Sometimes you get the feeling that “Dr. Beach” isn’t really trying anymore.
Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island is in the beach guru’s Top Ten list — again — for the five zillionth time. The good doctor continues to chill with the Charleston County park’s natural environs, the wildlife-flocked Capt. Sam’s Spit and amenities — even though this time he expresses a qualm over a proposed development on the spit.
Well, sure, Beachwalker’s nice. But what about waves? Folly’s got ’em, the best surf in the state. The Edge of America has natural environs beaches on both ends, and the iconic Morris Island Lighthouse out in the water. Not to mention a pier, beachfront restaurants and a hotel with a lounge overlooking the waves.
Its downtown shopping and entertainment scene still hangs onto its bohemian vibe, if only by the thin strap of a high-priced bikini.
Isle of Palms has beach glam. This is where you go to tan, and it too has a pier, beachfront restaurants and hotels, and a beachware shopping row.
Then there’s the mother pearl of natural beaches, the state’s Botany Bay Plantation preserve and wildlife management area just down the coast. Long streams of pelicans glide overhead, along a stretch of sand backed by palmetto trees and the limbs of a boneyard beach. The causeway out travels a marsh where shorebirds hang and the reclusive painted bunting flashes by.
Dr. Beach, “America’s Foremost Beach Expert,” is Dr. Stephen Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. He has ranked the top 10 U.S. beaches list every year since 1991. He bases his findings on 50 criteria, such as water and sand quality, facilities available, and trash maintenance.