Tag Archives: Spain beaches

Blue Flag Beaches 2010

Cofete Beach

The Blue Flag Beach awards for 2010 were announced in May and the total number of beach awards increased by one hundred and forty-one.  Sadly the United Kingdom did not make a contribution to this improvement as the total number of blue flag beaches in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reduced by thirteen (nearly 10% of the total) to one hundred and thirty-one.  Spain increased by twenty-nine and still tops the list by a long way (one hundred and one) from Greece who only increased by two this year. Included in the twenty-nine was a deserved reinstatement of the blue flag for Benidorm’s Poniente Beach, which was temporarily lost last year during improvement works.

The biggest improvement was France with fifty-eight new beaches.  I think they must have made a special effort this year as this was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the award scheme that was started in France in 1985under the name “Pavillon Bleu”.  To commemorate this special occasion a celebration was held in Mers-les-Bains in northern France on the 28th May and twenty-five blue flags were raised by the beach and the biggest Blue Flag ever welcomed the numerous guests.  I was interested in that because next month I have a holiday in France and Mers-les-Bains is on my list of places to visit.  This improvement was enough to move France from fourth to third place in the overall list of countries, in doing so overtaking Turkey, who did well themselves with an improvement increase of thirty-five beaches.

In the United Kingdom I was pleased to see Lincolnshire do well with three beaches at Skegness, Mablethorpe and Sutton-on-Sea but overall the performance has to be seen as disappointing when eighteen out of thirty-nine countries improved this year and only five slipped back.  This has helped me make up my mind to keep travelling to the clean beaches of Europe for the foreseeable future.

Top ten Blue Flag beaches in 2010:

1 Spain 522
2 Greece 421
3 France 321
4 Turkey 314
5 Portugal 241
6 Italy 226
7 Denmark 216
8 United Kingdom 131
9 Croatia 116
10 Ireland 74

Blue Flag Beaches – Original Blog Post


Blue Flag Beaches

Cofete Beach Fuerteventura Canary Islands

The Blue Flag beach award was originally conceived in France in 1985 where the first coastal municipalities were awarded the Blue Flag on the basis of criteria covering standards relating to sewage treatment and bathing water quality.

Two years later, 1987 was the ‘European Year of the Environment’ and the concept of the Blue Flag was developed as a European initiative by the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe to include other areas of environmental management, such as waste disposal and coastal planning and protection and in that first year two hundred and forty four beaches from ten countries were awarded the new Blue Flag status.  Twenty-two years later in 2009 when the updated list was published in June there were two thousand seven hundred and ten (up by ninety-eight from 2008).

Thirty-eight countries are currently participating in the Blue Flag Programme: Bahamas, Belgium-Flanders, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and Wales,

Spain has more blue flag beaches than any other participating country with four hundred and ninety-three along almost five thousand kilometres of coastline.  Andalusia has the most kilometres of blue flag beach but in absolute terms, Galicia is the community with more blue flags (124), followed by Catalonia (108), Valencian Community (101), the Balearics (85), Andalusia (83), the Canary Islands (35), Murcia (16), Asturias (12), Basque Country (3) and Ceuta and Melilla (2 each).

The United Kingdom by comparison, has only one hundred and seven in nearly twelve thousand five hundred kilometres.  Sadly this is thirty-seven beaches down on the previous year, which means we must be getting dirtier. Greece has the second most blue flags at four hundred and twenty-five  (down five) and the most in the Mediterranean Sea.  Even though France increased its successful beaches from two hundred and thirty-eight to two hundred and sixty-three it has been replaced in third spot by Turkey, which has increased by fifty-one to two hundred and eighty-six. Portugal completes the top five list with two hundred and twenty five beaches.

What is interesting however is to put this into context by relating success in terms of numbers to the total length of coastline because that reveals that Slovenia has a blue flag beach every six kilometres, Portugal every eight and Spain every ten.  In the United Kingdom you have to travel one hundred and sixteen kilometres between each blue flag beach and that puts us twenty fifth out of the top twenty-five.  That is even worse than our annual performance in the Eurovision song contest!  Mind you would have to travel a lot further in Norway because it has only three blue flag beaches in eighty-three thousand kilometres of coast (including all the fjords of course).

Blue-flag-beaches 2010 update

jurmala blue flag

To be honest I am not really a beach person, I get quickly bored and I think that sand is completely incompatible with the intimate nooks and crannies of the human body but one blue flag beach that I have visited and enjoyed is Jurmala in Latvia (in the picture above receiving its blue flag in 2007).

The first time that I saw Jurmala was in June 2006 and it was a real eye opener because this was a very high quality beach with miles of scrupulously clean sand, three blue flags and a clear Baltic Sea stretching out over the Gulf of Riga towards Sweden over the horizon.  I had expected the sea to be grey and forbidding like the North Sea of my childhood holidays but instead it was a serene denim blue and looked genuinely inviting.  There were a few holidaymakers on the beach but not many in the sea because I suspect that looks were deceptive and that the Baltic remains fairly inhospitable for most of the year.

Under the Communist regime up until 1991 this was a popular destination for high-level Communist Party officials and it was a favourite destination of Russian Presidents Brezhnev and Khrushchev.  I cannot help finding it ironic that Blue Flags should be awarded to a Red Army beach.

Some nice beaches that I recommend:

Ambleteuse, France

Mwnt Beach, South Wales

Galicia Blue Flag Beaches

Cofete Beach


Portimão, Carvoeiro, Praia Vale de Centianes and Silves

Kefalonia, Fiskardo and Assos

Kefalonia, Villages and Beaches

Kefalonia, Lassi and Hotel Mediterranee

Benidorm 1977- Beaches, the Old Town and Peacock Island

Greece 2009 – Ios, Beaches and Naturists

Serifos Psili-Ammos

Cephalonia beach