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
Ammos Beach is located 500m south of the center of Agios Nikolaos. It is a long beach which starts near the city's marina, at Nearchos Street. It runs near the stadium of the town and extends to the south, to the Municipal Beach. The part near the marina is a beautiful beach with umbrellas, sunbeds, showers, water sports, restaurants, and hotels around it. It is located near the city center and its stores. The water is shallow, ideal for little kids and the sea is usually flat.
The beach of Pahia Ammos (i.e. Coarse Sand) is located on the west side of Paleochora, 79km south of Chania. Pahia Ammos has been awarded with a blue flag, which confirms that this is a safe and clean beach.
Hersonissos is a very busy, touristic town located 28km east of Heraklion. 2km east of the Hersonissos port, you'll find several nice coves, that constitute the complex of east Hersonisos beaches.
Agios Onoufrios is a small seaside village of Akrotiri, which is located 8km north of Chania and close to Kounoupidiana. The village is actually a suburb of Chania, since it is very close to the city. It is named after the small chapel next to the beach that is dedicated to St. Onoufrios and celebrated on June 12.
Fodele beach is located 26km northwest of Heraklion and just 3km north of the village Fodele, which is believed to be the birthplace of the painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, mainly known as El Greco. The National Road connecting Heraklion and Chania passes beside the beach.
Adelianos Kampos (or Kambos) is located 6km east of Rethymnon, near the village of Adele, on a flat plain. The name means “Plain of Adele”. It is actually a seaside suburb of Rethymnon, as the small village has grown so much in the last century, that it is now a part of the city.
500m north of the legendary Mirabelo hotel you will find the tranquil beach of Havani, where a well organized municipal beach operates. In Havania there are options for accommodation and food. On the beach you will find a lifeguard and water sports. According to reports, during the years of Ottoman rule there was a small port and its remnants are still visible in the sea.
Madé (or Madés) is a small coastal village located near Ligaria, 20km northwest of Heraklion and 1.5km east of Ligaria beach. It is located near the northernmost edge of the Gulf of Heraklion, which called Cape Bourouni of Rogdia. To get this far from Heraklion, drive in the highway to Chania and take the exit of Ligaria. Just after 1.5km you will see a sign for Madé.