North Carolina beach makes top-10 list of best in the U.S.

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(Beach stock image)

On the eastern end of Oahu, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve offers a white sand coral beach enclosed in a breached volcano.

This marine-protected area, 10 miles from Waikiki Beach, was the first beach to ban smoking in Hawaii, a move to protect tropical fish in the area.

Oahu’s Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve topped Dr. Beach’s 26th annual top 10 list of U.S. beaches, released Thursday.

Dr. Beach, also known as coastal expert and Florida International University professor Stephen P. Leatherman, issues his annual list on the basis of 50 criteria, including water and sand quality.

He’s recently started placing more emphasis on beach safety, environmental management and no-smoking policies.

Oahu bans smoking at all beaches on the island.

Hanauma Bay Beach Park has limited parking, so Dr. Beach recommends taking the Waikiki Beach Shuttle.

But don’t try to visit on Tuesdays. The beach is closed to let the fish rest.

Hawaii took two of the top 10 spots in the annual rankings, but Florida had the most beaches listed with three.

North Carolina, Massachusetts, California, New York and South Carolina each had one beach in the top 10.

Why isn’t your favorite beach listed?

Past winners are retired and listed at DrBeach.org, making way for new winners.

1. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu, Hawaii

2. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida

3. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii

4. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina

5. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

6. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida panhandle

7. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

8. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York

9. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida

10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina