The 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 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
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\
- 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
The seaside village of Agia Marina is located just 9km west of Chania. It is one of the most popular resorts in Chania, with thousands of hotels and all types of touristic infrastructure. The village is named after the local church of Agia Marina.
Sissi (or Sisi) is located 26km west of Agios Nikolaos and 41km east of Heraklion, in close proximity to Malia. It is a peaceful traditional village with narrow streets and beautiful taverns. Its trademark is the harbor with the clean and calm waters.
Kato Zakros is a traditional fishing village located 107km east of Agios Nikolaos and 40km east of Sitia. It is the picturesque harbor of Zakros village (located 7km on the west), situated in a fertile valley with olive groves surrounded by rough mountains. The area is one of the most remote areas of Crete and is ideal for those seeking tranquility, away from the bustling daily life of cities.
The Golden Beach (greek: Hrissi Akti) is located 2.5km west of Chania and a few meters east of Agii Apostoli. It actually consists of two sandy beaches separated by a small hill. The west cove is the main Golden Beach and the east one is called Aptera Beach.
Kato Stalos, which is the coastal part of Stalos, has a fantastic sandy beach. The beach is very well organized and is providing all the possible touristic services. For this reason, the beach is awarded every year with blue flag.
Potamos is a long sandy beach, very well organized, but less crowded than the main beach of Malia. The region, particularly its east part, is not developed due to the archaeological site. However, in the west of the beach, there are several hotels with small bays in front of them.
Myrtos is located 13km west of Ierapetra, in the output of a wide valley filled with greenhouses and citrus groves, crossed by the River Kryos. It is a small seaside village, which has experienced a mild form of development in recent years, which fortunately has not altered its traditional style. The village is built on the exit of the imposing Sarakina Gorge, which is worth visiting.
Marathi hosts two beautiful beaches with fine sand and shallow calm waters, ideal for children. They are very well protected from the winds, as they look to the south and have a nice view of Drapanos Cape and the White Mountains. The beaches are separated by a small pier, which serves as a harbor. It is well organized with all the necessary amenities nearby.