The 35 Best Beaches in America for Avoiding Beach Pollution (Plus the 16 Worst Beaches)

dirty beaches photo

The Natural Resources Defense Council has ranked the best beaches in America for avoiding beach pollution, along with the worst.

In the U.S., we take water quality for granted. We don’t think twice about jumping in the ocean no matter where we are, just assuming that it’s safe. But the NRDC has something to say about that–in fact, beach pollution is a big problem.

In a new report released last week, NRDC found that 10 percent of our nation’s beaches aren’t up to snuff. Water quality samples from 3,500 beaches collected last year found that far too many of our nation’s beaches are too contaminated to safely take a dip. In all, 10 percent failed to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s benchmark for swimmer safety. The 24th annual beach report from the Natural Resources Defense Council confirms that beach pollution that could endanger human health. Massive storm water runoff and sewage overflow are the two main culprits.

“Sewage and contaminated runoff in the water should never ruin a family beach trip,” said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine. “But no matter where you live, urban slobber and other pollution can seriously compromise the water quality at your favorite beach and make your family sick. To help keep us healthy at the beach and stem the tide of water pollution, our government leaders can finalize a critical proposal – the Clean Water Protection Rule – to restore vital protections for the streams and wetlands that help sustain clean beaches.”

The report rated the best and worst beaches in terms of  water quality. The report comes as EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers in considering taking up action to clean up tributary streams and wetlands hit hard by pollution. The new Clean Water Protection Rule would strengthen the rules for two million streams, lakes, and wetlands that run into large bodies of water, which in turn filter nasty contaminants to our nation’s beaches.

The Best Beaches in America for Avoiding Beach Pollution

1. Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach in Baldwin County

2. Alabama: Gulf State Park Pavilion in Baldwin County

3. Alabama: Dauphin Island Public Beach

4. California: Newport Beach in Orange County (1 of 3 monitored sections)

5. Delaware: Dewey Beach-Swedes in Sussex County

6. Florida: Bowman’s Beach in Lee County

7. Florida: Coquina Beach South in Manatee County

8. Florida: Fort Desoto North Beach in Pinellas County

9. Georgia: Tybee Island North in Chatham County

10. Hawaii: Hapuna Beach St. Rec. Area in Big Island

11. Hawaii: Po’ipu Beach Park in Kauai

12. Hawaii: Wailea Beach Park in Maui

13. Massachusetts: Singing Beach in Essex County

14. Maryland: Point Lookout State Park in St Mary’s County

15. Maryland: Assateague State Park in Worcester County

16. North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Main St. and Sunset Blvd. in Brunswick County

17. North Carolina: Beach at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Dare County

18. North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Salisbury Street in Wrightsville Beach in New Hanover

19. North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Ocean Blvd. and Crews Ave. in Topsail Beach in Pender County

20. New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park in Rockingham County

21. New Hampshire: Wallis Sands Beach at Wallis Rd. in Rockingham County

22. New Hampshire: Wallis Sands State Park in Rockingham County

23. New Jersey: Washington (Margate) in Atlantic County

24. New Jersey: 40th St. (Avalon) in Cape May County

25. New Jersey: 40th St. (Sea Isle City) in Cape May County

26. New Jersey: Stone Harbor at 96th St. in Cape May County

27. New Jersey: Upper Township at Webster Rd. in Cape May County

28. New Jersey: Wildwood Crest at Orchid in Cape May County

29. New Jersey: Broadway (Pt. Pleasant Beach) in Ocean County

30. New York: Long Beach City in Nassau County

31. Virginia: Virginia Beach at 28th St. in Virginia Beach County

32. Virginia: Virginia Beach at 45th St in Virginia Beach County

33. Virginia: Back Bay Beach in Virginia Beach County

34. Virginia: Virginia Beach – Little Island Beach North in Virginia Beach County

35. Washington: Westhaven State Park, South Jetty in Grays Harbor

The Nation’s Repeat Offenders

1. California: Malibu Pier, 50 yards east of the pier, in Los Angeles County

2. Indiana: Jeorse Park Beach in Lake County

3. Massachusetts: Cockle Cove Creek in Barnstable County

4. Maine: Goodies Beach in Knox County

5. New Jersey: Beachwood Beach in Ocean County

6. New York: Main Street Beach in Chautauqua County

7. New York: Wright Park – East in Chautauqua County

8. New York: Ontario Beach in Monroe County

9. Ohio: Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula County

10. Ohio: Arcadia Beach in Cuyahoga County

11. Ohio: Euclid State Park in Cuyahoga County

12. Ohio: Noble Beach in Cuyahoga County

13. Ohio: Sims Beach in Cuyahoga County

14. Ohio: Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County

15. Ohio: Edson Creek in Erie County

16. Wisconsin: South Shore Beach in Milwaukee County

Related on EcoSalon

5 Eco-Friendly Beach Vacations Off the Beaten Path

For Pregnant Women, Air Pollution is Just as Bad as Cigarettes

Is Your Facial Scrub Causing Water Pollution

Image: epSos .de