As 2018 draws to a close – can you believe there’s only two months left in the year?! – we’re already beginning to think about our next year’s travels. And when we think travel, we think of dream destinations. And when we think of dream destinations, we think beaches. Beaches, glorious beaches. Soft sands and swaying palms. Warm waters and lazy afternoons. Swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, and strolling. Ocean perfection!
Ok, back to reality. Because, when it comes to beaches, there are no better in Costa Rica than Blue Flag beaches.
You’ve probably heard the term before – “Blue Flag” Beaches – and maybe you’ve even seen the flag, but do you know what the flag represents? In a nutshell, a Blue Flag designation means sustainability. It represents eco-friendly policies. It stands for safety. And it demands a healthy beach and even healthier community. And it’s very, very hard to achieve.
And for all these definitions – for all these reasons – we are so proud to share with you that Tamarindo recently earned its very own Blue Flag. Congratulations to us!
Tamarindo Earns its Ecological Blue Flag
It was years in the making, but on June 21, 2018 the community of Tamarindo was award the prestigious and hard-earned Ecological Blue Flag.
For us, a Blue Flag is official recognition of all our hard work. Of our belief in our own community. Of our love for our town and beach. Of our passion for the environment and protection of our guests.
Jordi Rivera, of the Tamarindo Blue Flag Committee, explained, “It has been really hard to get the Blue Flag… First, we needed a team of people committed to work hard, and that has been possible thanks to CCTT [the Tamarindo Chamber of Commerce and Tourism]. Then, we needed to put together all the efforts of all the organizations and businesses who are working for a better community, and I want to thank all of them.”
And we couldn’t be prouder of our little beach town. Costa Rica’s Ecological Blue Flag Program is highly esteemed – and very difficult to achieve, especially for entire communities. Because the devil’s in the details:
What is the Costa Rica Blue Flag Program?
The Blue Flag program is a joint program between several Costa Rican organizations, among them the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), CANATUR (National Tourism Chamber), MINAE (Ministry of Environment), the Ministry of Public Health, and the National Water Service – in other words, entities dedicated to travel, health, and related topics.
The resulting Blue Flag Commission oversees applicants – beaches, communities, protected natural spaces, sustainable homes, and other categories – in a wide range of categories, including recycling, environmental education, drinkable water, protected green areas, street cleaning, water springs protection, public health, security, and liquid and solid waste, as well as tourism-focused practices, such as signage regarding riptides, sufficient emergency/safety personnel (weekends and high season), availability of public restrooms, and more.
According to Mauricio Ventura, former Minister of Tourism, “Beyond protecting natural resources, such as beaches, [the Blue Flag Program] seeks the promotion of sustainability in three areas: social, environmental and economic.” In other words, a Blue Flag is not merely a clean beach: it is a healthy social environment, eco-friendly practices and policies, and a sustainable economy.
And herein lies the reason why Tamarindo chose to apply as a community, and not just a beach: Our town has banded together through community meetings, time and financial investments, to work toward a better, cleaner Tamarindo.
So, what does it all mean? Rivera explained, “The Blue Ecological Flag is a sustainability certification, and having it is important for two reasons… We need to take care of our planet, and the Blue Flag shows that we are a community who takes care of it. Second, we are a touristic destination, and everyone who lives in Tamarindo works for tourism directly or indirectly. Today, market trends and consumer behaviors show that sustainability issues are very important when deciding a product or service, and that’s another reason why we must focus on improving the sustainability of our business and community. The Blue Flag shows that we are going in this direction, and we care about this tendency. It can be applied by all the businesses of the community, and this is the only way to continue being an international tourism destination.”
In other words, Tamarindo’s Blue Flag represents our community spirit: a town dedicated to sustainability, tourism, health and cleanliness. Every year, we will work together to keep our Blue Flag certification up-to-date, so our travelers and fellow residents can enjoy a sparkling clean, healthy community.
Rivera also commented that, when a few sponsors climb on board, Tamarindo will again work toward achieving the Blue Flag for our town’s beach.
Blue Flag Beaches around Tamarindo
While 2018 Blue Flags are still in process, the 2017 Blue Flags are proudly flying throughout Costa Rica.
Here on the North Pacific coast, 26 beaches display a Blue Flag to certify that they have met the minimum requirements of the program. The beaches are each rated on a scale of one to five stars, calculated based on points obtained from three separate elevations throughout the year. To achieve just one star, a beach requires a minimum compliance of 90% on each and every evaluation.
Stars are so hard to achieve that in 2017, only four beaches achieved five stars – and two of them are in our very own North Pacific! We are so proud that our neighbors, Playa Matapalo and Punta del Madero, have both achieved a near-impossible five stars.
Additionally, the nearby beaches of Playa Pan de Azucar, Playa Potrero, Playa Blanca, Playa Conchal, Playa Ventanas, Playa Grande (of Las Baulas National Park fame), Playa Bonita, Playa Junquillal, and Hacienda Pinilla’s Playa Langosta, Playa Avellanas, and Playa Mansita have all earned Blue Flags, as well.
Blue Flag Spotlight: Playa Grande
Located across the estuary, just north of downtown Tamarindo, Playa Grande is a cinnamon-sand stretch of one of the world’s most ecologically significant beaches: Every year, Las Baulas National Park and Playa Grande – one of the top spots for Costa Rica turtle nesting– welcome thousands of hulking leatherback turtles that make their way ashore to lay eggs; weeks later, their tiny babies hatch and make their way to sea. It’s an incredible sight to see.And the beach isn’t bad, either!
(For more things to see and do around Tamarindo, including scuba diving the Catalina islands, epic Pacific sport fishing, and Tamarindo nightlife, please see our Tamarindo travel guide.)
Blue Flag Spotlight: Playa Conchal
Considered one of the most beautiful, most exotic beaches in Costa Rica, Playa Conchal – the “shell beach” – is drenched in sunshine, bordered by sparkling turquoise waters, and sprinkled with white-pink sands, courtesy of the millions of crushed shells that glimmer on its shores.
In addition to its exceptional beauty, Playa Conchal is a local favorite for snorkeling, jet skiing, sailing, and horseback riding. (Be warned, waves can get big so take care when swimming.) We love Playa Conchal even more for the visiting manta rays that often leap above the water’s surface.
Blue Flag Spotlight: Playa Junquillal
Junquillal’s gray and black sands are famed for its warm sun, shaded coast, gentle waves, and superb clarity. Dive in!
(For more things to see around Playa Junquillal, including scuba diving the Catalina islands, epic Pacific sport fishing, and Tamarindo nightlife, please see our Playa Junquillal travel guide.)
Blue Flag Spotlight: Hacienda Pinilla’s Hat Trick
Our neighbor, Hacienda Pinilla, works extremely hard to keeps its beaches clean – and the Blue Flag Program agrees! The luxury community, which is home to a spectacular beach club and ocean-view golf course, also abuts three of our area’s most beautiful and ecological beaches:
Playa Avellanas: Widely regarded as one of the top-10 beaches in Central America, Playa Avellanas represents a sparkling stretch of sand often referred to as “Little Hawaii,” thanks to its reputation as a surfers’ paradise. That’s right, we’re talking swells that can reach up to 18 feet, in prime conditions! What’s more, Playa Avellanas doesn’t rest on its laurels as a surfing beach: it’s also know for clean and beautiful sands, exotic shells, and seclusion – a trifecta that tempts travels to visit. And return. And then, return again.
Playa Langosta: Native Guanacaste trees hug Playa Langosta, known – and, in many cases, ranked, awarded, and otherwise lauded – worldwide as one of the planet’s most beautiful beaches. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Langosta Beach is also certified for its superior ecological sensitivity, environmental stability, and cleanliness.
Playa Mansita: One of the loveliest strips of sand in Costa Rica, Playa Mansita is a Hacienda Pinilla favorite and a treasure trove of soft sands and rocky outcroppings. This is the perfect spot for catching some sun, strolling during low tide, and simply enjoying the beauty of nature. And hey, Playa Mansita is also home to Costa Rica’s only JW Marriott. Buckle up for luxury.
For more things to see around Hacienda Pinilla, including scuba diving the Catalina islands, turtle-watching at Las Baulas National Marine Park, and Tamarindo nightlife, please see our Tamarindo travel guide.
Plan a Trip to your Favorite Blue Flag Beach
Planning a trip to Tamarindo or one of our neighbor Blue Flag beaches? We’d love to help you make arrangements! Our friendly concierge, Cris, can fill you in on all the details of your favorite beach – places to stay, things to do, attractions to visit – and even book your tours, transportation, and vacation rental – no added charge!
ATVs and ziplines not your jam? Cris has first-hand knowledge of all the best tours, activities and adventures in and around Tamarindo, so she can recommend any flavor for any taste – the best vacation to match your personal adventure style. Or relaxation style. Or outdoor style.
Or any style. Because that’s how we roll. Get in touch today!