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In Kailua, the sand is soft and white, the water is clear and calm, and the view is exactly what you would expect from a beach in the Hawaiian Islands.
Those are among the reasons Oahu's Kailua Beach Park has been selected as the best stretch of sand for an annual list of top U.S. beaches.
Stephen - Leatherman - Scientist - Professor - Florida
Stephen Leatherman, a coastal scientist and professor at Florida International University, has been drafting the list under the alias "Dr. Beach" since 1991.
Leatherman uses 50 criteria to evaluate beaches, with the most important categories being water cleanliness, safety and management of the beach environment and its facilities. Leatherman uses data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to grade the beaches on water quality and has been to all the beaches on his list.
Beaches - Hawaii - Top - List
Beaches in Hawaii are consistently ranked high, sometimes at the top of his list.
"I love Waikiki Beach. No question about that—a world-famous beach—but Kailua is a lot smaller and quieter," Leatherman said. "It's so much more peaceful. ... You don't have big high-rises and all that. Kailua is on the other side of the mountains. It's like a different world."
Years - Leatherman - Credit - Beaches - Prohibit
In recent years Leatherman has been giving extra credit to beaches that prohibit smoking, which all Oahu beaches do. He thinks other beaches around the state and country should follow suit.
Leatherman also looks for powdery soft white sand, something Kailua Beach Park has in abundance.
Vari - Singh - Family - Oahu - Los
Vari Singh and her family were visiting Oahu from Los Angeles and spent a day in Kailua.
"The color of the sea is something like we've never seen before. The sand is super soft and fun to play with, it makes good sandcastles," she said as her daughter wiped sand from her face. "And the scenery is beautiful, you just come over the hill and it's just this majestic scene of green...
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