Blue Flag

blue flagThe Blue Flag Programme is an international system for awarding beaches and marinas that meet some strict criteria. More than 3500 beaches throughout the world have been awarded with the Blue Flag, with Greek beaches being one of the most awarded. In Greece, the Blue Flag Programme is supported by the Greek Society for the Protection of Nature, which determines which beaches meet the relevant criteria.

The award of a blue flag beach is based on compliance with 32 strict criteria covering the aspects of environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, safety and services

Because the program is an indicator of proper management of the beaches and their quality, Cretans have made great efforts for classifying as many beaches in the Blue Flag program, as possible. Most beaches are located on the northern coast of the island, which are the most touristy, but there are some on the south coasts.

The Blue Flag beaches of Crete (2014)

The beaches of Chania that have been awarded with the Blue Flag are , , , , , , , , , the two beaches of the , , , , . On the south, the awarded beaches are the beaches of Paleochora (, , ), and . Others are and

In Rethymno, the beaches that have been awarded are located on the long beachfront of till , , , , , ,  and .

The beaches of Heraklion prefecture include some parts of , , several beaches in ,  and , ,  and .

Finally, Lassithi has the most awarded beaches. Blue Flag has been awarded to all the beaches near the town of Agios Nikolaos (, , , , , , , , , , some ,  near Elounda, , , ), the beaches near Ierapetra (the city's , , , , , , , , ), Sitia area beaches (the  of the town, , , palmgrove), Zakros area () and  beach, near Sissi. 

Criteria for awarding the Blue Flag 

The award of a blue flag beach is based on the following criteria.

Environmental Education and Information

  • Information about the Blue Flag must be displayed
  • Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users
  • Information about bathing water quality must be displayed
  • Information relating to local eco-systems and environmental phenomena must be displayed
  • A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed
  • A code of conduct that reflects appropriate laws governing the use of the beach and surrounding areas must be displayed

Water quality

  • The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements
  • The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water quality analysis
  • No industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area
  • The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the microbiological parameter faecal coli bacteria (E.coli) and intestinal enterococci/streptococci
  • The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the following physical and chemical parameters\

Environmental Management

  • The local authority/beach operator should establish a beach management committee
  • The local authority/beach operator must comply with all regulations affecting the location and operation of the beach
  • The beach must be clean
  • Algae vegetation or natural debris should be left on the beach
  • Waste disposal bins/containers must be available at the beach in adequate numbers and they must be regularly maintained
  • Facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials should be available at the beach
  • An adequate number of toilet or restroom facilities must be provided
  • The toilet or restroom facilities must be kept clean 
  • The toilet or restroom facilities must have controlled sewage disposal
  • On the beach there will be no unauthorised camping or driving and no dumping
  • Access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled
  • All buildings and beach equipment must be properly maintained
  • Coral reefs in the vicinity of the beach must be monitored
  • A sustainable means of transportation should be promoted in the beach area

Safety and services

  • An adequate number of lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be available at the beach
  • First aid equipment must be available on the beach
  • Emergency plans to cope with pollution risks must be in place
  • There must be management of different users and uses of the beach so as to prevent conflicts and accidents
  • There must be safety measures in place to protect users of the beach
  • A supply of drinking water should be available at the beach
  • At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have access and facilities provided for the physically disabled
Programme Website: www.blueflag.org