Blue Flag Costa Rica Beaches


Costa Rica beaches are world-famous for their beauty and the diversity of experience they offer.

And the best of them bear Blue Flag certification.

They form the life-blood of the Costa Rica vacation industry and lead to the creation of thousands of jobs.

After all, most honeymoons in Costa Rica begin on the beach. If you’re into animals, places like Tortuguero offer Costa Rica ecology tours. And, face it—you’re simply a beach lover.

But, I bet you don’t know that beach vacations to Costa Rica, like to Playa Conchal Costa Rica or Tamarindo Costa Rica beach, are part of Costa Rica’s plan of sustainable development.

You see, as recently as 2008, the President of Costa Rica (then Oscar Arias) declared that economics are subordinate to the goals of preserving and enhancing Costa Rica’s resources, enhancing bio-diversity and environmental balance, and moving towards a nation of carbon-neutral status.

In fact, Costa Rica is the first country in the world to pledge to become carbon neutral within a few years.

Learn more from National Geographic about Costa Rica’s pledge to become the world’s first carbon-neutral country.

This is not just empty political talk.

There’s been a real commitment to environmental issues in this little country.

Like reducing its carbon footprint.
Costa Rica’s Environmental Performance
Costa Rica says it’s committed to the environment.

Yea, sure. Every country says that.

But in Costa Rica, this isn’t all hype. It’s proven.

In January 2008 a team of Yale and Columbia University researchers released the first comprehensive Environmental Performance Index.

It evaluated and rated the environmental performance of 149 countries using 25 different categories, ranking each country’s performance from 0 (the worst) to 100 (a perfect score).

Only five countries scored 90 or higher.

And only one country in the Western Hemisphere.

Not in the U.S.

Not Canada.

Only in Costa Rica.

America and Canada talk-the-talk but only tiny Costa Rica walks-the-walk.

And, amazingly, Costa Rica made the top 5 even though it’s per capita income is less than one-third of any of the other top 5 countries (Switzerland and three Scandinavian countries).

To be sure, there’s a long way to go and spiraling coastal development presents a real environmental challenge. But, Costa Rica is working to get ahead of the curve and its environmental performance record is the envy of much of the world.

One need only look at its Blue Flag program.
Blue Flag Beaches: Best Quality Costa Rica Beaches

Costa Rica’s Blue Flag program identifies and certifies the best quality beaches. Surely, if you are one of the hundreds of thousands taking Costa Rica vacations this year, you should know where these special, pristine beaches are. What exactly is a Blue Flag Beach?

Modeled after the Blue Flag program developed in Europe to identify the world’s best beaches based upon the ecological quality and visitor conveniences, Costa Rica has created its own Blue Flag program with strict objective rating standards involving water and beach qualities of cleanliness. Only those beaches obtaining a water and beach quality score of 90 or more (out of 100) are certified as Blue Flag.

In 2008, there are 59 certified Blue Flag Costa Rica beaches, eight of them on the Caribbean Coast, 26 on the North Pacific Coast (Guanacaste Province), and 25 on the Central Pacific Coast (Puntarenas Province).

In a country with so many superb beaches, these are the best-of-the-best environmental quality beaches. Check them out before you travel Costa Rica and when you take that long-awaited Costa Rica vacation, plan to visit some of the 59 best blue flag beaches.

Other Costa Rica Beaches

With nearly 800 miles of beaches on two oceans, there are hundreds of Costa Rica beaches. About 85 communities a year apply for Blue Flag beach certification seeking the distinction of being one of the best. It shouldn’t surprise you that many of these communities are major tourist destinations.

The Blue Flag designation is a badge of honor (and, of course, a great marketing tool) and distinction.

The program’s overall goal is environmental excellence, not just getting by. The environmental excellence bar is intentionally set high through the establishment of objective criteria.

And, it works in part because it cleverly requires every community seeking such status to apply anew each year. In other words, it involves the communities, from their businesses to their schools to their local governments. There is an economic incentive to attain Blue Flag status, community pride at stake, and increasing awareness of how sensitive the oceans are.

Alarmingly, more and more Costa Rica beaches are being littered with plastics discarded in the oceans over many years. Some Blue Flag committees are organizing monthly beach cleanups with schools and the schools are using this global problem as an educational tool for students.
Unlike the U.S., where it sometimes feels that important decisions are more a function of effective lobbying than objective evaluation, popularity and local pressure is NOT a criterion for inclusion as a Blue Flag beach.

The standards necessary for Blue Flag inclusion are objective and applied transparently.

Indeed, eight Costa Rica beaches lost their Blue Flag certifications in 2008. Seven, Arenilla, Ocotal, Manzanillo, Agujas, Pelada de Nosara, Dominical, and the enormously popular (and very visited) Tamarindo, are on the Pacific and one, Playa Negra at Puerto Viejo, is on the Caribbean.

The loss of certification shocked, embarrassed, and angered many residents and remedial steps haven’t just been discussed but actually undertaken in affected communities. The beaches above are still great Costa Rica beaches—just not the best of the best.