When most people think Spain, they think sand. Spain is a country famed for its beaches and for its coastline which is more than 7,500 kilometres long. There are more than 3,000 beaches in Spain, which means that you really are spoilt for choice if you choose to take your summer holiday in this beautiful country.
Not only does Spain have an abundance of beaches, it is also a country blessed with a huge number of Blue Flag beaches: in 2022 there are currently 621 registered Blue Flag beaches located all around the country, which means where you’re in Spain you’re never far away from a beautiful and well-preserved beach location. The blue flag is awarded to beaches that have high levels of hygiene and safety, adhere to accessibility standards ensuring that they’re accessible to all, and provide highly qualified lifeguards. Sadly, not every beach can be a blue flag beach.
The Spanish environmental group Ecologists in Action has created a ’Black Flag’ beach standard to draw attention to the beaches in the country that are the opposite of the Blue Flag beaches Spanish tourism officials promote. Black Flag beaches are beaches which experience at least one (and sometimes all) of the following issues:
- Overcrowding from tourism
- Poor waste management
- Nearby building projects or port expansions
- An accumulation of rubbish on the beach or along the coastline
- Coastal erosion and other signs of a negative impact on the coastline’s biodiversity.
Ecologists in Action have awarded 48 beaches in Spain the Black Flag award for 2022, using the criteria outlined above to analyse more than 8,000 kilometres of Spanish coastline. Here is a comprehensive list of each of those 48 beaches, divided by province, and the reason that the beach has been awarded Black Flag status:
- Playa de La Antilla, Huelva for waste poor management
- Ría de Huelva for contamination
- El Palmar, Cádiz for contamination
- Playa Mangueta, Cádiz for the illegal extraction of water
- Barbate, Cádiz for contamination
- The beaches of Málaga for poor waste management
- Paraje Natural Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo for contamination
- Playa de La Charca-Salomar, Granada for poor waste management.
- Playa de La Rábita, Granada for contamination.
- Costa de Levante, Almería for poor waste management
- Cuevas de Almanzora, Almería for contamination
- Regasificadora de Xixón for poor waste management
- Ria de Avilés for contamination
- Alcúdia Port for poor waste management
- Porto Colom for contamination
- The River Nervión around the Guggenheim for poor waste management
- The River Barbadun for contamination
- Puerto de Mutriku for poor waste management
- Monte Antondegi for contamination
- Playa del Charco de la Araña in Tenerife for poor waste management and contamination
- Playa del Waikiki (La Goleta) in Fuertevenura for poor waste management
- Municipal beaches of Yaiza in Lanzarote for contamination
- The Cantabrian coast near caravan parks for poor waste management
- Bajo Asón for contamination
- Platja del Trabucador, Tarragona for poor waste management
- Municipal beaches of Tarragona for contamination.
- Beaches next to Barcelona airport for poor waste management
- Barcelona port for contamination
- Pineda d’en Gori, Girona for poor waste management
- The small inlets in the Costa Brava for contamination only when there are boat parties known as abarlofarra
- Municipal beaches of Vigo for poor waste management
- Estuario de la Foz for contamination
- Ría de O Burgo for the dredging of sediments
- Minas de San Finx for contamination
- Illa Pancha for poor waste management
- Playa de Arealonga for contamination
- Mar Menor for poor waste management and contamination
- Bahía de Portmán and Sierra Minera for contamination
- Beaches in the municipality of Calp for poor waste management
- Cala Lanuza and Cala Baeza for contamination
- Dunes at Playa de Tavernes de la Valldigna for overuse by tourists and festivals
- Playa del Triador for poor waste management
- Playa de Les Fonts for contamination
If you’re looking to spend time in Spain this summer then there is an abundance of beautiful beaches to explore, and it is testament to the Spanish authorities that only 46 of over 3,000 beaches in the region have been awarded this ‘Black Flag’ status. Avoid these beaches if you can, and you’ll be assured a fantastic Spanish beach holiday.
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