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White sand beaches, sophisticated arts, world-class shopping, five star resorts, country clubs of distinction, legendary fine dining and community events coupled with the areas natural beauty and year-round good weather are just a few reasons that Sarasota ranks among the nations 15 most livable communities, according to Money Magazine. Located on South West Florida's Suncoast, the
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Siesta Beach in Sarasota #1 in Nation
on list by 'Dr. Beach'
Siesta Key’s fine quartz sand is one of the primary attractions of its beaches.
The powdery white shoreline of Siesta Key just got the ultimate seal of approval from “Dr. Beach.” Siesta Beach was ranked No. 1 in the nation today in the annual survey by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University.
“The Sand is like Sugar,” Leatherman said. “Some people can't believe it. It is super soft, super fine. They claim to have the finest, whitest sand in the world, and I can't argue with that.”
For the past two years, Siesta was ranked No. 2 in the survey. Now local tourism officials can boast of the top spot.
“This is absolutely the best thing we could ever hear,” said Virginia Haley, president of the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We know we'll be on national TV in the morning. Live shots across the country.”
On Thursday afternoon, visitors to Siesta weren't surprised by early news of the No. 1 ranking.
“Every time I see it, it's like the first time,” said Shelley Harman of Dayton, Ohio. “The sand is like powdered sugar under your feet. And it's clean and the water's clean. It's just awesome.”
A dozen tourists from Buffalo raved about Siesta, too. They're staying at a beach hotel in Clearwater, but still made the drive down to Sarasota. “We told our friends, we're going down to Siesta Beach,” said Dennis Walczak. “That's the top of the line.”
Once a beach reaches the top of the list, it is retired from future rankings.
Leatherman ranks beaches on 50 criteria, including water quality, weather, facilities and crowds. A top score is 250.
Siesta Beach came in at 230s, losing minor points because the view is heavy on condominiums to the north and south. It got credit for free parking, along with shallow water and gentle surf.
“Most days you measure waves over there in inches, not feet,” Leatherman said.
Scott Montgomery, interim lifeguard manager for Sarasota County, spent more than 20 years at Siesta Beach. He always knew it was special. The No. 1 ranking just confirms that fact.
“It's about time,” Montgomery joked. “I've seen a lot of beaches, even beaches in Hawaii, and they just don't compare.”
The 40-acre park at Siesta offers everything from tennis to beach volleyball courts, along with a snack bar and gift shop. The beach at Siesta is more than 100 yards deep — far wider than most beaches in Florida or anywhere else. Thousands of people can spend the day without feeling crowded.
"Known for its 99-percent pure quartz sand and easy-going atmosphere, Siesta Beach provides beachgoers with a variety of activities and amenities," says VisitFlorida, the state’s PR organization. Leatherman says "Siesta Key with some of the finest, whitest sand in the world, this beach attracts sand collectors from all over. Siesta Beach has clear, warm waters that serve for ideal swimming. The beach is hundreds of yards wide in the shape of a crescent, due to anchoring of onshore rocks to the north and a unique underwater formation of coral rock and caves, providing for great snorkeling and scuba diving. This beach is great for volleyball and other types of recreational fitness."
The group adds that Siesta has "tennis and volleyball courts, shaded playground and picnic area and convenient concession stands. Gentle waves and shallow water near the shoreline, along with year-round lifeguard protection, make Siesta Beach a perfect family beach destination."
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