Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Make a beeline for Blue Flag beaches!
Photographs: Erin Gustafson / Naoise Culhane Photography
Text: Erin Gustafson
Sustainable Blue Flag beaches offer clean water and coastlines with safe access for all.
No matter where you live in Denmark, you are never further than 52 kilometres from the coast. And under Danish law, the entire span of that shore is open to the public. But which beaches are best? That might depend on what you are looking to do on your day out. Knowing that the spot you have picked has first aid facilities, stringent water testing policies, and protections for the local environment is a great place to begin. Look for the iconic blue flag flying to find just that sort of beach.
Blue Flag International, the organization who awards all those flags, is operated under the Foundation for Environmental Education and headquartered in Copenhagen. A big part of what Blue Flag global does in cooperation with the 4,664 awarded facilities in 46 countries worldwide, is focused on environmental education. Every designated site has complied with a demanding series of criteria, including offering educational opportunities for visitors. These might be activities designed for your kids at the beach or information posted about the unique ecologies at each location. Here in Denmark, there are over 200 Blue Flag beaches.
I spoke with Sophie Bachet Granados, the International Director of Blue Flag International about what she sees as the most significant advantage for visitors to a Blue Flag beach?
“The level of excellence, because we work only with operators that are motivated and want to be awarded the Blue Flag. To do so, they first have to apply, and then they receive on-site visits. They are all very proud of their work and put a huge effort into ensuring they comply with all our criteria all during their season. They activate the local communities because Blue Flag is not only for the tourists. If a beach (or a marina, or a tourism boat) has the Blue Flag, you know they will go the extra mile. They are the pioneers of the best practises, the 5-star beaches if you will. It might not look like it when you visit, but there is tremendous work happening behind the scenes so that the experience for the public is smooth.”
Another positive impact from the programme is that at least one Blue Flag facility in every municipality must have adequate accessibility, affording inclusion for all. Whether you have difficulty walking or need access with a wheelchair or even just pushing your pram to the sand, there is a facility for you. Some beautiful and accessible beaches to try in Jutland are Grenaa Beach, Hvide Sand Strand and Sønderstrand near Skagen. On Funen, look to Christiansminde beach near Svendborg. For folks summering in Zealand, Tisvildeleje Strand is seriously stunning and open for all to enjoy.
Blue Flag beaches place a priority on education, whether through information boards, online learning or entertaining and educational activities available on-site.
Or search from a bevvy of accessible beaches right near you on the Blue Flag Global website www.blueflag.global/all-bf-sites Click on the map and add filters to find places where your crew can access the beach and even get into the water here in Denmark. Each blue dot offers beach-specific information about when the season is open, what type of shoreline you’ll find, whether it’s lifeguarded and more. Blue Flag also shares all their data with www.wheelmap.org/ which also offers searchable maps for accessibility points around the world.
Blue Flag beaches place a priority on education, whether through information boards, online learning or entertaining and educational activities available on-site. Plan ahead to seek out some of these activities before heading to the shore. Your little ones might love trying to catch crabs or gently petting a plaice. Older kids and adults might like learning more about local flora and fauna. The Danish Blue Flag website www.friluftsraadet.dk/blaa-flag-strande has a searchable list of Blue Flag events. Checking your local municipality websites and Facebook pages is another great place to find more fun things for your family to do this summer in Denmark.
As an expert on Blue Flag beaches, I wanted to know where Sophie’s favourite blue flag facilities were located around Denmark?
“I have fond memories of Palmestranden, in Frederikshavn municipality, because it was such a surprise for me to see a beach with palm trees in Denmark! It was a beautiful day when I visited it, and I felt like I was almost travelling to the Caribbean. There is also an interesting and pretty beach at Østerstrand (in Fredericia municipality), with excellent facilities and on this beach, you can discover the Havfrueflojten, or “Mermaid Whistles.” Developed specifically for people with poor eyesight so they can navigate into and out of the water, it looks very beautiful. Another gorgeous spot is Hornbæk Strand Vest (in Helsingør municipality). From this long swath of soft sand, you can look over to Sweden, and there is a fun street food market, Det Fedtede Hjørne nearby. Last but not least, Ulvshale Strand (in Vordingborg municipality) is a beach located near nature and protected areas, for those who also like to take a little stroll in nature.”
In post-lockdown Denmark, Blue Flag beaches are taking extra measures to keep people healthy and safe. Municipalities are working closely with the current guidelines set forth by Danish health authorities. Additional signage and information on and near beaches will offer information regarding safe distancing and adding disinfectant in or near facilities. The new guidelines may impact environmental education and activities, so check online first or with staff once on the sand.
According to Sophie, the “link between wellbeing and nature [is] pointed out everywhere, and a beach is one of these places where you can take a break from your daily routines and troubles. We’ve seen it with the confinement that people want to reconnect with nature. It is an intrinsic need that we all have. A beach makes people happy, and we want everyone to be able to access this happiness if they wish to do so.”
So get outside this summer. Enjoy the beautiful Danish coast. And remember when you see the iconic blue flag flying, you’ll find a clean, safe and sustainable spot to spend a day at the beach.