Grayton Beach State Park Named Best Beach in USA

Discussion in 'The Latest Content from SoWal.com' started by SoWal Staff, May 21, 2020 at 2:13 PM.

  1. SoWal Staff

    SoWal Staff Serving the Community! Staff Member

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    Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, uses 50 criteria each year to name the top 10 beaches in the USA, a labor of love and science since 1991. This year Grayton Beach State Park tops the list at number one for 2020.

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  2. bob bob

    bob bob Beach Fanatic

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    The sand along the coast of Grayton Beach State Park is so unique, some say it speaks to you.

    It’s compared to sugar and is so white it’s almost blinding in bright sunlight. And people who have been cooped up because of stay-at-home orders can once again go walk along it and hear the unique sound the beach makes when bare feet sink in the sand.

    “It’s that fine powdery sand that talks to you,” said Dave Rauschkolb, a restaurant owner, surfer and beach enthusiast who lives nearby. “The ‘squeak,’ ‘squeak,’ ‘squeak’ of the sand when you walk in it.”

    It’s a large reason the beach was picked as the best in the United States by Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman, a coastal scientist and professor at Florida International University, who has been ranking the nation’s beaches for 30 years.

    “It’s some of the finest white sand in the world. The first time I saw it I felt like I had to put on sunglasses it was so bright. Some people thought it was snow. I said, ‘No that’s not snow!’” Leatherman said with a laugh. “The sand is the highest quality in the world. It’s pure quartz crystal.”

    It is one of two Florida beaches that were on the 2020 list released Thursday, along with Caladesi Island State Park at No. 6. The other beaches on the list, in order, are Lifeguarded Beach on Ocrakoke Island, North Carolina; Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York; Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Oahu, Hawaii; Lighthouse Beach in Buxton, North Carolina; Hapuna Beach on Big Island, Hawaii; Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Coronado Beach in San Diego, California; and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

    Leatherman says he gives bonus points for beaches where smoking is banned and that are staffed with lifeguards, which elevated the North Carolina beaches.

    “Beaches are not big, giant ashtrays, and that’s what some people use them for, which is really disgusting,” Leatherman said.

    Grayton Beach State Park won the list’s top spot — even without a smoking ban — based on its sheer beauty. Beyond the sand, it has crystal clear emerald water, fresh water ponds that are a geological rarity and towering dunes that are unique along Florida’s 1,350 miles of coastline.

    Even the walk from the parking lot is special, said Rauschkolb.

    “You have to take what I call the tree tunnel trail,” he said. “You can just walk in this little wonderland under the canopy of the scrub oak and poke your head out and suddenly see the Gulf.”

    While there are currently some restrictions at the nearly 2,000-acre park because of the coronavirus outbreak, it is open. Groups larger than 10 are not allowed and the park is controlling capacity to allow for social distancing. Cabins and camping are temporarily closed.

    In normal times, the park attracts 500 to 1,000 people during peak summer days. But with 1.5 miles of beach and plenty of trails, it doesn’t get overcrowded, said Ben Faure, who manages 37 state parks in the Panhandle for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

    “Grayton Beach is one of the gems along the Emerald Coast of Florida,” Faure said. “We like to call it a desert oasis. It really is a unique place with the sugar-white sands that are almost 99.9% pure quartz. Your feet squeak as you walk on the beach, it’s so pure.”

    Lynn Cherry, a board member of the nonprofit support group Florida Parks Foundation, lives about an hour from the park and has visited many times.

    “Oh, the fishing is great at Grayton Beach! I have caught lots of fish at Grayton Beach State Park,” Cherry said.

    And the Gulf of Mexico tends to have calmer surf than Florida’s Atlantic Ocean beaches.

    “On a typical day, it’s a nice surf and very enjoyable swimming,” she said.
     
  3. jodiFL

    jodiFL Beach Fanatic

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    I kinda wish he had never heard of Grayton Beach. Things were so much simpler before his "outing" of Grayton back in the 90s.
     
  4. Taco-Zero

    Taco-Zero Beach Comber

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    After the BP Oil spill, the county was thinking of spending some of the money from BP on building a 1,400ft fishing pier at Grayton State Park. I would have loved that so so much. However, the opinion of most of the locals was that a fishing pier would bring an undesirable element to our town... the county gave the money to Sandestin instead of Grayton Beach. I would have loved to have had a fishing pier there. Most of the year, the parking spaces are empty anyway. Number one beach in America, I can see that. However, to me I’d love to go to Grayton and buy some lunch, throw a line in and catch a Cobia , a Bull Red, or a King Mackerel.
    I hope one day our town will make an addition that we can use instead of the many rumors years ago of Sandestin building a casino ( which will bring tons of crime to this town ). Everybody knows we have the best beaches, because we do! I sure would love to have a few things in this town that are in other towns across the US but haven’t made it here yet. Maybe part of the charm of our town is that we don’t? IDK?
     
  5. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    personally, I love a fishing pier. But I love my state parks more and anything that might cause a problem on or near shore at one of our parks I would like to avoid.

    Just Say No to proposed Grayton Beach Fishing Pier

    Walton County Fishing Pier Survey
     
  6. Taco-Zero

    Taco-Zero Beach Comber

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    I understand, I just have so many good memories throughout my high school years, fishing on the pier. I fished there practically every night. My Dad knew where to find me and I almost always brought home dinner! While kids my age were getting in trouble, I was being looked after and given quite an education by retired military dudes that loved to fish as well. They helped me stay safe and influenced my decisions and I had fun without getting in trouble. I wish we had that here. This town has some wonderful people and I know we’d look out for each other.
     

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