With summer steadily approaching, if not in full swing quite yet, South Africans should be overjoyed to note that no less than 36 of our country’s beautiful beaches and four marinas have been awarded Blue Flag status.
The voluntary eco-label is given to beaches that meet 32 main criteria covering four aspects of coastal management: water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management as well as safety and services, making it an honour not to be scoffed at or taken lightly. These criteria are set by the Foundation for Environmental Education, a NGO promoting sustainable development. Blue Flag status is awarded for a year at a time, and renewed if the beach consistently meets all criteria.
Blue Flag was started in Europe in 1987 with the sole purpose of encouraging beaches to comply with the European Union’s Bathing Water Directive. From that starting point, the programme has grown and developed significantly.
There are currently 40 countries across the globe that take part in the Blue Flag programme and 3489 beaches have been awarded the accolade.
Starting with only three beaches in 2001 the local programme has shown immense growth under management of the Marine and Coastal Management division of the former Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism and WESSA, boasting an increase of 9 beaches from last year’s 27.
This is also the first year that four marinas attain full Blue Flag status. They are: Yachtport Marina in Saldanha, The Water Club in Granger Bay, False Bay yacht club in Simonstown and Royal Alfred Marina in Port Alfred.
Of the 36 beaches gaining Blue Flag status this year, a whopping 23 are located in the Western Cape. KZN boasts eight (of which none are in Durban), while the Eastern Cape has four. The Western Cape is also the winner where marinas are concerned, being home to three of the four, with the Eastern Cape taking seconds.
While all of the beaches retain Blue Flag status year-round, the availability of certain services – lifeguards, cleaners and security staff – depend on their peak seasons. The KZN beaches with their warm water and the favourable sub-tropical climate are popular year-round, which means that the Blue Flag services are available from January to December. The less temperate Cape beaches’ full Blue Flag season is set for the busiest period, lasting anything between two and four months. McDougall’s Bay in Port Nolloth’s season only lasts for a month over December holidays.
So, with no further ado, ladies and gentleman, your Blue Flag beaches for 2012/2013
Photo: Gone Fishing
McDougall’s Bay (Port Nolloth)
City of Cape Town
Photo: Camps Bay (Shutterstock)
Bikini (Gordon’s Bay)
Photo: Hawston Beach (Tourism Cape Town)
Photo: Lappiesbaai. Blue Flag
Photo: Santos (85HillStreet)
Photo: Toothfairy Tours
Photo: Buffalo Bay (Essential Travel info)
Photo: Nature’s Valley (Valley Holidays)
Robberg V (Plettenberg Bay)
Photo: Saruna Guest House
Dolphin Beach (Jeffrey’s Bay)
Nelson Mandela Metro
Photo: Kelly’s Beach (internet accommodation)
Kelly’s (Port Alfred)
Photo: Lucien (Seaside holidays)
Alkanstrand (Richard’s Bay)