REVEALED: The Black Flag beaches in Spain you may want to avoid

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected]
REVEALED: The Black Flag beaches in Spain you may want to avoid
The Mar Menor beaches in Murcia are notoriously some of the most polluted in Spain. (Photo by Jose Miguel FERNANDEZ / AFP)

If you, like many in Spain this summer, will be heading to the beaches, be aware that there are 48 'playas' that have received Black Flags for not meeting the right health, cleanliness and environmental standards.


Spain has around 7,500 kilometres of coastline and more than 3,000 beaches. Many of them are not only beautiful, but very well taken care of.

Spain currently has a total of 627 Blue Flag beaches in 2023, which were awarded the accolade for their hygiene, safety and accessibility standards, their provision of lifeguards and other positive features.

Spain in fact has the most Blue Flag beaches out of any other country. 

READ ALSO: Where are Spain’s Blue Flag beaches?


Unfortunately, not all beaches in Spain are quite so well preserved.

Spanish environmental group Ecologists in Action 'awards' these beaches 'Black Flags', with the aim of drawing attention to stretches of the coastline that don't make the grade.

Big no-nos include poor waste management, pollution, overcrowding from tourism, nearby building projects, port expansions, the accumulation of rubbish, coastal erosion, and their detrimental effects on biodiversity.

This means that all the beaches listed below are not necessarily polluted but may suffer from overcrowding or the authorities are not using environmentally friendly ways of keeping them clean.

After having analysed 8,000 kilometres of coastline around Spain, Ecologists in Action have denounced 48 coastal stretches in 2023, giving them Black Flag status.

Besides beaches, Black Flags are also awarded to port areas and river estuaries. 

17 are due to the urbanisation of the coast, sometimes invading the maritime-terrestrial public domain; 12 due to spills, deficiencies in sanitation systems and serious purification problems; 6 due to chemical, light and/or acoustic pollution; 6 due to effects on biodiversity; 3 due to accumulation of marine litter; 2 due to dredging and port extensions without justification; among others.

Here are all the Black Flag beaches across the country that you should be aware of this summer. Ports, rivers and estuaries given the Black Flag status have also been listed for each province. 


  • Playa de La Antilla, Huelva for waste poor management
  • Ría de Huelva for contamination
  • Tarifa, Cádiz for poor waste management
  • Vejer, Cádiz for the illegal extraction of water
  • The coast of Málaga for poor waste management
  • Playa de la Herradura, Granada for poor waste management.
  • Playa de La Rábita, Granada for contamination.
  • Playa Algarrobico, Almería for poor waste management
  • Beaches for Roquetas de Mar, Almería for contamination


  • Regasificadora de del Musel for poor waste management
  • Playa de Bañugues for contamination

Basque Country

  • The River Nervión around the Guggenheim, Bilbao for poor waste management
  • The River Barbadun for contamination
  • Bahia de la Concha, San Sebastián for poor waste management
  • Playa de Mutriku for contamination

Balearic Islands

  • Colonia de Sant Jordi for nighttime boat parties 
  • General poor management of motorboats

Canary Islands

  • Franja Marina Fuentecaliente, Santa Cruz de Tenerife for poor waste management
  • Playa El Médano, Tenerife for contamination
  • Playa La Francesca, Las Palmas for poor waste management 
  • Puerta del Corralejo, Las Palmas for expansion and works 



  • Playas de Liencres for poor waste management
  • Bajo Asón for contamination


  • Delta del Ebro, Tarragona for poor waste management
  • La Savinosa,Tarragona for contamination.
  • Playa de Vallcarca, Barcelona for poor waste management
  • Playas de Badalona, Barcelona for contamination
  • Playas de Begur, Girona for poor waste management
  • Golfo de Roses, Girona for contamination


  • Concello de Vigo for making a dog beach at A Calzoa 
  • Minas de San Finx, A Coruña for poor waste management 
  • Mina de Touro, A Coruña for contamination 
  • Playa de Areoura, Lugo for poor waste management


  • Mar Menor for poor waste management 
  • Portman y Sierra Minera for contamination


  • Cala Mosca, Orihuela for poor waste management
  • Arenal de Xàbia, Alicante for contamination
  • La Platja de l'Arbre del Gos, Valencia for poor waste mangement
  • Playas de Valencia for contamination
  • Playa del Fortí, Castellón for poor waste management
  • Playa del Surrach, Castellón for contamination 



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