Greece, with its sun-drenched beaches and crystal-clear waters, continues to cement its place as a premier global destination for beach lovers. 2023 has been particularly noteworthy, as an impressive number of Greek beaches and marinas have earned the prestigious international “Blue Flag” award. With 617 beaches and 18 marinas adorning the honour, Greece proudly takes the second position worldwide, from which 139 are on Crete Island.
The “Blue Flag” program, initiated in 1987, has become a voluntary symbol of quality recognized globally. This year, 53 countries from across all continents participated in the program, managed internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). In Greece, the program’s coordination has been trusted to the Greek Society for the Protection of Nature (ΕΕΠΦ) since 1992.
What Does a Blue Flag Beach Mean?
A Blue Flag award is not merely an accolade for a beach’s beauty or popularity; it signifies a commitment to high standards that cover a broad range of factors. It’s not just about water purity, contrary to popular belief, but also includes numerous additional parameters.
To win this prestigious flag, the beach operator – often a municipality or a large hotel – must meet all 33 rigorous criteria set by the program. These include not only the quality of seawater, which is a basic prerequisite, but also the beach’s organization, health conditions, safety measures, information availability to bathers, cleanliness of the coast, and more.
Being awarded a Blue Flag involves expenses, staff hiring, special equipment, and ongoing efforts for the proper organization and operation of the beach.
What standards does a beach need to uphold to earn the Blue Flag award?
Beaches vying for this award are required to satisfy 33 key criteria established by FEE, with marinas and pleasure boats needing to adhere to 38 and 51 conditions respectively. The fundamental requirement for receiving this award is outstanding water quality; even a rating of ‘good’ won’t suffice.
Here, we outline the crucial standards that are considered for the Blue Flag. These are grouped into three major themes, each encompassing specific conditions.
Cleanliness of sea and beach:
Excellent bathing water quality that is verified by regular sampling carried out throughout the bathing season (1/6-31/10), according to the European Directive 2006/7/EC. The Special Secretariat for Water of the Ministry of Environment and Energy is responsible for implementing the “Bathing Water Monitoring Programme”.
No disposal of industrial and urban effluents close to the beach, without proper treatment.
Sufficient rubbish bins, which are emptied at regular intervals, as well as regular removal of all waste from the beach.
Beach facilities and visitor safety:
Information for the public about bathing water quality, regularly updated.
Εmergency plans to cope with a pollution accident, including immediate notification of the public.
Prohibition of automobile and motorcycle access to the beach.
Prohibition of free camping.
Sufficient toilet facilities, with a controlled system of waste disposal.
Trained lifeguards on duty, or immediate access to lifesaving and first-aid equipment and a telephone in case of an emergency.
Care and facilities for people with disabilities.
Ensuring that unattended pets do not have access to the beach.
Protection of nature and environmental awareness:
Printed information and code of conduct for the beach and surrounding areas with sensitive natural environment, flora or fauna.
Activities that promote awareness of the natural environment of the beach and the need to protect it.
Crete: The Island With the Most Blue Flags in Greece
Out of the total Greek tally, the island of Crete has emerged as a gem, claiming 139 Blue Flags – the highest among all Greek islands. These flags are spread across its four regions: Chania with 38, Rethymno with 20, Heraklion with 33, and Lasithi taking the lead with 48.
In the subsequent sections, we’ll delve deeper into a selection of these Crete beaches that have proudly earned the Blue Flag in 2023. We’ll also provide a comprehensive list of all the Blue Flag beaches in Crete for those planning their next visit to this stunning island.
The Blue Flags of Crete are not just an international recognition of the island’s stunning beaches and marinas. They stand testament to the unwavering commitment and hard work put in by the local municipalities, hoteliers, and the people of Crete in providing high-quality, safe, and clean beach experiences for locals and tourists alike. Join us as we embark on a journey across Crete’s Blue Flag beaches, showcasing the remarkable beauty and exceptional standards that make this island a true paradise.
List of Blue Flag beaches in Crete in 2023
Chania Region with a total of 38 Blue Flag beaches:
Koutsounari-Agios Ioannis/Sunshine Crete & Sunshine Crete Village
Crete, with its leading number of Blue Flags, epitomizes the commitment to quality and excellence that Greece represents. Whether it’s the azure water, pristine beaches, or the extensive facilities and services, the Blue Flag beaches of Crete promise an unmatched beach experience to all visitors. So the next time you’re planning a beach holiday, remember the Blue Flags flying high in Crete, signaling the best of what Greece has to offer.
Your Cretan Journey starts here
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