Spanish Beaches: The Best And The Worst

Spain: Beaches to visit and avoid

The best? Credit: lunamarina/

Spain is known for its beautiful coastline and consequently attracts millions of tourists every year, drawn to its well-kept beaches and facilities.

Fact: Spain has the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in the world. However, a report from a Spanish ecological group has labelled a staggering 48 beaches with a black flag warning, indicating that the area is contaminated.

The Coloured Flag System

The coloured flag system has been in operation since 1987. There are 10 different flags in total, each meant to convey specific information.

A Blue Flag is the highest award given which basically means the best quality water, beach and facilities. Other colours and symbols denote everything from a designated surfing area to the presence of jellyfish.

The Worst

However, a Spanish group called Ecologistas en Accion have recently published a report on some of the beaches to avoid. The Black Flag which warns of contamination and a health hazard has been handed to a total of 48 beaches in Spain. Everything from chemical spills to dog faeces are cited as the reasons.

As well as naming the areas to avoid, the group, known in English as Ecologists in Action, have also strongly criticised authorities for not taking care of the environment.

One beach, in particular, has been given the dubious honour of being the ‘worst dog beach in Spain.’ A Calzoa in Vigo, on the northwest coast, has allegedly become a ‘sandbox for dogs,’ thanks to irresponsible pet owners.

Chemical spills, faulty sanitation and purification problems, accounted for 12 of the unwanted Black Flags. While six were down to chemical, light or noise pollution.

Some of the most popular Spanish destinations didn’t escape either, including Malaga, the Canary Islands, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Basque Country. Issues ranged from the over-development of land to poor management.

The Best

Avis recently published a list of the most unspoiled and desirable Blue Flag beaches to go, far away from the madding crowd.

Number one was Os Frades (Beach of the friars) , a small unassuming beach, known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning views. Access to it is via a winding path that by a 12th century castle known as Monterreal Fortress. It has been referred to as a hidden gem on the Galician coast.

According to Avis here are the top ten.

  1. Os Frades Beach
  2. Ezaro Beach
  3. Cala Forn Beach
  4. Ladeira Beach
  5. Areagorda Beach
  6. L’Aigua Blanca Beach
  7. La Casica Verde Beach
  8. Sant Gervasi Beach
  9. Platgetes de Bellver Beach
  10. San Miguel de Cabo de Gata Beach

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.