The Eastern Cape and Garden Route boast some of the prettiest and most extensive beaches in South Africa, with warm waters from the Indian Ocean making them excellent choices for water sports. In recognition of their beauty, excellent swimming conditions and commitment to the preservation of the local fauna and flora, 20 Eastern Cape beaches were given Blue Flag status in 2014…
Blue Flag is an esteemed international award that is only given to beaches that meet a strict set of about 30 criteria. These include hygiene, water quality, sand quality, management and environmental education initiatives. Boasting this status assures visitors of an awesome beach experience, coupled with a certain degree of ecological responsibility.
Almost half of the beaches in the country are in the Eastern Cape and Garden Route, testifying to this area’s natural wealth and its potential in terms of tourism. It also makes an important statement about the level of conservation and care being invested into South African beaches, making them prime spots for rest, relaxation and tourism.
The Blue Flag season is launched on 1 November of each year. In 2014, 45 beaches across the country achieved this status.
Just some of the beaches that were awarded Blue Flag status his year include Humewood and Kings beaches in Port Elizabeth, Kenton-on-Sea, Hartenbos in Mossel Bay, Buffalo Bay and Brenton-on-Sea in Knysna, and Nature’s Valley Beach. Another five beaches were awarded pilot status, putting them in line to earn their full Blue Flag status. Some of these are Hobie Beach (Port Elizabeth) and Swartvlei (Knysna). They will be given a year to comply with the accreditation criteria.
In addition, the Eastern Cape and Garden Route region was awarded accreditation for two marinas (specialised harbours for small boats and pleasure yachts) and two whale watching and leisure boats.
However, these accomplishments are about more than beautiful beaches and perfect summer holidays. They boost the local economy and create jobs for locals too, which add to the value of South Africa as a home and as an internationally respected destination.