For the widest choice of holiday homes close to a sparkling clean beach, house-hunters should head to Spain, which has more beaches awarded a Blue Flag than any other country.
No less than 586 Spanish beaches make the cut in the 2016 Blue Flag programme, nine more than last year. In fact, one in five Spanish beaches can now fly a Blue Flag, helping to drive demand for beachfront properties along the Costas. Spain also achieved Blue Flag status for 100 marinas.
Looking closer, the Spanish region with the highest number of Blue Flag beaches, namely 125, this year is Valencia, home to the popular Costa Blanca. In the southern Costa Blanca, Los Naufragos in Punta Prima is one example of a Blue Flag beach easily accessible from a range of great value homes. In the northern part, the fashionable resort of Jávea boasts three Blue Flag beaches, namely La Grava, L’Arenal and La Granadella.
Elsewhere, Galicia in the rainy north-west of Spain has the second highest number of Blue Flags (123), followed by Catalonia (98), home to the Costa Brava, then Andalusia, home to the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands (45) and the Canary Islands (45), 15 being in Tenerife.
The highly sought-after Blue Flag accolades are awarded annually by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) across almost 50 countries worldwide. Blue Flag beaches are judged on four different categories: water quality, safety and services, environmental management, and environmental education and information. Attaining Blue Flag status is seen as the gold standard for beaches and is widely recognised as an indication of the high environmental and quality standards of the beaches, marinas and sustainable boating tourism operators. Blue Flags are only awarded to the world's cleanest, most pristine beaches.