Beach of Spain ... Paradise!

Meandering along your favorite beach of Spain ... in the peace and quiet of early morning ... the white frill of the waves breaking over your bare feet. Mmmm ... no wonder the Spanish are such a happy race!

Spain offers the visitor over 4,000 kms of coastline where she/he can enjoy shining sun and sapphire seas in wonderful settings.

And what a choice of sands! Golden sands, white sands, grainy sands, powdery sands, smooth sands ... even the black sands of the Canary Islands!

Allergic to sand?! No problem! Just plump for a resort with smooth, white pebbles - you ll find a good selection!

You ve holidayed in the Mediterranean several times already? How about a beach of Spain overlooking the Atlantic Ocean?

Or, why not try the fairy-tale fishing villages, hidden coves and green pastures facing the Cantabrian Sea?

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"Spanish beaches are the most environmentally healthy in Europe," says the Foundation for Environmental Education which has awarded the much-coveted Blue Flag to 450 of the country s beaches - more than any other participating country.

Leading the way within Spain itself is the Costa Blanca, which received 48 Blue Flag awards. Then came the Costa Dorada (37) and Mallorca (33).

Only 30 of Spain s 1,779 coastal bathing areas are considered unfit for bathers by the FEE.

The Blue Flag Campaign, which started in 1987, is owned and run by an independent, non-profit-making organization called the Foundation For Environmental Education - or FEE for short.

It is operated in 24 countries across Europe and South Africa by the national FEE-member organization.

The Campaign gives an exclusive, eco-label award - ie the Blue Flag - based on compliance with 27 criteria spread over four categories: water quality; environmental education and information; environmental management; and safety services.

The awards are made for one season only and if any of the categories are not fulfilled during the bathing season, or if conditions change over the season, the FEE withdraws the awards.

I won t list every beach of Spain with Blue Flag status (there are too many!), but you can easily check them out at the Blue Flag Campaign s official website, here. You will also be able to see if there are facilities for the handicapped at the particular beach of Spain that interests you.

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As can be seen from the above, the large majority of the coastal areas of Spain and their bathing waters are very safe and, in the busy summer months, you will normally find trained life guards.

Also, the International Sea Safety Condition Flag warning system is in force throughout each beach of Spain.

If you see a green flag flying, this shows that the sea is perfectly safe for entering. A yellow flag advises caution. The red flag, which doesn t appear very often on a beach of Spain, means that swimming in the sea is considered risky.

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So, where are all these 1,779 coastal bathing areas to be found?

On Spain s mainland, there are 16 different "costas", and then you also have the beaches of the Balearic and Canary Islands.

Starting down south and moving in an anti-clockwise direction, the first beach of Spain you come across on the south-west of the Peninsula, is the Costa de la Luz. This leads on to the famous Costa del Sol, then to the Costa Tropical and the Costa de Almer a.

Heading round to the east of Spain, from south to north - as far as the French border - the beach of Spain are: Costa C lida, Costa Blanca, Costa de Valencia, Costa del Azahar, Costa Dorada, Costa de Garraf, Costa de Maresme and finally, the Costa Brava.

To the other (west) side of France, on Spain s northern coast, you will find the Costa Vasca and the Costa Verde.

Finally, moving on to the north-west tip of Spain and round its corner on the west side, you come across the coastlines known as R as Altas and R as Bajas.

And, of course, Spain s islands - the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands - also offer a fine variety of beaches.

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If you would like more detailed information on each individual "costa" or beach of Spain, just click on the appropriate heading below:

Southern Spain: Costas de la Luz, del Sol, Tropical and de Almer a.

Eastern Spain: Costas C lida, Blanca, de Valencia, del Azahar, Dorada, de Maresme and Brava.

Northern Spain: Costas Vasca and Verde, and R as Altas and Bajas.

The Islands: Balearic Islands and Canary Islands.

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