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
Mavros Molos (i.e. black jetty) beach is located just in front of Kissamos town, 36km west of Chania. Mavros Molos is a long gulf, on which remains of the ancient port of Kissamos have been found.
Chiona means carob storehouse in the Cretan dialect and is taken after the storehouses that were usually built next to the shore in order to transfer carobs with ships. Indeed the area was known for trading carobs. Here you can have a perfect day, especially if you combine your visit to Chiona with eating at the famous local fish taverns of Batis and Amanakis.
The beach is the longest in the area with a length exceeding 1.5km, bounded on the north by the Cape Tenta and on the south by the Cape Plaka. It has fine brown sand, shallow turquoise waters, and several tamarisk trees around it. It is slightly organized in some areas with umbrellas, showers, and beach bars.
In front of the suburbs of Rethymnon stretches a long sandy beach, which is an extension of vast beachfront that starts near the harbor of Rethymno and extends to the east for 13km. It is very well organized, with a plethora of choices for food, drink and accommodation.
If you exclude the repelling landscape of tanks, you will certainly be enchanted by the beautiful beaches of Kali Limenes, which are suitable for swimming all year round. As its name name suggests, sea in Kali Limenes (i.e. Fair Harbors) is almost always calm, except in winter. This was one of the reasons for the construction of the tanks here. If you visit the place on weekend, all its beaches are crowded by thousands of people, despite the tiring route in Asterousia.
Geropotamos is located about 18km east of Rethymnon and 3km west of Panormo. It is named after the homonym river that empties in the east end of the beach. The small beach is sandy and has crystal clear water, which is very cool because of the river, which has water all year round and forms a small deep lake near the shore.
Kokkinos Pirgos (i.e. Red Tower) is located 67km west of Heraklion and close to the town of Tymbaki. The name is taken after the tower that was there and was built with reddish soil. The purpose of this tower at this point is still unknown. It is the seaside village of Timbaki, home of the port of the region and developed touristically.
Kolimbari is fairly well developed, mainly due to the beautiful long beach that stretches in front of the village and extends east to Tavronitis. The beach in Kolimbari is sandy and in some places has small pebbles. The water is deep, but usually wavy (like all the open beaches of northern Crete).