Cape Hatteras named the #10 beach in the U.S.

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Cape Hatteras was named the #10 U.S. beach in the 2012 survey by “Dr. Beach” professor Stephen P. Leatherman of Florida International University.

Leatherman ranks beaches on 50 criteria, including the look and feel of the sand, water quality, weather, facilities and crowds.

The top beach? Coronado Beach in California.

Coronado Beach, on a peninsula across the bay from San Diego, has near-perfect Mediterranean weather and a postcard backdrop.

Like a Hollywood star, Coronado’s 1.5-mile-long beach literally sparkles, thanks to the mineral mica glinting in its sand.

It is the first time “Dr. Beach” has given the top slot to California in the more than two decades that he’s been ranking beaches in the U.S. based on their environmental quality and safety for swimmers.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 were No. 2, Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii; No. 3, Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.; No. 4, St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle; No. 5, Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii; No. 6, Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.; No. 7, Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii; No. 8, Cape Florida State Park near Miami.; No. 9, Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.; and No. 10, Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Leatherman gives each beach a numerical score. A top score is 250.

Coronado came in the 230s, losing points because its water temperature hovering in the 60s allows for only a quick dip for most, he said. California’s chilly coastal waters have cost its pristine beaches points when they’ve been up against balmy contenders in Florida and Hawaii in the past.

Coronado Beach was runner-up last year to Florida’s Siesta Beach. Once a beach tops Leatherman’s list, it is retired from consideration for future rankings.

Once a beach tops Leatherman’s list, it is retired from consideration for future rankings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.