A total of 135 beaches along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts will begin displaying blue flags to let visitors know that they are among the cleanest in the country.
The figure is a record high and represents an increase of 17 beaches over 2018, according to the Costa Rica Tourism Board.
“This reflects a clear, concise and precise will of communities to participate in a program that reinforces … the image of our country as a sustainable destination,” said Gustavo Alvarado, an ICT spokesperson. “It reinforces our positioning at an international level as a country that preserves nature.”
Costa Rica’s Blue Flag Ecological Program awards beaches for trash-free sands, clean ocean and drinking water, and waste disposal programs.
The certification program also takes into account safety aspects such as the existence of appropriate information about strong waves or riptides, and the availability of lifesaving and emergency staff throughout the year.
The program, managed by officials from various public agencies and non-government groups, awards beaches with blue flags displaying one to five stars, depending on the number of points obtained during evaluations.
2019 Blue Flag winners
Five beaches earned five stars on their blue flags:
- Matapalo and Punta de Madero in Guanacaste.
- Playa Blanca (Punta Leona) and Playitas in Puntarenas.
- Playa Blanca (Cahuita National Park) in Limón.
A total of 101 beaches got blue flags with one star, while nine beaches got two stars, 15 got three stars and five got four stars.
The Blue Flag Program started in 1996. Over time, it unified efforts from the Tourism Board, Environment Ministry (ICT), Health Ministry and others.
Besides beaches, it awards flags for environmental awareness to communities, schools, protected natural areas and hydrological watersheds. It also offers awards for climate change mitigation, community health promotion and sustainable homes.
This year, Blue Flag Program committees were asked to help implement new coronavirus-related health protocols.
Beaches have gradually been allowed to reopen in recent weeks as Costa Rica eases some coronavirus restrictions. Most are now open to the public daily until 2:30 p.m.