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MAP: Where are Spain’s Blue Flag beaches?

Spain currently has the most Blue Flag beaches in the world, but where are they and which region has the most? The Local has listed and categorised all 621 of them, so you can find the closest pristine 'playas' in your area.

MAP: Where are Spain's Blue Flag beaches?
Cala del Moraig in Alicante is one of many beaches in the Costa Blanca that has a blue flag. Photo: Eduardo Kenji Amorim/Unsplash

This year, 2022, Spain has been awarded a total number of 621 Blue Flag beaches, the most in the world, beating the likes of Greece, Turkey, France and Italy. 

Blue Flags are awarded to those beaches that meet demands on issues such as hygiene, sanitary conditions, safety, accessibility and the provision of lifeguards. 

Spain is once again the top country worldwide for Blue Flags awarded for their excellent water quality and environmental standards by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).

This year, six more Blue Flags have been awarded than in 2021. 

Click here to zoom into the Blue Flag interactive map and see where all the beaches are located and continue reading below to find out which region has the most and which ones they are. 

READ ALSO: Ten incredible natural swimming spots in Spain

Andalusia

It’s not surprising that the southern region of Andalusia is home to the second-highest number of Blue Flag beaches in Spain with 122 in total. The most are to be found in Almería, closely followed by Málaga and then Cádiz. 

Almería: Censo, El Carboncillo, San Nicolás, Sirena Loca, Almería, San Miguel de Cabo de Gata, Balanegra, El Ancón, El Corral, Las Marinicas, Playa de Villaricos, Pozo del Esparto, Balerma, Levante Almerimar, Poniente Almerimar, San Miguel, El Cantal, El Descargador, Lance Nuevo, Marina de la Torre, Piedra Villazar, Venta del Bancal Ventanicas, Aguamarga, San José, Calipso, Los Nardos, Mar Rabiosa Mar Serena, Aguadulce, La Bajadilla, Las Salinas, Romanillas Urbanización, Playa Serena Urbanización, Roquetas and El Playazo. 

Cádiz: Getares, Zahara de los Atunes, La Cortadura-Poniente, La Victoria, Santa María del Mar, La Barrosa, Sancti Petri, Camarón-La Laguna, Cruz del Mar-Canteras, Micaela, Regla, Tres Piedras-La Ballena, El Roche, La Fontanilla, Los Bateles, Fuentebravía, La Puntilla Santa Catalina, Valdelagrana, Galeones, La Ballena, La Costilla, Punta Candor, Puntalillo Rompidillo-Chorrillo, Camposoto-El Castillo, Alcaidesa- El Faro, Cala Sardina and El Palmar

Córdoba: La Breña

Granada: La Herradura, Marina del Este, Puerta del Mar, San Cristóbal Velilla, Sotillo-Castell, Calahonda, Playa Granada, La Guardia, Del Cañon-La Pelá (Azucenas), Torrenueva

Huelva: Isla Canela, Los Haraganes, Punta del Moral, Caño de la Culata, San Miguel, Santa Pura, La Casita Azul, Islantilla, Del Parador (Castilla), El Albergue

Málaga: Algarrobo Costa, Ardales, Fuente de la Salud, Torrebermeja-Santa Ana, Ancha, Boliches-Gaviotas Carvajal, Castillo, Fuengirola, Caleta, El Dedo, El Palo, Malagueta, Misericoria, Pedregalejo, San Andrés, Sabinillas, Adelfas-Alicate Casablanca, El Cable, El Faro, Puerto Banús-Levante, San Pedro de Alcántara (Guadalmina), Venus-Bajadilla, Calahonda I (Royal Beach – La Luna) El Bombo, La Cala, Burriana, Maro, Torrecilla, Los Álamos, El Morche, Ferrara, Benajarafe, La Caleta (Paseo) and Torre del Mar. 

Cabo de Gata beach

San Miguel de Cabo de Gata beach in Almería. Photo: José Antonio JG / Wikimedia Commons

Asturias

The region of Asturias has been awarded a modest 14 Blue Flag beaches, flanked by the Cantabrian Sea. 

Arnao, Salinas, Santa María del Mar, Arnao, Peñarronda, Concha de Artedo, San Pedro Bocamar, Aguilar, Frejulfe, Anguileiro,Cadavedo, Otur and La Ñora Rodiles. 

beach in Asturias

Playa de Salinas in Asturias. Photo: Angelrtz / Wikimedia Commons

Balearic Islands

The ever-popular Balearic Islands boast a total of 30 Blue Flag beaches, with the island of Mallorca home to the most. Formentera, the smallest of the Balearic Islands, which is recognised for its pristine beaches, does not count any Blue Flags on them because it is so small and didn’t apply to be considered.

Ibiza: Cala Sant Vicent, Cala Llenya, Es Canar and Es Figueral

Mallorca: Cala Ferrera, Cala Marçal, Cala Sa Nau, Porto Colom (Platja S’ Arenal), Muro, Cala Estància, Cala Major, Playa de Palma (El Arenal), Cala Barques, Cala Molins, Cala Millor (Cala Nau), Sa Coma, Can Picafort, Son Bauló, Son Serra, Cala Gran, Cala Llombards, Cala Mondragó (Sa Font de n’Alís), Cala Santanyí S’Amarador, Es Dolç (Es Port), Cala Millor and Es Ribell. 

Menorca: Cala en Porter, Son Bou and Cala Galdana. 

beach in Menorca

Sand dunes at Son Bou beach in Menorca. Photo: S. Morlin-Yron / Wikimedia Commons

Canary Islands

It’s not surprising that Spain’s tropical-esque Canary Islands have been awarded a total of 54 Blue Flag beaches, spread across seven of its islands. Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria all have an equal 12 each.  

Fuerteventura: Castillo, Corralejo Viejo, Grandes Playas, La Concha, Butihondo, Costa Calma, El Matorral, Morro Jable, Blanca, Los Pozos, Puerto Lajas and Gran Tarajal. 

Gran Canaria: Las Nieves, Arinaga, El Puertillo, Los Charcones, Sardina, El Burrero, Las Canteras, El Inglés, Hoya del Pozo, La Garita, Melenara and Salinetas. 

Lanzarote: El Reducto, Las Cucharas, Grande (Blanca), Matagorda, Pila de la Barrilla, Pocillos and Blanca. 

La Gomera: Santiago, La Cueva and San Sebastián de la Gomera.

El Hierro: La Restinga and Timijiraque.

La Palma: Bajamar, Los Cancajos, Charco Verde, Puerto Naos, Santa Cruz de la Palma and El Puerto de Tazacorte. 

Tenerife: El Duque, Torviscas, El Camisón, Las Vistas, El Muelle, Piscinas Naturales de El Caletón, Playa de la Jaquita, San Marcos, Socorro, Piscinas Naturales de Bajamar, Piscina Natural del Arenisco and La Arena (Mesa del Mar). 

View of a beach in Corralejo Natural Park. Fuerteventura is known for having the best beaches of all the Canary Islands. Photo: Myke Simon/Unsplash

Cantabria

Spain’s northern area known as Green Spain, may not have as many Blue Flag beaches as the southern regions, but Cantabria has still been awarded 11.

El Sable de Quejo, La Arena, Oriñón, Ostende, Comillas, Ris, Trengandín, Sable de Merón, Berria, El Sable de Tagle and Los Locos. 

Playa de Berria

Playa de Berria in the region of Cantabria. Photo: Tony Rotondas / Wikimedia Commons

READ ALSO: 12 pictures that show the true beauty of northern Spain’s beaches

Catalonia 

With one whole edge bordering the Mediterranean and its picturesque Costa Brava and Costa Daurada coastlines, it’s fitting that Catalonia is home to 94 Blue Flag beaches. Tarragona and the Costa Daurada boast the most. 

Barcelona: Cristall, Pescadors, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella, Sant Sebastià, Dels Tres Micos, Garbí, Canet, Del Baixador, Lluminetes, Llarga, El Masnou, Gavà Mar, Malgrat Centre, L’Astillero, Pescadors, La Riera, Les Barques, Aiguadolç, Balmins, Garraf, L’Estanyol, La Barra, La Ribera, Les Botigues, Sant Sebastiá, Terramar, D´Adarró, Ibersol, Ribes Roges and Sant Gervasi. 

Girona: Blanes, S’Abanell, Sant Francesc (Cala Bona), Cala Cristus-Ses Torretes, Es Monestrí, Sant Antoni, Torre Valentina, Cala Rovira, Platja Gran, Sa Conca, Del Port, Grifeu, Cala Canyelles, Lloret, Sa Boadella, Santa Cristina, Canadell, Llafranc, Tamariu, La Fosca, Port de la Selva, Sant Feliu, Sant Pol, Cala Montgó, Gran de Tossa and La Mar Menuda. 

Tarragona: Altafulla, Calafell, L’Estany Mas Mel, Segur de Calafell, Cavet, La Llosa Prat d’en Forés- El Regueral, Vilafortuny, Cunit Llevant, Cunit Ponent, Costa Daurada, Llarga, Capellans, Llevant, L’Arrabassada, La Móra, Savinosa, Tamarit, Barri Marítim, Els Muntanyans, La Paella, L’Almadrava, L’Arenal, La Punta del riu, El Torn, La Pineda, Les Cases d’Alcanar-El Marjal, Riumar, Calafató, Cala Forn, L’Alguer, Sant Jordi d’Alfama, Cap Roig, Les Avellanes, Les Delícies and Parc de Garbí. 

Costa Brava

Platja de Tamariu in Catalonia’s stunning Costa Brava. Photo: Isidro Jabato / Wikimedia Commons

Valencia 

Spain’s eastern region of Valencia takes the top spot for Blue Flag beaches with a whopping 139. Over half of these are in the Alicante province. 

Alicante: L’Albufereta, Postiguet, Saladar-Urbanova, Sant Joan Tabarca, Cap Blanc, La Roda, L’Espigó, Llevant, Mal Pas, Cala Baladrar, Cala Fustera, Cantal Roig, La Fossa, L’Arenal-Bol, Les Bovetes, Les Deveses, Les Marines, Marineta Cassiana, Molins, Punta del Raset, Carrer de la Mar, Mutxavista, Cala del Moraig, Arenals del Sol-Sur, Carabassí, L’Altet, La Marina, Les Pesqueres-El Rebollo, Centre, El Moncaio, La Roqueta, Dels Vivers, Racó de L’Albir, Aguamarina, Barranco, Rubio, Cabo Roig -La Caleta, Cala Capitán, Cala Cerrada, Cala Estaca, Cala Mosca, Campoamor-La Glea, La Zenia- Cala Bosque, Mil Palmeras, Punta Prima, Conde Higuericas, Jesuitas, Mil Palmeras, Puerto Rocamar, Calas del Este, Calas Santiago Bernabéu, La Ermita, Llevant, Tamarit, Varador, El Portet, La Ampolla, Les Platgetes, Cabo Cervera, Cala de las Piteras, El Cura, Los Locos, Los Náufragos, Torrelamata-Sur, Bon Nou, Ciutat (Centro), La Caleta, Paradís, Varadero, L´Arenal, Granadella and La Grava. 

Castellón: El Carregador, El Moro, La Romana, Manyetes, Benafeli, La Caracola, Morrongo, Dels Terrers, Heliópolis, L´Almadrava, Torre de Sant Vicent, Voramar, El Grao-Malvarrosa, L´Arenal, Gurugú, Pinar, Grao, L’Estanyol, Masbó, Pedra Roja, Marines, La Conxa, Les Amplaries, Morro de Gos, Plagetes de Bellver, Peñíscola Nord, Torreblanca Nord, Fora Forat, Forti, El Cerezo and Les Cases. 

Valencia: Bellreguard, Racó de la Mar, Cap Blanc, El Dossel, El Far, Escollera, Los Olivos, Marenyet-L’illa, Racó, Sant Antoni, Daimús, Auir, Nord, Norte, Miramar, L’ Aigua Morta, L’Aigua Blanca, Pau-Pi ,Terranova-Burguera, Piles, Puçol, Corint, L’Almardá, Port de Sagunt, La Goleta, Tavernes de la Valldigna, Cabanyal, El Saler, L’ Arbre del Gos, La Devesa, La Garrofera, Malva-Rosa, Recatí-Perellonet and Xeraco. 

Beach in Alicante

Cala de la Granadella in Alicante province. Photo: Diego Delso / Wikimedia Commons

Extremadura 

Extremadura may not have a coastline, but that hasn’t stopped it from being awarded several Blue Flag river and lake beaches. It’s home to a total of 8. 

Alange, Campanario, Los Calicantos, Isla del Zújar, La Dehesa, El Espolón-Peloche, Playa dulce de Orellana and Talarrubias-Puerto Peña. 

Galicia

Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Galicia’s wild windswept coastline has been awarded a total of 112 Blue Flag beaches. The province of Pontevedra is home to the most, while A Coruña follows close behind. 

A Coruña: As Lapas, Orzán-Matadero, Oza, Riazor, San Amaro, Caión, A Hucha, A Salsa (Repibelo), Barrañán, Combouzas, O Reiro, Porto de Suevos, Sabón, Valcobo, Lago de As Pontes, Gandarío, Arou, Pedra do Sal, Razo, Saíñas, Ézaro, A Fragata-O Pereixal, Doniños, Esmelle, San Xurxo, Laxe, Perbes-Andahío, Bastiagueiro, Espiñeiro, Mera, Naval, Santa Cristina, A Ermida, Balarés, O Osmo and Coroso. 

Lugo: A Pasada, Coto, Fontela Valea, A Marosa, O Portelo, Ril, O Torno, A Rapadoira, Areoura, As Polas, Llas, Peizás, Abrela, Xilloi, As Catedrais, Os Castros-Illas, Area and Esteiro. 

Pontevedra: Area Grande, O Muíño, Area da Secada, Bao (Camaxe), Barbeira, Concheira, Frades, Ladeira, Ribeira, Santa Marta, Area de Bon, Banda do Rio, Lagos, Lapamán, Portomaior, Areabrava, Areamilla, Liméns, Menduiña, Nerga, Aguete, Loira, Mogor, Portocelo, Santo de Mar – A Coviña, O Con, Cabeceira, Playa fluvial A Calzada, A Lapa, Agra Areas, Areas Gordas, Baltar, Bascuas, Canelas, Caneliñas, Foxos, Major, Montalvo, Nosa Señora da Lanzada, O Espiñeiro-A Lanzada, Panadeira, Paxariñas, Pragueira, Silgar, A Punta, Argazada, Canido, Carril, Fontaiña, Fortiñón, O Vao, Rodas (Islas Cíes), Samil, Santa Baia, Tombo do Gato, Campanario and Compostela. 

Playa de los Catedrales

Galicia’s famous As Catedrais beach where rock formations look like cathedrals. Photo: Fernando Maseda Mejuto / Pixabay

Madrid 

Even landlocked Madrid is home to one Blue Flag beach, the sandy surrounds of the banks of the San Martín de Valdeiglesias reservoir. This is now the fifth year, Virgen de la Nueva has had Blue Flag status. 

Virgen de la Nueva

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Murcia 

The small region of Murcia may not have anywhere near the number of Blue Flag beaches as its neighbour Valencia, but still has a respectable 27. 

Calarreona, La Carolina, La Casica, Verde, La Colonia, La Higuerica, Las Delicias, Levante, Matalentisco, Poniente, Cala Cortina, Isla Plana, La Azohía-El Cuartel, La Chapineta, Levante-Cabo de Palos, San Ginés, Calnegre, Alamillo, Bahía Del Mojón, Del Puerto, Grande-Castellar, Nares, Rihuete, Banco del Tabal-Calnegre, Ensenada del Esparto, Pedrucho and El Mojón. 

Basque Country

Bordering the Bay of Biscay, the Basque Country’s beaches may be known more for surfing than for relaxing and swimming, but three of these have Blue Flag status. 

Landa, Moskurio (Garaio Norte) and Salurriaga (Garaio Sur). 

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

REVEALED: Countries fear non-EU travellers face delays under new EES border checks

A number of countries in Europe's Schengen area admit they fear delays and insufficient time to test the process ahead of new, more rigorous EU border checks that will be introduced next year, a new document reveals.

REVEALED: Countries fear non-EU travellers face delays under new EES border checks

Schengen countries are tightening up security at the external borders with the introduction of a new digital system (EES) to record the entry and exit of non-EU citizens in May 2023.

The EES will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. It will register the person’s name, type of the travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit. The data will be kept in a centralised database on a rolling three-year basis that is re-set at each entry. 

What the EES is intended to do is increase border security, including the enforcement of the 90-day short-stay limit for tourists and visitors.

EU citizens and third-country nationals who reside in a country of the Schengen area will not be subject to such checks as long as they can prove residency in an EU country however they will still be caught up in any delays at passport control if the new system as many fear, causes longer processing times.

READ ALSO: Foreigners living in EU not covered by new EES border checks

But given its scale, the entry into operation of the system has been raising concerns on many fronts, including the readiness of the physical and digital infrastructure, and the time required for border checks, which could subsequently cause massive queues at borders.

A document on the state of preparations was distributed last week by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties.

The paper contains the responses from 21 countries to a questionnaire about potential impacts on passenger flows, the infrastructure put in place and the possibility of a gradual introduction of the new system over a number of months.

This is what certain the countries have responded. Responses from Denmark, Spain and Sweden do not appear in the report but the answers from other countries will be relevant for readers in those countries.

READ ALSO: What the EU’s new EES border check system means for travel

‘Double processing time’

Austria and Germany are the most vocal in warning that passport processing times will increase when the EES will become operational.

“The additional tasks resulting from the EES regulation will lead to a sharp increase in process times”, which are expected to “double compared to the current situation,” Austrian authorities say. “This will also affect the waiting times at border crossing points (in Austria, the six international airports),” the document continues.

“Furthermore, border control will become more complicated since in addition to the distinction between visa-exempt and visa-required persons, we will also have to differentiate between EES-required and EES-exempt TCN [third country nationals], as well as between registered and unregistered TCN in EES,” Austrian officials note.

Based on an analysis of passenger traffic carried out with the aviation industry, German authorities estimate that checking times will “increase significantly”.

France expects to be ready for the introduction of the EES “in terms of passenger routes, training and national systems,” but admits that “fluidity remains a concern” and “discussions are continuing… to make progress on this point”.

Italy is also “adapting the border operational processes… in order to contain the increased process time and ensure both safety and security”.

“Despite many arguments for the introduction of automated border control systems based on the need for efficiency, the document makes clear that the EES will substantially increase border crossing times,” Statewatch argues.

‘Stable service unlikely by May 2023’

The border infrastructure is also being adapted for collecting and recording the data, with several countries planning for automated checks. So what will change in practice?

France will set up self-service kiosks in airports, where third-country nationals can pre-register their biometric data and personal information before being directed to the booth for verification with the border guard. The same approach will be adopted for visitors arriving by bus, while tablet devices such as iPads will be used for the registration of car passengers at land and sea borders.

Germany also plans to install self-service kiosks at the airports to “pre-capture” biometric data before border checks. But given the little time for testing the full process, German authorities say “a stable working EES system seems to be unlikely in May 2023.”

Austria intends to install self-service kiosks at the airports of Vienna and Salzburg “in the course of 2023”. Later these will be linked to existing e-gates enabling a “fully automated border crossing”. Austrian authorities also explain that airport operators are seeking to provide more space for kiosks and queues, but works will not be completed before the system is operational.

Italy is increasing the “equipment of automated gates in all the main  airport” and plans to install, at least in the first EES phase, about 600 self-service kiosks at the airports of Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Venice and in those with “significant volumes of extra-Schengen traffic,” such as Bergamo, Naples, Bologna and Turin.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member but is part of the Schengen area, is also installing self-service kiosks to facilitate the collection of data. Norway, instead, will have “automated camera solutions operated by the border guards”, but will consider self-service options only after the EES is in operation.

Gradual introduction?

One of the possibilities still in consideration is the gradual introduction of the new system. The European Commission has proposed a ‘progressive approach’ that would allow the creation of “incomplete” passenger files for 9 months following the EES entry into operation, and continuing passport stamping for 3 months.

According to the responses, Italy is the only country favourable to this option. For Austria and France this “could result in more confusion for border guards and travellers”. French officials also argue that a lack of biometric data will “present a risk for the security of the Schengen area”.

France suggested to mitigate with “flexibility” the EES impacts in the first months of its entry into service. In particular, France calls for the possibility to not create EES files for third-country nationals who entered the Schengen area before the system becomes operational, leaving this task to when they return later.

This would “significantly ease the pressure” on border guards “during the first three months after entry into service,” French authorities said.

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