Activities for your visit

Ocracoke lifeguard beach retains its No. 2 in the U.S. status

The Ocracoke Lifeguard Beach is the second best beach in the United States. Photo: C. Leinbach

Ocracoke Island once again earned a top spot on the annual Dr. Beach 10 Best Beaches in the USA list, with the Ocracoke Lifeguard Beach ranked the No. 2 best beach in the country, just behind Kailua Beach Park in Oahu, Hawaii.

This is the second year in a row that Ocracoke has been ranked as No. 2.

Released just before Memorial Day, the list is the brainchild of coastal expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman, director of the Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, who has chosen America’s Top 10 beaches since 1991.

He is an internationally known coastal scientist who has published 20 books and hundreds of scientific articles and reports about storm impacts, coastal erosion and ways to improve beach health and safety, especially rip currents.

Leatherman uses 50 criteria to evaluate beaches, with the most important categories being safety, water cleanliness, safety and management of the beach environment and its facilities.

More than 650 beaches in the country are included in his judging, and both Ocracoke and Hatteras islands have both made regular appearances on the list since it was first formed, with Ocracoke Lifeguard Beach landing the No. 1 spot in 2007.

For the first 25 years of ranking, any beach that won the top spot on Leatherman’s list was ineligible for inclusion in subsequent years, but in 2015, Dr. Beach cleared the slate to allow any beach in the nation to once again be eligible, resetting the clock for his annual contest.

The complete top ten list for 2019 is as follows:

  1. Kailua Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii
  2. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
  3. Grayton Beach State Park, Florida Panhandle
  4. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
  5. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
  6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  7. Caladesi Island State Park Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
  8. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
  9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
  10. Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina