Proudly flying the Blue Flag on SA beaches

South Africa’s coastline sparkles! No less than 41 South African beaches and five marinas have been awarded international Blue Flag status for the 2013/14 season for excelling in safety, cleanliness, provision of amenities and environmental information and management.

The programme also provides environmental accreditation to whale-watching boats, as well as commercial and private boats. In 2013, for the first time, marine protected areas (MPAs) were included in the International Blue Flag Criteria.

Blue Flag is the prestigious, voluntary eco-label for beaches, marinas and boats that is recognised as a trusted symbol of quality. It is regarded by the World Tourism Organisation as the most well-known international eco-label and gives local and foreign visitors the knowledge that their beaches are clean, environmentally sound and adhere to international safety and other tourist standards.

The Blue Flag website offers information on each beach’s location, number of lifeguards, parking, average water temperature, special birds or animals that can be seen, as well as available facilities.

South Africa joined the campaign in 2001 as the first country outside Europe to participate. Four beaches were awarded Blue Flags that year.

Now 41 beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status. And five South African marinas have also been awarded full certification: Thesen Island in Knysna; the Yachtport in Saldanha; Granger Bay Water Club and False Bay Yacht Club in Cape Town; and the Royal Alfred Marina in the Ndlambe Municipality in the Eastern Cape.

The voluntary eco-label is given to beaches that meet 33 main criteria spanning four aspects of coastal management: water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and services, which include excellent life-saving standards, top-rate parking and sparkling ablution facilities.

Local authorities report a number of spin-offs from being awarded Blue Flag status, including an increase in visitors, improved behaviour on the part of beach-goers, property prices rising for homes near Blue Flag beaches – and visitors enjoying a well cared-for and managed beach.

South Africa’s Blue Flag beaches 2013/14

Eastern Cape

  • Boknes Beach, near Port Alfred
  • Dolphin Beach, Jeffrey’s Bay
  • Humewood Beach, Port Elizabeth
  • Kariega Beach, Kenton-on-Sea
  • Kelly’s Beach, Port Alfred
  • Kings Beach, Port Elizabeth
  • Middle Beach, Kenton-on-Sea
  • Kleinemonde Beach

KwaZulu-Natal

  • Alkantstrand, Richards Bay
  • Lucien Beach, South Coast
  • Marina/San Lameer Beach, South Coast
  • Southport, South Coast
  • Trafalgar Beach, South Coast
  • Umzumbe (Pumula) Beach, South Coast

Northern Cape

  • McDougalls Bay Beach, Port Nolloth (Richtersveld)

Western Cape

  • Bikini Beach, Gordon’s Bay
  • Brenton-on-Sea, near Knysna
  • Buffalo Bay beach, near Knysna
  • Camps Bay Beach, Cape Town
  • Clifton 4th Beach, Cape Town
  • De Bakke, Mossel Bay
  • Gouritsmond, near Mossel Bay
  • Grotto Beach, Hermanus
  • Hartenbos Beach, Mossel Bay
  • Hawston Beach, near Hermanus
  • Keurboomstrand, near Plettenberg Bay
  • Kleinbrak Beach, near George
  • Kleinmond Beach, near Hermanus
  • Lappiesbaai Beach, Stilbaai
  • Llandudno, Cape Town
  • Mnandi Beach, Cape Town
  • Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town
  • Natures’ Valley, near Plettenberg Bay
  • Preekstoel, near Still Bay
  • Robberg 5th, Plettenberg Bay
  • Santos Beach, Mossel Bay
  • Silwerstroom, Cape Town
  • Strandfontein Beach, near Cape Town
  • Strandfontein Beach, Vredendal, West Coast
  • Wilderness Beach, near George
  • Witsand Beach, mouth of the Breede River

Blue Flag whale-watching boats: Whale Whisperer (Gansbaai) and Damara, Gaia (Plettenberg Bay).

Blue Flag commercial boats: Robberg Express (Plettenberg Bay)

Blue Flag private boats: Yacht Fling (Port Elizabeth)

Visit the Blue Flag website for more information on the awarded beaches:

History of the Blue Flag in SA

The Blue Flag initiative was born in France in 1985, with the first coastal municipalities awarded the Blue Flag on the basis of sewage treatment and bathing water quality.

The concept has since grown to include other criteria, and there are now almost 4 000 Blue Flag beaches and marinas in 41 countries around the world.

Blue Flag is managed in South Africa by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and participating coastal authorities under the department’s Coast Care programme.

Coast Care gives financial and technical help for coastal development projects aimed mostly at poor communities, as well as offering education, training and research services.

SAinfo reporter

Reviewed: December 2013

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