29.08.2012 0

America’s Cleanest Beaches

According to surveys, beaches are the number one tourist destination in the United States. And when asked what is the most important factor in choosing a beach to visit, what do  you think most people respond? It’s not how big the waves are, or whether it’s sandy or rocky. It’s not whether a beach has easy access, or allows all-terrain-vehicles. The answer, overwhelmingly, is how clean the beach is.

When you think about it, it’s easy to understand why cleanliness is the number one concern of beachgoers. For one thing, everyone at the beach is barefoot! Who wants to go to a beach where you might step on broken glass, rotten food, or some even more toxic substance? The answer, clearly, is nobody does. And when it comes to the cleanliness of the water, anyone who has ever turned up at their local beach, only to find it “closed by order of the health authority,” knows that water contamination can make you sick, and even prove fatal in some cases.

One organization that is concerned with the health of America’s beaches and shoreline is the Natural Resources Defense Council. They are now past their twentieth year of publishing the annual “Testing the Waters Report.” The NRDC gives you the good and the bad – with rankings of the cleanest, and the dirtiest beaches in the U.S.

The NRDC report ranks beaches based on a number of different factors, and is very involved with testing the quality of the water at each beach.


CaliforniaCrescent Beach, Redwood National Park
DelawareRehoboth Beach, Sussex County
FloridaSouth Beach Park, Dade County
FloridaLaguna Beach, Bay County
HawaiiRoyal Moana Beach, Honolulu
MassachusettsSinging Beach, Essex County
New HampshireHampton Beach State Park
MaineEcho Beach, Acadia National Park
New JerseyNorth Beach, Sandy Hook National Seashore
OregonShort Sand Beach, Tillamook County
TexasCameron Beach, South Padre Island
VirginiaVirginia Beach

The table above is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather it’s a customized list of a dozen of the cleanest beaches in the U.S., based on sources such as the NRDC, the Clean Beach Council, and more. No-one can guarantee the health of a beach and its ocean ecosystem from year to year. As the Gulf oil spill demonstrated, we are more than capable of ruining a great beach at any time. But nonetheless, pristine beaches do deserve recognition. This group of twelve beaches, as of this writing, are among the best of the best in the U.S.

One organization that deserves special mention is the Clean Beach Council, a group that has been monitoring the health of American and world beaches for more than ten years. The Clean Beach Council is a network of coastal organizations and individuals who are committed to recognizing and promoting clean, healthy, and well-managed beaches worldwide. To help in comparing beaches, the CBC has developed what it calls the Blue Wave Program, America’s first environmental certification for beaches.

A wide range of institutions can apply for Blue Wave Certification for a beach, including municipalities, hotel and resort operators,  and even homeowner associations. In order to receive the coveted Blue Wave designation, beaches must adhere to a list of healthy, eco-friendly criteria, including such factors as cleanliness, respect for nature, swimming and surfing safety, and more.

If you are lucky enough to live near one of these beaches, or able to go visit, remember to “leave it as you found it”! If you’re involved in a beach cleanup project, you will want to wear protective gloves to avoid possible injury.

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