Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park were named in the 22nd annual Top 10 Beach List for 2012. The list is produced by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, also known as “Dr. Beach,” a professor at Florida International University.
“Florida State Parks hosts visitors year-round who experience the best of our diverse natural and cultural sites, including nearly 100 miles of sandy beaches,” said Florida State Parks Director Donald Forgione. “Cape Florida and St. George Island State Parks provide scenic beaches and outstanding recreational opportunities, which draw many of the more than 20 million people who visit Florida State Parks each year.”
Regarding Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, Dr. Beach said:
“Cape Florida State Park located at the south tip of Key Biscayne, provides clear, emerald-colored waters and gentle surf. This fine, white coral sand beach is great for swimming, as waves are knocked down by a large sand shoal offshore. In addition, the Cape Florida Lighthouse allows for a breath-taking view of this beautiful beach.”
Dr. Beach said of St. George Island State Park, which is in the Florida Panhandle:
“The Florida panhandle beaches are back as oil from the BP spill has vanished, and the sand is squeaky clean (just rub your feet on the sand and hear them squeak). The brilliant white sands and clear waters of St. George Island were fortunately not even impacted last summer. Stingrays are sometimes resting in the shallow waters so shuffle your feet when entering. Birding and fishing are very popular activities here.”
Each year on Memorial Day weekend since 1991, Dr. Beach has released the top 10 beaches that best meet the 50 criteria to rate as best national beaches. Criteria to determine the ranking of the nation’s beaches include beach material, wind speeds, sand softness, oil and tar balls, trash and litter and floatables in water.
Florida state park beaches have consistently scored high in Dr. Beach’s surveys, with five parks ranked as No.1:
– Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin, 2008
– St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Port St. Joe, 2002
– St. Andrews State Park, Panama City, 1995
– Grayton Beach State Park in Northwest Florida, Santa Rosa Beach, 1994
– Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys, 1992
Florida’s state park system is one of the largest in the country, with 160 parks spanning more than 700,000 acres and more than 100 miles of sandy white beach. From swimming and diving in rivers and springs to birding and fishing or hiking and riding on natural scenic trails, Florida’s state parks offer year-around outdoor activities for all ages. Battle reenactments and Native American festivals celebrate Florida’s unique history, while art shows, museums and lighthouses offer a window into Florida’s cultural heritage.