Traveler help

The meaning of flags on the beaches of Spain

When the good weather arrives and we go to the beach we can find some flags. It is important to know the meaning of each of them, as they are indicating the state of the sea and the quality of that area. In this article we talk about each type of flag and what to do if it is hoisted.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.


The Blue Flag with the drawing of some waves is an indication of quality. It consists of an annual award granted by the FEE (European Foundation for Environmental Education) to beaches that meet certain quality requirements.

Every year a prestigious international jury makes the decision to grant or deny this award, which can be found practically all over the world. In Spain, the body responsible for its management is the ADEAC (Association of Environmental and Consumer Education).

The criteria for approval are numerous and are divided into four blocks:

  • Bathing water quality: absence of discharges, adequate treatment of wastewater …
  • Environmental information and education: information on the ecosystem, water quality, usage standards …
  • Environmental management: presence of papers and containers, good maintenance of services …
  • Security, services and facilities: existence of qualified lifeguards, first aid equipment …

Spain is the country in the world that gets more blue flags every year, because around 600 beaches have it, as well as numerous ports. Generally, dogs are not allowed on beaches with this flag.


The green flag indicates that the bathroom is allowed, since it is safe And the beach conditions are good. Therefore, no special precaution should be taken.

Fortunately, it is a flag that usually predominates on the country's beaches, since the climatic conditions in summer are optimal and the sea is usually calm.


The yellow flag indicates that there is some danger: streams, animals, etc. Therefore, it is allowed to bathe but with some limitations: you must always be in an area where the bottom is touched and the head is out of the water.

Also, you must exercise caution and be alert in case the situation worsens and the flag is changed.


The Red prohibits the bath under any condition since, due to the conditions of the sea, it would pose a risk to the life or health of the bathing person. Some causes are the presence of currents, animals, pollution, etc.

If, despite being prohibited, you decide to bathe, you should know that it is a crime and you can be fined and forced to pay a significant amount of money that can exceed € 1,000.


Although it is not usual, in Spain we can find some beaches where a black flag flutters. This means that that beach is closed to the public since it does not meet the basic conditions so that it is suitable for bathing, either because of the quality of the sand or water.


You won't see any orange flag on most beaches, but it's important to know its meaning in some specific areas of the country.

In the Balearic Islands, if you see this flag waving, it means that the lifeguard is absent, so you should take a bath with responsibility and avoid living any risky situation.


This indication is always accompanied by a yellow flag. He wants to communicate that at that time there is a prominent presence of jellyfish in the sea, so you have to bathe with caution and under the risk of bite As we can see in the image, it is a white flag with the drawing of two jellyfish:

«Q» of Tourism Quality

In Spain we find the Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality (ICTE), which grants its own distinction to tourist establishments and beaches that are of high quality.

The factors that are taken into account to grant this award are the cleanliness of the beach, security, existing equipment and available information, among others.

The beaches with this award have a white flag in which a ‘Q’ appears and the message Tourist Quality. In this way, if we see it, we will know that it is an area with a high quality standard.

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Finally, we have selected the previous and next article of the block "Prepare the trip"so you can continue reading:

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