New Blue Flag beaches

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

Northern Cape

Photo: Gone Fishing

McDougall’s Bay (Port Nolloth)

Western Cape

City of Cape Town

Photo: Camps Bay (Shutterstock)

Silverstroomstrand

Clifton IV

Camps Bay

Llandudno

Muizenberg

Strandfontein

Mnandi (Khayalitsha)

Bikini (Gordon’s Bay)

Overstrand

Photo: Hawston Beach (Tourism Cape Town)

Kleinmond

Hawston

Grotto (Hermanus)

Hessequa

Photo: Lappiesbaai. Blue Flag

Lappiesbaai (Stilbaai)

Witsand

Mossel Bay

Photo: Santos (85HillStreet)

Santos

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Hartenbos

Eden

Photo: Toothfairy Tours

Wilderness

Knysna

Photo: Buffalo Bay (Essential Travel info)

Buffalo Bay

Brenton

Bitou

Photo: Nature’s Valley (Valley Holidays)

Robberg V (Plettenberg Bay)

Keurboomstrand

Nature’s Valley

Eastern Cape

Kouga

Photo: Saruna Guest House

Dolphin Beach (Jeffrey’s Bay)

Nelson Mandela Metro

Photo: PE.org.za

Humewood

Ndlambe

Photo: Kelly’s Beach (internet accommodation)

Kariega

Kelly’s (Port Alfred)

KZN

Hibiscus Coast

Photo: Lucien (Seaside holidays)

Trafalgar

Marina

Ramsgate

Lucien (Margate)

Southport

Umzumbe

Hibberdene

Umhlatuze

Photo: Richemp 

Alkanstrand (Richard’s Bay)

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