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"Dr Beach" Names Best Beach for 2020

Let's face it, we could all use a beach day -- although depending on where you live, it may be some time yet before you can visit, given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even so, Stephen Leatherman, a coastal scientist and professor at Florida International University who goes by "Dr. Beach," has named Florida's Grayton Beach State Park as America's Best Beach for this year.

Leatherman has been ranking the nation's beaches for 30 years on 50 criteria including aesthetics like sand quality, cleanliness, number of pests like biting flies, and elbow room for beachgoers.

Here are Dr. Beach's top 10 beaches in America, 2020:

1. Grayton Beach State Park -- Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

2. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach -- Outer Banks, North Carolina

3. Coopers Beach -- Southhampton, New York

4. Duke Kahanamoku Beach -- Oahu, Hawaii

5. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton -- Outer Banks of North Carolina

6. Caladesi Island State Park -- Dunedin/Clearwater Florida

7. Hapuna Beach State Park -- Big Island, Hawaii

8. Coast Guard Beach -- Cape Cod, Massachusetts

9. Coronado Beach -- San Diego, California

10. Beachwalker Park -- Kiawah Island, South Carolina

For the first time in 30 years, however, given the current climate, Dr. Beach also offered some advice regarding staying safe on the sand in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis:

Follow guidelines -- and check them twice. Visiting the beach during these times is going to be a much-needed stress relief for many people. Everyone must take personal responsibility so that beaches can remain open to the public. Pay attention to all guidelines. Remember, only certain activities such as walking, jogging and swimming may be allowed, while sunbathing or other activities may be prohibited.

Maintain a safe social distance at all times. Rules for social distancing don't disappear once you set foot on the sand or go for a dip in the ocean. It’s important to stay 6 feet apart from other people.

Grab the sunscreen and, yes, a face mask! It may not seem like the best summer accessory, but it’s an absolutely necessary one. Check whether local rules dictate whether a face mask needs to be worn. Even if they aren’t required, make sure to have one on hand at all times, especially if you plan on ordering food or drinks at the beach.

Have a beach visit backup plan. There may be capacity limits on some beaches during reopening. And it’s inevitable that there may be days when spots fill up quickly so check the beach website. When setting out on a beach visit, make sure to have a backup plan, like a picnic at a park.

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