Canaries beaches among those named as Spain’s worst ‘black flag’ spots – see the rest of the list

Beaches in Santa Cruz de Tenerife were given a ‘black flag’ status for pollution  (Ecologists in Action)
Beaches in Santa Cruz de Tenerife were given a ‘black flag’ status for pollution (Ecologists in Action)

Holidaymakers heading for the Canary Islands have been warned to expect sewage spills, marine litter and intrusive urban developments in ‘black flag’ areas by a Spanish environmental group.

Ecologistas en Acción (Ecologists in Action) released their annual rankings of beaches in the most serious environmental conditions on Wednesday (12 June).

After the inspection of 8,000km (4,970 miles) of the Spanish coastline, 48 black flag status beaches – two flags per province or city – were listed in the Banderas Negras (Black Flags) 2024 report.

This year, more than 15 black flags were handed out due to chemical spills, 15 for coastal development and six due to chemical, light and noise pollution.

Purification problems, the accumulation of marine litter, port urbanisation and the dumping of plastic pellets were among the other environmental issues.

The group blasted the Canary Island authorities for allowing the islands to accumulate an ecological footprint equivalent to a territory 27 times its size in the 167-page report.

Ecologists in Action said: “Without a doubt, one of the biggest problems we face is the touristification and urbanization of our coastline.

“A problem that especially affects the Canary Islands, whose population is organizing, under the cry of “The Canary Islands have a limit”, to reject the numerous attacks and threats that endanger the conservation of these islands and the future of future generations.”

Beachfront hotels in Fuerteventura, Tenerife, El Hierro and La Palma were singled out in the report for failing to “comply with environmental laws” and “ensure the restoration of the ecosystem”.

The popular white sands of Playa Blanca beach in Lanzarote also received black flag status for a sewage spill which led to the beach’s temporary closure in May.

Holiday hotspots including sandy stretches in Malaga, Barcelona, Alicante and the Balearics were found to have some of the worst beaches in Spain for substandard sustainability efforts.

The environmental group said private boats anchoring illegally at Talamanca Beach in Ibiza were proving catastrophic to marine life. It also noted that El Amerador Beach, north of Alicante, had seen two recent incidents of fecal pollution entering the sea, and the San Juan festival was named and shamed for littering the Malaga coastline with plastic containers each year.

The 48 ‘black flag’ listed beaches:

  1. La Farella, Girona, Catalonia

  2. Various beaches on the Costa Brava, Girona, Catalonia

  3. Comarca del Maresme, Barcelona, Catalonia

  4. Sant Adrià del Besò, Barcelona, Catalonia

  5. Camino de Ronda, Tarragona, Catalonia

  6. Playa de la Pineda, Costa Dorada, Tarragona, Catalonia

  7. Playa de L’Estany-Capicorb, Castellon, Valencia region

  8. Playa de Burriana, Castellon, Valencia region

  9. Beaches at the Parque Natural de l’Albufera, Valencia, Valencia region

  10. Puerto de Valencia, Valencia, Valencia region

  11. Barranco y playa del Amerador, Alacant, Valencia region

  12. Playas de Cap l’horta, Albufera, Postiguet and San Gabriel, Alacant, Valencia region

  13. Mar Menor, Murcia region

  14. Portman Bay and Sierra Minera, Murcia region

  15. Playa Quitapellejos-Palomares, Almeria, Andalucia

  16. Playa de ‘El Lancón’ en Carboneras, Almeria, Andalucia

  17. Playa de Castell de Ferro, Granada, Andalucia

  18. Playa Granada y Poniente, Granada, Andalucia

  19. Playas de Malaga, Malaga, Andalucia

  20. Coast of Malaga, Malaga, Andalucia

  21. Tarifa, Cadiz, Andalucia

  22. Costa de Trafalgar, Cadiz, Andalucia

  23. Huelva river, Huelva, Andalucia

  24. El Portil, Huelva, Andalucia

  25. Aldán river, Concello de Cangas, Pontevedra, Galicia

  26. Arousa river and Pontevedra river, Pontevedra, Galicia

  27. Minera de Galicia, A Coruna, Galicia

  28. Pereiro river and Ramisqueira river, A Coruna, Galicia

  29. Alcoa pond, Lugo, Galicia

  30. Galician coast, Lugo, Galicia

  31. Port of Figueres, Asturies

  32. Villaviciosa, Asturies

  33. Playa de Usgo, Cantabria

  34. San Román de la Llanilla, Cantabria

  35. Lamiako marsh area, Bizkaia, Basque Country

  36. Gernika and Murueta, Bizkaia, Basque Country

  37. Santa Clara Island, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country

  38. La Concha Island, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country

  39. Cala Xarraca, Ibiza, Balearic Islands

  40. Playa de Talamanca, Ibiza, Balearic Islands

  41. Port of Melilla, Melilla

  42. Melilla Bay, Melilla

  43. Monte Hacho, Ceuta

  44. Playa de Desnarigado, Ceuta

  45. Playa Blanca, Las Palmas, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

  46. Corralejo Dunes, Las Palmas, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

  47. La Tejita Beach (Granadilla), Puertito de Armeñime (Adeje), Tenerife, Canary Islands

  48. Northwest coastline of Tenerife, Canary Islands