(CNN) – The forested area on the Outer Banks of North Carolina tops the annual list of America’s Best Beaches.
According to coastal scientist Stephen Leatherman, Okracock Island’s Lifeguarded Beach is the No. 1 area of sand for 2022, also known as “Dr. Beach”.
Leatherman, professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, has been ranking America’s best beaches since 1991.
Ocracoke is only accessible by private plane or boat and ferry service, which can accommodate cars and RVs.
According to Leatherman, some of the country’s wildest beaches are found here. He warns that families with children may want to visit early in the summer because the big surf comes in late summer.
“Don’t expect to play golf or stay at the Ritz; the main occupations are swimming and beachcombing as well as exploring the historic village,” Leatherman said in a description of the beach in his annual list.
Don’t pack? Golf clubs and high heels, visit Okracock says. “It’s an island, but it’s not a resort,” his website says. Walking for dinner in casual attire – even for the most upscale restaurants in Okracock – is encouraged.
Beachfront accommodation is limited to a National Park Service campground, so most visitors live in a village two miles from the beach.
More of the top US beaches
Buxton’s second Outer Banks Beach, Lighthouse Beach is number 6 this year on Hatters Island. The beach was the site of the old spiral-striped Cape Hatteras lighthouse until in 1999 erosion caused it to move about 3,000 feet inland.
The beaches of California, South Carolina and Massachusetts appear in the second half of the rankings.
Here is a complete top 10 list:
List of top 10 beaches for 2022
1. Banks outside Okracock Lifeguard Beach, North Carolina
2. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin / Clearwater, Florida
3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
4. St. George Island State Park, Florida Penhandle
5. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Ohio, Hawaii
6. Outer Banks of Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, North Carolina
7. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
8. Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii
9. Beachwalker Park, Kiawa Island, South Carolina
10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts