Perhaps you’ve noticed that Cape Hatteras National Seashore has made the top ten in Dr. Beach’s 2008 list of America’s Best Beaches. To put a finer point on it, Cape Hatteras Beach is ranked number eight.
This lofty ranking comes hard on the heels of the No. 1 ranking earned by another Cape Hatteras locale, Ocracoke Island’s Lifeguard Beach, in 2007. (Ocracoke would be in the top ten again, too, were it not for the no-repeat rule.)
There’s no doubt about it. You can look long and hard, but you’ll be very hard pressed to find better beaches than those at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The guy that media types call “Dr. Beach” is actually Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a professor at Florida International University. Although Dr. Leatherman has been releasing his best beaches list on Memorial Day weekend since 1991, he’s not just some gadabout beach booster. Dr. Leatherman has loads of professional experience, a basket full of accolades, and tremendous street 'cred' with the coastal beaches and storms crowd. (I’m keenly aware of these things because he once interviewed for a position we offered at the University of South Carolina.)
Dr. Leatherman’s Ph.D. in Environmental (Coastal) Sciences dates to 1976. He’s forgotten more things about coastal storm impacts than most people have ever learned. For many years he served on the National Academy of Science Post-Storm Disaster Field Team. These are the experts that inside-the-Beltway number crunchers dispatch to hurricane-impacted areas to survey the damage.
Since 1997 Dr. Beach has been director of the International Hurricane Research Center as well as the director of IHRC’s Laboratory of Coastal Research. In addition to making hundreds of conference, workshop, and media presentations, giving numerous invited talks all over the world, granting scads of television, radio, and newspaper interviews, and giving expert testimony before congressional committees ten times, Dr. Leatherman has authored or edited 16 books (another hurricane book will soon be out) and published over 200 refereed journal articles and technical reports. That’s about three career’s worth.
If this guy says that Cape Hatteras has a top ten quality beach, you can take it to the banks. The Outer Banks, that is.