Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May you always have a seashell in your pocket & sand between your toes

Dr. Stephen Leatherman - His office is the beach
(credit : www.solotravelgirl.com)
When planning a destination that involves surf, sun, & sand thousands of  travelers  turn to the experts for advice. In this case "America's foremost beach expert" Dr. Beach.  Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman aka Dr. Beach is a Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. He's a scientist.  Dr. Beach is a  really smart & really educated guy who has parlayed his passion for the outdoors into a super nice gig travelling the world & ranking the top beaches. 

He announces his annual list of best beaches every Memorial Day weekend. This May 30 will be his 20th anniversary. Dr. Beach has developed a 50 point rating system that covers all aspects of a great beach from water clarity, sand softness, & the size of breaking waves to the smell, the amount of wildlife, & accessibility. Dr. Beach is as we say - da man.
The Florida BeachHunter (left) & Dr. Beach
(credit: www.blogthebeach.com)

Blogger & journalist David McRee (aka Florida BeachHunter) recently joined Dr. Beach on Little Gasparilla Island to get a first-hand look at how the good Doctor does his thing.  David is another guy with a passion for the outdoors who's job requires him to wear his beach trunks & lots of sunsceen. 

David's Blog the Beach is a terrific resource when looking for information on Florida beaches. He gives you pictures, video, & scientific info on the water clarity, sand conditions, amenities,  & accessibility.  David also points out where the best beaches would be if you are interested in kayaking, snorkeling, or just a quiet getaway. Between Dr Beach's top 10 list & the Florida BeachHunter's best places to do whatever it is you want to do - choosing a beach destination is easier than ever or maybe harder with so many tantalizing choices.

Now I don't have a snazzy moniker and I am still waiting on the Colombia Sportswear folks to get back to me on my offer to represent the official sharkstooth/shelling line of beachwear-thing but I some opinions of my own to share that are not based on one drop of scientific data.

 I too have a list of my own best beaches -  For shelling. My criteria for a good shelling beach is pretty simple.  I'm looking for  shells & lots of them. The sand & water quality aren't a big issue for me.  Good shelling is usually at low tide so the smell is a moot point. Accessibility & amenities have kept quite a few self-professed shelling fanatics from joining me on many a shelling excursion.  The wading out to sandbars, midnight low tides, & lack of potties have thinned the crowd out. For you fanatical shell lovers out there this list is for you.  
#1 Blind Pass on Sanibel-Captiva Island

#2 The 10 Spot on Bonita Beach

#3 Tigertail Beach on Marco Island
#4 Barefoot Beach - Bonita Springs
#5 Honeymoon Island - Dunedin Beach(credit: www.ShellbellesTikiHut.com)

Honorable Mention -
 Stump Pass on Manasota Key

(the shells are hit & miss but the sharks teeth are the best evah!)

 I doubt my favorites will make Dr. Beach's top ten list but that's ok. My list is limited to the beaches I have frequented in my neck of the Florida woods.  Thanks to my blogger shell sistah's Pam of i Love Shelling, Rhonda of Shellbelle's Tiki hut, & Carla of Love Letters From the Sea for their posts.