashore within the nation to as soon as once more be eligible, although new winners at the moment are being retired.
Final yr, Leatherman selected a seashore exterior of Hawaii as a result of, he mentioned, island lockdowns and quarantine guidelines made it almost inconceivable for folks to go to.
“I do know lots of people have been vaccinated,” he mentioned. “And so I feel this yr it’s wonderful for Hawaii to be on the record. And I encourage folks to go there.”
“You possibly can actually social distance on the Massive Island,” Dr. Seashore added.
Rounding out the highest 10 seashores on this yr’s record are: Coopers Seashore in Southampton, New York; Ocracoke Lifeguarded Seashore within the Outer Banks of North Carolina; St. George Island State Park in Florida; Lighthouse Seashore, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina; Duke Kahanamoku Seashore in Oahu’s Waikiki, Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin and Clearwater, Florida; Coronado Seashore in San Diego, California; Beachwalker Park in Kiawah Island, South Carolina; and Coast Guard Seashore in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
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