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Top 10 Best U.S. Beaches in 2010 Announced

The Hamptons is atop this year's Top 10 Beaches list, with Coopers Beach on Long Island, N.Y., taking the No. 1 slot and Main Beach in East Hampton, N.Y., coming in fifth place.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Best Beaches list, put together by Stephen Leatherman, Director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research in Miami. He's also referred to as Dr. Beach.

The list was released today.

"The Hamptons are world-class beaches and are probably better known to Europeans than most Americans," Leatherman told LiveScience. "This is the first time that a NY beach has been the national winner." (Both Coopers and Main beaches did make the list last year, coming in at third and sixth, respectively.)

Leatherman nailed down his choices last week, and with the precarious Gulf oil spill creeping closer to shore, he had to knock the Florida Panhandle beaches off the list just in case the gunk made its way to these beaches along the northernmost stretch of the state just above the Gulf of Mexico.

Even so, Florida did get some love, with Siesta Beach in Sarasota and Cape Florida State Park in the Keys getting placement.

Here are the Top 10 Beaches for 2010:

1. Coopers Beach (Southampton, N.Y.)2. Siesta Beach (Sarasota, Fla.)3. Coronado Beach (San Diego, Calif.)4. Cape Hatteras (Outer Banks, N.C.)5. Main Beach (East Hampton, N.Y.)6. Kahanamoku Beach (Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii)7. Coast Guard Beach (Cape Cod, Mass.)8. Beachwalker Park (Kiawah Island, S.C.)9. Hamoa Beach (Maui, Hawaii)10. Cape Florida State Park (Key Biscayne, Fla.)

Located on the east end of Long Island, Coopers Beach is the main stretch of sand in the Village of Southampton, which along with East Hampton make up the famous resorts called the Hamptons – where the rich and famous reside and frequent during the season. The turrets of clothing designer Calvin Klein's mansion are among the views visible from Coopers Beach. 

Though officially only 500 feet (152 meters) long, Coopers' sandy shores extend for 7 miles (11 kilometers). And in addition to being far beyond the reach of the Gulf oil slick, the beach was also spared any damage from the storms this past winter that pummeled the U.S. Northeast coast.

In other words, the perfect spot to spend Memorial Day. "I will be traveling to Southampton on Sunday and will certainly be at Coopers Beach on Memorial Day with some friends," Leatherman said. "I will be incognito."

As with Coopers, all 10 beaches were chosen from Leatherman's survey of 650 public beaches along the U.S. coast of the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific. He uses 50 criteria for ranking beach quality, including sand softness, frequency of rip currents, size of waves, presence of shorebirds, water color, the presence of oil and tarballs, whether it's overcrowded, public safety, maintenance of grounds and other factors.

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Jeanna Bryner
Jeanna Bryner

Jeanna is the editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.