Siesta Beach in Sarasota County was named the top beach in the country by coastal expert Dr. Beach.

Also known as Stephen P. Leatherman, Dr. Beach, a professor at Florida International University, released his 27th annual Top 10 Beach list on Thursday morning.

In ranking Siesta Beach at No. 1, Dr. Beach noted that it has “the finest, whitest sand in the world.” He also noted the “clear, clean waters along this gently-sloping beach face make for ideal swimming.” The year-round beach is popular with snowbirds, he said. “Recent upgrades include expanded parking, while maintaining the beautiful natural environment, and a free trolley to transport beachgoers.”

Leatherman uses 50 criteria to evaluate beaches, including water and sand quality as well as safety and environmental management.

It’s one of several beach ratings that travelers tend to look at when planning their vacations. Siesta Beach was No. 5 among the top 25 beaches in the world in 2017, according to the TripAdvisor. It was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. while St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach took the third and fourth spots, respectively.

Another area beach making the list — at No. 7 — was Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin/Clearwater.

“Reached by pedestrian ferry boat, private boats or a long walk north from Clearwater Beach — the inlet is closed so Caladesi is no longer a true island, but still a great getaway,” Leatherman said. “The white beach is composed of crystalline quartz sand which is soft and cushy at the water’s edge, inviting one to take a dip in the sparkling clear waters.”

His favorite boardwalk trails are the kayak and canoe trails through the mangroves to see the large blue herons and other birds, he said.

Tampa Bay beaches on Dr. Beach’s Top 10 list (Video) – Tampa Bay Business Journal

Frances is a reporter for the Tampa Bay Business Journal.