The Ocracoke Lifeguard Beach is part of the Cape Hatteras Nation Seashore, which is part of the National Park Service. Photo: C. Leinbach
Cloud castles at the Lifeguard Beach, named this year as the No. 3 beach in the nation by Dr. Beach. Photo: C. Leinbach

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After being retired for a few years following a No. 1 designation as the Best Beach in America in 2007, Ocracoke Island has once again risen to the top of the famed Dr. Beach list in 2017, earning a No. 3 spot.

The list has become a nationally recognized guideline of the best beaches in the country and is compiled every year by Florida International University professor Stephen Leatherman, also known as “Dr. Beach.”

After earning the No.1 spot, winning beach destinations are retired for a while, but can resurface on the list a few years later, as is the case with Ocracoke.

Dr. Beach praises Ocracoke Island as one of his personal favorite destinations in the country.

“Ocracoke, once the home of Blackbeard the pirate, is still a special place—it is my favorite getaway beach,” he reports on his website, “Here you will find some of the wildest beaches in the country.  Big surf dominates in late summer, so families with children may want to come earlier in the year. Don’t expect to play golf or stay at the Ritz; the main pursuits are swimming and beachcombing.”

Leatherman compiles the popular list of best public beaches using 50 criteria, including best sand and water quality, environmental management and amenities.

Last year, Ocracoke was listed as fourth and in 2007 it was named the top beach in America.

This year’s top beach is Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Fla., while a beach in Maui came in second. No other North Carolina beaches made the list.

To view Dr. Beach’s list, click here.

Dramatic Ocracoke, NC, beach. Photo: C. Leinbach
DRAMATIC SKIES are frequent occurrences on Ocracoke beaches. Photo: C. Leinbach


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