Blue Flag Beaches in Donegal 2023

By Elena T.


What does "Blue flag beach" mean, and why is it a good choice for a day out?

Maybe you often see the label "Blue Flag" when it is about a beach and instinctively know this is something good. But what precisely does the Blue flag mean, and why is it worth visiting them?

Blue Flag is an international award given to beaches for the bathing season, which runs in Ireland from June 9th to September 15th. The award is for one season only, and to be awarded, the beach has to cover strict criteria:

  1. Environmental Information and Education
  2. Water quality
  3. Safety and Services
  4. Environmental Management
a collage of different views of a river

Ireland is fortunate to have 84 blue flags beaches and ten marinas this year, 2023, 12 beaches and two marinas in Donegal. Here is the complete list of the Blue Flag beaches in Donegal:

Culdaff beach

Bundoran beach

Carrickfinn beach

Downings beach

Fintra bay

Killahoey beach

Marble Hill beach

Murvagh beach

Naran, Portnoo

Portsalon, Ballymastocker Bay

Rossnowlagh beach

Stroove, the Big White Bay

Rathmullan Marina

Greencastle Marina

Along with being Green Coast Awarded, Blue Flag Beaches beaches are recognised worldwide eco-labels that raise environmental awareness and promote sound environmental management of beaches, marinas, and eco-tourism boats worldwide.

a collage of a river

Criteria under which Blue Flag beaches are assessed (33 criteria):

Environmental Education and Information

  1. Information about the Blue Flag must be displayed.
  2. Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users.
  3. Information about bathing water quality must be displayed.
  4. Information relating to local ecosystems and environmental phenomena must be displayed.
  5. A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed.
  6. A code of conduct that reflects appropriate laws governing the use of the beach and surrounding areas must be displayed.

Water Quality

  1. The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements.
  2. The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water quality analysis.
  3. No industrial, waste-water, or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area.
  4. The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the microbiological parameter Escherichia coli (faecal coli bacteria) and intestinal enterococci (streptococci)
  5. The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for physical and chemical parameters.
a beach with a body of water

Environmental Management

  1. The local authority/beach operator should establish a beach management committee.
  2. The local authority/beach operator must comply with all regulations affecting the location and operation of the beach.
  3. The beach must be clean.
  4. Algae vegetation or natural debris should be left on the beach.
  5. Waste disposal bins/containers must be available at the beach in adequate numbers and they must be regularly maintained.
  6. Facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials should be available at the beach.
  7. An adequate number of toilet or restroom facilities must be provided.
  8. The toilet or restroom facilities must be kept clean.
  9. The toilet or restroom facilities must have controlled sewage disposal.
  10. There should be no unauthorised camping, driving, or dumping of waste on the beach.
  11. Access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled.
  12. All buildings and beach equipment must be properly maintained.
  13. Coral reefs in the vicinity of the beach must be monitored.
  14. A sustainable means of transportation should be promoted in the beach area.

Safety and Services

  1. An adequate number of lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be available at the beach.
  2. First aid equipment must be available on the beach.
  3. Emergency plans to cope with pollution risks must be in place.
  4. There must be management of beach users and events to prevent conflicts and accidents.
  5. There must be safety measures in place to protect beach users.
  6. A supply of drinking water should be available at the beach.
  7. At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have wheelchair and accessibility features.
  8. Wheelchair access and accessibility features must be in place for at least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality.

Find out more about Donegal's beautiful Blue Flag beaches: