2019 has seen Northern Ireland beaches take a total of 8 blue flags across the counties Antrim, Down and Londonderry, this is 1 down on last year, as Castlerock has lost the blue flag they regained last year.

A further 11 beaches have also been given the Seaside Award for good water quality, Helen’s Bay the Green Coast award and Portstewart Stand has both Seaside Award and Blue Flag.

Just click on a title to go to our beach information pages.

Northern Ireland Blue Flag Awards

Antrim’s Blue Flags

Derry’s Blue Flags

Down’s Blue Flags

Blue Flag is a mark of a quality beach

The Blue Flag beach award is widely recognised as an indication for a good quality beach and has moved on a lot since it started in France in 1985. Most people think a Blue Flag indicates a clean and safe water but although it does, it actually measures a beach against a lot more criteria:

  • Environmental Education and Information. This includes displaying details on the Blue Flag award along with details on the water quality, a beach map including locations of facilities.
  • Water Quality. This is about the water being safe to swim in and water samples are taken at regular points during the bathing season and the year gets an overall grade. Each of our beach pages gives a summary of the current water quality.
  • Environmental Management. This category is about managing the beach and keeping it clean along with facilities like toilets being available to the public.
  • Safety and Services. This is a big one for families with children as a beach should be patrolled by lifeguards. Other criteria include the availability of drinking water and accessibility features.

Not having a Blue Flag does not mean a beach should be avoided as the tough criteria described above is only really suited to large seaside resorts and smaller villages and remote bays can’t offer the same level of management. This means they just don’t participate in the scheme and local countries have their own awards to recognise some of these other beaches.

The blue flag certification process is carried out every year by local quality organisations and for our beaches in the UK, the annual results are announced at the end of May or beginning of June.

For more information and details of the assessment criteria visit the Blue Flag Award website.

For a full list of blue flag beaches see our list at UK Blue Flag Beaches.

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1 Comment

  1. Alexis Scott 26th June 2019 at 6:11 pm

    Visited Portrush West Bay on Saturday 22nd June. Appalled to see many people walking their dogs on this designated blue flag beach despite warning signs that no dogs are allowed and a fine of £80 could be imposed. One woman with a dog, when the sign was pointed out to her, said she went there regularly with her dog and carried on down the steps to the beach. If the rules are not enforced the blue flag status should be withdrawn.

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