Once again, the Jersey Shore gets no major love from Dr. Beach.

The Miami, Fla.-based researcher, Stephen B. Leatherman, is out with his yearly America's Best Beaches list, and New York and Massachusetts crack the Top 10, but not New Jersey.

No, the problem wasn't erosion, syringes or jellyfish, he explained early this afternoon.

"I like Long Beach Island a lot," he said. "It has probably the finest sand and the clearest water in that area. It's really quite nice."

Leatherman, director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research, once did a Top 50 list that included Island Beach State Park, with its miles of unspoiled beaches south of Seaside Heights.

"If you want to see more nature, go to Island Beach State Park," said the professor of environmental studies.

So no snub intended, although development and crowding along the Shore diminished its chances.

"I do like the Delaware beaches, too," he said, because they're quieter and less congested than many.

"It's really hard to be on the Top 10 list, let's face it," he said, especially with so many great beaches in Florida, Hawaii and the Carolinas.

Beaches outside the 50 states were excluded, so Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, for example, didn't count.

Surprisingly, only one California beach makes his list.

That's because the water's relatively cold, the surf can be dangerous, and the sands are often overcrowded.

California also has America's worst beach, he said.

It's Border Field State Park in San Diego, where raw sewage sweeps up from Mexico's Tijuana River.

"So that's a problem," he said.

Other rankings have given the Jersey Shore its props.

Cape May is one of the 25 best beaches in the world, according to the Travel Channel's website.

Ocean City, recently voted the best beach in New Jersey, made the site's top eight for the Northeast.

Wildwood won the statewide contest last year.

Cape May made the best American beaches list in a 2007 article in Conde Nast's Traveler.

But Jersey apparently wouldn't even make Leatherman's Top 25. That's because 16 past winners weren't even considered - 10 in Hawaii, five in Florida, and one in North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Leatherman has been doing his rankings since 1991, using 50 criteria, including water temperature, sand, safety, cleanliness, overdevelopment and facilities.

His website, drbeach.org, does have a page about New Jersey, where he singles out more beaches for praise.

Atlantic City: "Top Novelty Beach in the Northeast because here you can truly 'gamble on the shore.' "

North Wildwood: "The widest beach in New Jersey and perhaps on the East Coast."

Cape May: "America's oldest seaside resort and a great place to visit."

Here is Dr. Beach's latest list:

America's Best Beaches 2009

1. Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

2. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Fla.

3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, N.Y.

4. Coronado Beach, San Diego.

5. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii.

6. Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.

7. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, N.C.

8. Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Fla.

9. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.

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

Previous winners, Dr. Beach's Best Beaches

(All names withheld from later lists)

1991 Kapalua, Hawaii

1992 Bahia Honda State Recreation Area (SRA), Fla.

1993 Hapuna, Hawaii

1994 Grayton Beach SRA, Fla.

1995 St. Andrews SRA, Fla.

1996 Lanikai Beach, Hawaii

1997 Hulopoe, Hawaii

1998 Kailua Beach Park, Hawaii

1999 Wailea, Hawaii

2000 Kaunaoa (Mauna Kea), Hawaii

2001 Poipu Beach Park, Hawaii

2002 St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Fla.

2003 Kaanapali, Hawaii

2004 Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

2005 Fort Desoto Park's North Beach, St. Petersburg, Fla.

2006 Fleming Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii.

2007 Ocracoke Lifeguard Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina.

2008 Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Fla.

Winners of New Jersey's 2009 Best Beach Contest

(Sponsored by the N.J. Marine Sciences Consortium/New Jersey Sea Grant and Stevens Institute of Technology)

1. Ocean City.

2. Long Beach Island.

3. Wildwood.

4. Wildwood Crest.

5. Asbury Park.

6. North Wildwood.

7. Cape May.

8. Seaside Heights.

9. Sea Isle City.

10. Avalon.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.