Why some of Wales's most stunning beaches don't have Blue Flags - and it's not because of sewage

-Credit: (Image: Daily Post Wales)
-Credit: (Image: Daily Post Wales)

The annual Blue Flag awards were announced over the weekend with 24 on the list for Wales. It is a mark of distinction for their exceptional management and pristine water quality.

But there was only one from North Wales - Prestatyn Central - and people may have noticed a large gap on the map of Wales showing the Blue Flag recipients.

This would have come as a surprise to some given the array of stunning beaches on the coastlines of Anglesey, Gwynedd and Conwy. In fact there are more than 30 beaches that are designated 'bathing waters' in those three counties - the first requirement in the process to get a flag(Full list of bathing waters below).

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While there has been lots in the press and on social media about sewage alerts in the past year this is not the reason that North West Wales has no beaches with the flag status in 2024.

The issue actually dates back to 2022. In that year applications went in from the three counties but no flags were awarded by organisers Keep Wales Tidy. At the the time they said the water quality in the area had not changed but that new rules had come in.

Under the new criteria safety risk assessments had to be carried out by a recognised professional independent assessor or by a Full Member organisation of the International Life Saving Federation (ILS). Previously in-house safety assessments had been sufficient.

The following year Anglesey, Gwynedd and Conwy decided not to apply given the extra cost and bureaucracy involved - particularly given the large number of beaches in the counties. They clearly don't feel it is having an impact on visitor choices as this year they've again elected not to enter their beaches.

They have released the following statement: “Our beaches are as clean, safe and popular as they have always been. Water quality is measured regularly, with many beaches achieving the highest standard of ‘excellent’. Blue Flag is just one accreditation scheme which evaluates beaches based on various criteria.

"Some of the requirements are expensive and at odds with established beach management arrangements in North West Wales and we no longer participate in the scheme. Our beaches remain amongst the best in Wales and will continue to attract thousands of visitors again this summer.”

Ratings of Wales's designated bathing sites:


  • Aberdaron

  • Aberdyfi

  • Aberdyfi rural

  • Abereiddy

  • Aberffraw

  • Abermawr

  • Abersoch

  • Aberystwyth south

  • Barafundle

  • Barmouth

  • Benllech

  • Borth

  • Bracelet Bay

  • Broad Haven (central)

  • Broad Haven (south)

  • Caerfai

  • Castle Beach, Tenby

  • Caswell Bay

  • Church Bay

  • Cilborth

  • Cold Knap Barry

  • Col-Huw Beach (Llantwit Major)

  • Colwyn Bay Porth Eirias

  • Coppet Hall

  • Craig Du Beach Central

  • Dale

  • Druidston Haven

  • Dyffryn (Llanendwyn)

  • Fairbourne

  • Freshwater east

  • Freshwater west

  • Glan Don Beach

  • Harlech

  • Langland Bay

  • Little Haven

  • Llandanwg

  • Llanddwyn

  • Llanfairfechan

  • Llangrannog

  • Llanrhystud

  • Llyn Padarn

  • Lydstep

  • Manorbier

  • Marloes Sands

  • Morfa Dinlle

  • Morfa Nefyn

  • Mwnt

  • Newgale

  • Newport North

  • Nolton Haven

  • Oxwich Bay

  • Pembrey

  • Penally

  • Penbryn

  • Pendine

  • Penmaenmawr

  • Poppit West

  • Port Eynon Bay

  • Porth Dafarch

  • Porth Neigwl

  • Prestatyn

  • Pwllheli

  • Rest Bay Porthcawl

  • Rhosneigr

  • Rhossili

  • Sandy Bay Porthcawl

  • Sandy Haven

  • Saundersfoot

  • Silver Bay Rhoscolyn

  • Southerndown

  • St Davids - Benllech

  • Tal-y-Bont

  • Tenby north

  • Tenby south

  • Trearddur Bay

  • Trecco Bay Porthcawl

  • Tresaith

  • Tywyn

  • West Angle

  • Whitesands


  • Aberafan

  • Abergele (Pensarn)

  • Aberporth

  • Aberystwyth North

  • Amroth Central

  • Borth Wen

  • Clarach South

  • Colwyn Bay

  • Kinmel Bay (Sandy Cove)

  • Limeslade Bay

  • Llanddona

  • Llandudno West Shore

  • New Quay Harbour

  • New Quay North

  • Penarth Beach

  • Rhyl East

  • Swansea Bay

  • Traeth Gwyn New Quay

  • Traeth Lligwy

  • Whitmore Bay Barry Island


  • Cemaes

  • Criccieth

  • Jackson's Bay Barry Island

  • Llandudno North Shore

  • Marine Lake, Rhyl

  • Rhyl

  • Wiseman's Bridge


  • Ogmore-By-Sea

  • Watch House Bay