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May 30, 2017 3:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Coopers Beach In Southampton Village Ranked Fifth In Dr. Beach's 2017 Best Beaches List

A lifeguard's station at Cooper's Beach.  CHRIS PERAINO
May 30, 2017 3:28 PM

Dr. Beach could do without the $40 daily parking fee for nonresidents, but the “beautiful setting in the Hamptons: the big dunes and the beautiful mansions in the background” were too much to pass up.

Coopers Beach in Southampton Village was ranked fifth on Dr. Beach’s 27th annual Top Ten Beach List. “It’s got great access compared to most beaches in the area,” said Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, self-dubbed Dr. Beach. “But here’s the big thing: big, wide, sandy beach—and, of course, they have lifeguards who are well trained.”

Dr. Leatherman is a professor and the director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University and has been compiling his top-10 list annually since 1991.

He tours the nation’s finest beaches, an enviable job, and uses 50 criteria to weigh various environmental features as nuanced as underwater beach slopes, erosion and longshore currents, as well as factors such as crowdedness, ease of access and the quality of the surrounding community. Safety and environmental management also are at a premium.

Traditionally, Dr. Beach withdraws first-place beaches in order to allow the sunlight to shine on a greater number of the hundreds of contending American beaches. But two years ago, after 25 years of his coveted top-10 lists, Dr. Beach took a page from Brett Favre’s playbook, pulling past winners out of retirement and reintegrating them for contention. That led to what he said was one of the deepest fields since he first started announcing the list each year.

East Hampton’s Main Beach, ranked the best beach of 2013, was noticeably absent from this year’s list.

“It’s just very hard to get into the top-10 list. It’s top 20 for sure,” Dr. Leatherman said of Main Beach. “The Hamptons are blessed with beautiful beaches. I wish I could mention all of them, but I can’t do that.”

Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida, heralded for its “quartz crystal, and it’s the finest white sand in the world,” topped the 2017 list. “It also has this emerald green water. Of course, again, clean sand, clean water,” Dr. Leatherman said, adding that he also was impressed by Siesta Beach’s free public trolley.

Florida is the most represented state with three top-10 finishers. Hawaii follows with two, while New York, South Carolina, North Carolina, California and Massachusetts each have one.

Dr. Beach’s full list can be found at drbeach.org.

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