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 beach of Malia is the eastern part of the vast beach (6km length) starting from Stalis. It is a wide beach with fine sand and shallow waters. It is so crowded that there is no space between the sunbeds to fit a pin! Here you can find whatever comfort you ask.
The Coves of Hersonissos are located 27km east of Heraklion, starting from Cape Sarandaris and continuing to the east till the harbour of Hersonissos. They are really beautiful beaches with calm waters, since Cape Sarandaris protects them from the northwest winds.
It is actually the last beach of the vast beachfront of Plakias, called Yialia, which starts at Shinaria, several kilometers away. Unlike the true meaning of the name (the Latin word suda means narrow passage), the bay of Souda is quite large.
The main beach of Nea Chora is very well organized, with several amenities nearby. It is a nice sandy beach, with rocks in some places. Nea Chora is ideal for those that do not want to leave the city centre.
The sandy beach of Rethymno is located just 1km east of the city centre, next to the Venetian port. It's a lovely beach with golden sand and crystal clear shallow waters, very well organized and close to all amenities of the city.
Panormo is situated about 20km east of Rethymno, in the region of Milopotamos. It is a tranquil resort, which has met a fast development in recent years, without however losing its traditional face. The wild beauty of the pure Cretan landscapes, the picturesque village, the beautiful beaches, and easy access, have contributed to this development.
Ammoudara is a long beach which starts 1km west of the center of Heraklion and reaches the mouth of the river Almyros, 7km on the west. Ammoudara is today a suburb of Heraklion, with thousands of visitors every year, mainly because of the vast beach.
The seaside village of Platanias is located 11km west of Chania. The wider area has faced a great development during the last decades and now is actually a suburb of Chania. The village is built on a hillside with fantastic view. During summer nights, the great clubs in the area host thousands of people, both Greeks and foreigners, who dance until dawn.