Blue Flag Beaches

Blue sand? No! The flags are blue, pay attention!
BY: RYAN SCHAEFER

If you are any sort of beach enthusiast, you may have noticed some clear differences between the touristy beaches in the area (think Chileno Bay and Médano) and the more rustic, local beaches. The tourist beaches like Santa Maria and Palmilla are Blue Flag beaches, which means they've met a set of specific international standards that they maintain in order to keep this status.

The Blue Flag program is an international project directed by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. To be eligible, a beach or marina must first meet the program’s 33 requirements. They first file their application with the National Operator. From there, the national jury evaluates the applicants for compliance with the Blue Flag criteria and gives an approval or rejection at the national level before going to the next level of approvals.

The 33 criteria that each beach must meet before approval cover a diverse range of issues. For example, beaches must promote and make available environmental education activities for the public on a regular basis. They must also comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements. But the criteria also include restricting camping and unauthorized motor vehicles from operating on the beach, providing facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials, and restricting access of pets—all things that residents are less than thrilled about, especially those who have been frequenting the beaches since before this tourist oriented Blue Flag thing became a thing. For a full list of the criteria you may visit the Blue Flag website (http://www.blueflag.global) and click on “Tools and Resources,” then scroll down to criteria.

The Blue Flag program is international, linking a network of beaches and marinas around the world. Each location promotes the Blue Flag platform—mainly, sustainable management of coastal areas.

 At the international level, there are 4,154 Blue Flag beaches and marinas in 49 different countries. The beaches and marinas participating in the program benefit from FEE’s guidance in improving and tightening environmental regulation. These benefits then help local municipalities implement practices that lead to increased recovery and restoration of coastal ecosystems. 

Once a beach or marina has earned the Blue Flag certification, they must renew annually thereafter. To qualify for renewal, Blue Flag beaches must adhere to all 33 criteria and pass various inspections. This process is meant to ensure that these destinations remain committed to sustainability and safely manage not only their ecosystems, but their infrastructure as well. The net gain for the beach-goers in the area is beaches and marinas that are clean, safe, easily accessible, and provide amenities like clean restrooms and showering areas. Added bonuses like signage informing visitors of local flora and fauna and educational activities are designed to connect people to their surroundings, turning a visit to a Blue Flag beach into more than just a nice day at a clean beach.

Note, if you plan a visit to a Blue Flag beach in Los Cabos, be sure to use public access roads. Many of the locations in the area are situated inside of or nearby private housing divisions or hotels, which will not let you use their roads or parking lots to access the beach. I made that mistake a couple of weekends ago and was met with a less than friendly guard who made it his mission to make sure I found my way to the proper entrance and parking area.

Get ready to see a few more Blue Flag Beach logos around Los Cabos. The results of the latest Blue Flag International Jury are in, and 18 new beach destinations in Baja California Sur, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Quintana Roo were certified. This brings the total count in Mexico from 35 to 53, with 19 Blue Flag Beaches in Baja California Sur, plus the marina in La Paz.

Below is a list of current Blue Flag Beaches and Marinas in our state

 

La Paz:

El Coromuel

The Marina

 

Los Cabos:

Acapulquito

El Chileno

El Corsario

Hacienda

Las Viudas

Palmilla

Santa María

La Ribera

Médano Breathless

Médano Casa Dorada

Médano Club Cascadas de Baja

Médano ME Cabo

Médano Pueblo Bonito Cabos

Médano Pueblo Bonito Rose

Médano Riu Palace Los Cabos

Médano Riu Santa Fe

Médano Villa Del Palmar

Médano Villa El Arco

Médano Villa La Estancia