(CNN) — A savage expanse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks has earned the top spot on an annual list of America’s Best Beaches.
Ocracoke Island’s patrolled beach is the #1 stretch of sand for 2022, according to coastal scientist Stephen Leatherman, aka “Dr. Beach’.
Leatherman, a professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, has ranked 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 wildest beaches in the country can be found here. He cautions that families with children may want to visit earlier in the summer, as late summer brings big surf.
“Don’t expect to play golf or stay at the Ritz; the main pastimes are swimming and beachcombing and exploring the historic village,” Leatherman said in describing the beach on his annual list.
What NOT to pack? Golf clubs and high heels, says Visit Ocracoke. “This is an island, but it’s not a resort,” the website says. Walking to dinner in casual attire — even to Ocracoke’s most upscale dining establishments — is encouraged.
Beachfront accommodation is limited to one National Park Service campground, so most visitors stay in the village a few miles from the beach.
More of the best American beaches
A second Outer Banks beach, Lighthouse Beach in Buxton on Hatteras Island, is ranked No. 6 this year. This beach was the site of Cape Hatteras’ old spiral-striped lighthouse until erosion caused it to be moved about 3,000 feet inland in 1999. .
Beaches in California, South Carolina and Massachusetts appear in the second half of the ranking.
Here’s the full Top 10 list:
Top 10 Beaches List for 2022
1. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina
2. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
4. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
5. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
6. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, North Carolina Outer Shores
7. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
8. Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii
9. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts