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Jun 1, 2010 4:31 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Coopers Beach named best in United States; Main Beach ranked fifth

Jun 1, 2010 4:31 PM

Coopers Beach, long the crown jewel of Southampton Village’s 7-mile oceanfront, has been crowned the number-one beach in America.

Dr. Stephen Leatherman, the director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, bestowed the title upon Coopers Beach late last week when he released his 20th annual ranking of 650 of the country’s major public recreational beaches. The village’s premier sandy spot, a 500-foot-long-by-300-foot-wide stretch gently sloping into the Atlantic Ocean, has been a perennial contender, alternating between third and fourth places the past several years, but 2010 marks the first time it or any other New York beach bested sandy stretches in Florida, South Carolina, California and Hawaii to top the list.

East Hampton’s Main Beach was the only other New York beach to place in the top 10, finishing fifth this year.

Dr. Leatherman—also known as Dr. Beach—evaluates beaches according to 50 criteria, including sand softness, water temperature, size of breaking waves, rip currents, presence of seaweed and jellyfish on the beach, trash, amenities, and safety record, assigning a score of 1 to 5 for each factor. Every year, the nationwide winner is retired from the competition in order to rotate the limelight.

One beach on the Florida panhandle was pulled from consideration this year in part because of the gushing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, though Dr. Leatherman observed that no oil has washed ashore there yet. “The only oil we have on our beaches is suntan oil,” the Floridian said.

Coopers Beach garnered particular praise this year for being shielded from cold Labrador currents, having hundreds of yards of “grainy white quartz sand,” plentiful dunes covered by American beachgrass, and ease of access, as well as a concession stand, which Dr. Leatherman equated to a restaurant.

Although the coastal expert said he subtracted a few points for sand—he favors the whiter and finer sands of Florida and Hawaii—Southampton’s beach was buoyed by its cleanliness.

“I find locals pick things up themselves. They’re very proactive. It’s clean. It’s safe. It has an excellent lifeguard program,” he said of Coopers Beach, “and there are no drownings in its history whatsoever,” he said, adding that preservation of the dunes was also noteworthy.

This year, the Southampton Village Board banned smoking within 50 feet of the concession stand.

“People say, ‘That’s nice, but I know this great beach in Maine,’” Dr. Leatherman commented. “Wilderness beaches are wonderful, but how can you get there without hiking 4 miles?”

The 400-spot main parking lot at Coopers Beach boosted its accessibility score, though Dr. Leatherman did comment on its priciness—$40 for day parking. (Season passes for residents are free; permits for renters are $350; and residents of the town but not the village pay $225.)

He described Coopers Beach having emerged relatively unscathed from recent storms as “almost magical,” and the unique treasures nearby, such as St. Andrew’s Dune Church, “majestic.”

“I think Europeans know more about Coopers Beach than Americans do,” he said.

Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley, standing seaside at Coopers Beach over Memorial Day weekend, said, “It’s a great honor for what it is to be ranked number one. It’s a real team effort by all our departments.”

Caitlin Lemanski, beach manager for the fourth year running, noted that the beach is raked every day by the Highway Department and that “a lot of village employees really care about Coopers Beach.”

One 12-year-old from Medford, Alexandria Barlowe, skipped school last Friday to wade through the surf in Southampton with her twin sister, Francesca, and their friend Shannon Torre, 12.

“My mom started screaming, ‘It’s the number-one beach, and it’s in New York!’” Alexandria explained.

Fedelia Herchy, a kitchen helper at Southampton Hospital and native of Ghana, was there too. Every day, she said, she walks to the beach and back to the hospital to try to ward off the diabetes that runs in her family.

A German couple, Oliver and Christian Lentz, and their daughter, Sophia, 12, vacationing at Coopers Beach for the first time, said they found the beach very relaxing.

The water measured a chilly 56 degrees last weekend, and few swimmers have taken the plunge so far this year, though a wetsuit-clad Shane Dyckman, 37, a surf instructor for the Flying Point Surf School, took student Sammy Dubner, 10, out for a lesson on Friday. “It’s a great little sandbar here,” Mr. Dyckman smiled.

Meanwhile, Coopers regular Manny Falzon, a retired Wall Street trader, joked from his beach chair that, “We only have negative things to say. We don’t know how it won this award. We want to keep this beach empty.”

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nice beach, but by far and away the prettiest beaches are in Montauk. Ditch Plains, and the beaches off the old highway blow away all the rest of the beaches in terms of natural scenery
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on May 28, 10 1:04 PM
Yeah. Let's not tell too many people where those beautiful hideaways are, OK?

"Mo' people, mp' problems..."
By Mr. Z (11550), North Sea on May 29, 10 10:50 AM
... it's too late !!
By AndersEn (173), Southampton on May 29, 10 1:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
I hate to break it to you but there is no beach any more at ditch plains just a pile of sharp rocks and dull pretentious snobs
By davidf (325), hampton bays on May 31, 10 5:54 PM
I just wish it didn't cost $200.00 (or is it $300 now?) for those of us who live in the town to get a season's pass.
By lablover (104), Southampton on May 28, 10 2:24 PM
?? It's free. The Town charges, not village.
By littleplains (305), olde england on May 28, 10 9:47 PM
Pack light, take a bike, or a taxi, and enjoy less hasle parking if you can.

Leave a little early, come home a little late, and don't foget to wait, after what you ate.
By Mr. Z (11550), North Sea on May 29, 10 10:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
I guess it's a good thing they don't rate it on how easy it is to go to. Between the price and the crowds, it's easier to avoid it completely and go to one of the less populated beaches - that are much nicer, in my opinion, because of the lack of crowds.
By LocalMom (36), Southampton on May 28, 10 3:12 PM
What the article doesn't say is once a beach is ranked #1, it's taken off the list... so technically, all the beaches that have been ranked #1 are "better" than this beach. Main Beach will be the top in a few years.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 28, 10 5:39 PM
I LOVE main beach and go all the time but parking is difficult and the air traffic is awful
By razza5350 (1910), East Hampton on May 29, 10 8:36 AM
"New York has world-class beaches, but I don't think a lot of people in the United States know about them," said Leatherman.

Is it that they are not that well known, or that there are many which are a much more affordable destination?
By Mr. Z (11550), North Sea on May 29, 10 11:00 AM
I hope you love all your beaches, not just Coopers. Because when a president backstabs those who voted for him by allowing offshore drilling in the Atlantic
Ocean just so he can try and wrangle a few crusty old votes from those GOP losers, we might have to evaluate what is important in our lives.

The Gulf is dying. Plain and simple. Imagine this scenario of the coast of virginia,
slowly making it's way to the #1 beach. Well you better.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on May 31, 10 7:48 PM
This is so stupid. Every beach on the South Shore of Long Island from Brooklyn to Montauk is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
By danrudan (40), Southampton on May 31, 10 7:51 PM
Coopers Beach is a beautiful place, but the no-nothings on the Southampton Town Board are trying to ruin it by changing the helicopter routes and make them take over water routes. Apparently some idiot youkles out in the poor section of the hamptons have been complaining, ruining it for the rest of us. Plus its not even safe to ride a helicopter over the water.
By CopterBoy (2), The Hamptons on May 31, 10 8:02 PM
BWAHAHAHAHA! "Idiot youkles out in the poor section of the Hamptons." Those darn poor people ruin EVERYTHING! LOL! CopterBoy, I hope your chopper explodes one day and sends it's prop directly up your a#$.

Poor People-1
CopterBoy- 0
By cochise316 (58), southampton on Jun 1, 10 4:09 PM
2 members liked this comment
Not safe for who to "ride" a helicopter the water? For the people who choose to rise in it and the pilot? Too bad for them, if they want to ride in the helicopter than they can assume the risk associated with it.... crashing. Why should they be allowed to fly over peoples homes and disrupt their lives by doing so or worse crash into someones home. I would rather you crash in the ocean, as the majority of long islanders do:)
Economic status has nothing to do with noise pollution.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jun 2, 10 5:29 PM
Yea right, copterboy. Enjoy the flight over the youkles while you can. Better watch out for the stingers coming your way!
By danrudan (40), Southampton on Jun 4, 10 8:09 PM
So stay on the ground with us "poor youkles" and see how you like it.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on May 31, 10 11:47 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on Jun 1, 10 9:08 AM
Congrats to the people that work hard to make it a top beach!
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on Jun 1, 10 9:08 AM
If the BP oil leak in the Gulf goes around Florida and reaches the Gulf Stream, it could have a significant impact not only on the East Coast, but also on Ireland etc. across the pond.

So much for Coopers, Main Beach and so forth.

Think about it!
By MJP (13), On Quiogue on Jun 1, 10 6:38 PM
Goofy video of Coopers
By chairmanoftheBORED (12), Southampton on Jun 13, 10 9:45 AM
Hot Tubs,SALE, Southampton Village, SouthamptonFest weekend