Coastal scientist Stephen P. Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research and known as “Dr. Beach,” announced his 21st annual Top 10 Beaches list on May 27. He has compiled the list annually since 1991 using 50 criteria. Here are his top 10 picks for 2011.

1. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Fla.: “Siesta Beach in Sarasota boasts that it has the finest and whitest sand in the world, and I cannot argue with this claim; the powdery sand is nearly pure quartz crystal,” Leatherman said. The water is blue, clean and clear, making it particularly inviting to bathers and swimmers.

The beach is hundreds of yards wide, attracting volleyball players, beachcombers and sun worshippers. Waves are normally measured in inches, and the beach gradually slopes into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, making it a safe area for children.

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