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Long Island beach ranks among nation's best

Steven Leatherman, the Florida International University professor better

Steven Leatherman, the Florida International University professor better known as "Dr. Beach," ranked Main Beach in East Hampton the third-best beach in the United States. (March 2, 2011) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Although we might sometimes take it for granted, we knew it all along: Long Island's miles of sandy Atlantic shores boast some of the country's best beaches.

Sun and surf seekers come from miles around to lay their blankets on Jones Beach, Robert Moses, Long Beach. And today we get national recognition for an East End gem: Main Beach in East Hampton came in at No. 3 on Dr. Beach's annual list of the best beaches in the U.S.

Main Beach even came out ahead of some popular vacation spots, including two iconic tropical-paradise beaches in Hawaii! It's so popular that the $325 nonresident season passes, which become available each year in February, typically sell out by April. Its ranking is up from No. 4 in 2011, which also was up one spot from its fifth place in 2010. Before that, it spent two years in the sixth spot. At this rate, it could be topping the list by 2014, if past performance is any indication of future results.

Here's Dr. Beach's entire 2012 list:

1. Coronado Beach, Coronado, Calif.

2. Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Honolulu

3. Main Beach, East Hampton

4. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle

5. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii

6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod

7. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii

8. Cape Florida State Park near Miami

9. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, S.C.

10. Cape Hatteras in North Carolina

So the next time you're considering laying out some serious bucks to fly to South Carolina, Florida or a Pacific island, you might want to keep your money in your wallet and jump on the LIE.

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