South Beach, Panama City Beach, and even the Florida Keys are all bested by a local beach that made the newest TripAdvisor list of Top 25 beaches in the country. It's Beaufort's own Hunting Island that is ranked seventh best beach in the United States, behind Hawaiian Islands only.
Several beach goers say that even the blue waters of Hawaii don't hold a candle to those of Hunting Island.
"You hear lots of children's laughter. We can bring our dog, of course, leashed," gloats Kate Hamilton-Pardee.
Hamilton-Pardee wasn't surprised to hear her favorite beach came in ranked seventh best in the country, in the Traveler's Choice rankings by TripAdvisor.
"In fact, I can't see the other six beating it," adds Dick Geier, President of Friends of Hunting Island State Park.
"The beach is unique," he says.
Although Hamilton-Pardee works in tourism in Nantucket, Massachusetts, she says the shores of Hunting Island are hard to rival.
"You have great sand. You can also walk for miles. You see great dolphins, which is such a treat, and it's just a well-kept park too," she says.
It's perhaps a well-kept secret to some, too. In Hamilton-Pardee's searching, she's come across no greater spot.
"I don't think there is, because I think I would have found it," she says.
Of the six Hawaiian beaches to top Hunting Island, Geier says they're missing out on what makes Hunting Island special.
"They're not next to a maritime forest, and that's what makes Hunting Island so unique," Geier says.
"You get on the beach, as it was hundreds of thousands of years ago."
"Once in a while you find a place that feels like home away from home, and Hunting Island is one of those places," adds Hamilton-Pardee.
Saint Pete Beach, Saint Andrew Beach, Panama City Beach, and Clearwater Beach are some of the Southeastern beaches Hunting Island beat out. To view the ranking, click here.
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