When the good weather arrives and we go to the beach we can find some flags. It is important to know the meaning of each of them, as they are indicating the state of the sea and the quality of that area. In this article we will talk about each type of flag and what to do if it is raised.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

Article Index

The meaning of the flags on the beaches of Spain


The Blue Flag with the drawing of waves is an indication of quality. It consists of an annual award granted by the FEE (European Foundation for Environmental Education) to beaches that meet certain quality requirements.

Every year a prestigious international jury makes the decision to award or deny this award, which can be found practically all over the world. In Spain, the body responsible for its management is the ADEAC (Association of Environmental and Consumer Education).

The criteria for approval are numerous and are divided into four blocks:

  • Bathing water quality: absence of discharges, adequate treatment of wastewater ...
  • Environmental information and education: information on the ecosystem, water quality, norms of use ...
  • Environmental management: presence of papers and containers, good maintenance of services ...
  • Security, services and facilities: existence of certified lifeguards, first aid equipment ...

Spain is the country in the world that achieves the most blue flags each year, since around 600 beaches have it, in addition to numerous ports. Dogs are generally not allowed on beaches with this flag.


The green flag indicates that bathing is allowed as it is insurance and the beach conditions are good. Therefore, there is no need to take any special precautionary measures.

Fortunately, it is a flag that tends to predominate on the country's beaches, since the weather conditions in summer are optimal and the sea is usually calm.


The yellow flag indicates that there is peligro: streams, animals, etc. Therefore, bathing is allowed but with some limitations: you must always be in an area where the bottom is touched and the head is above the water.

Likewise, extreme caution must be exercised and vigilant in case the situation worsens and the flag is changed.


The Red forbids bathing under any conditions since, due to sea conditions, it would pose a risk to the life or health of the person who bathes. Some causes are the presence of currents, animals, pollution, etc.

If, despite being prohibited, you decide to bathe, you should know that it is a crime and you can be fined and forced to pay a significant amount of money that can exceed € 1.000.


Although it is not usual, in Spain we can find some beaches where a black flag flies. This means that this beach is closed to the public as it does not meet the basic conditions to be suitable for swimming, either due to the quality of the sand or the water.


You won't see an orange flag on most beaches either, but it is important to know its meaning in some specific areas of the country.

In the Balearic Islands, if you see this flag waving, it means that the lifeguard is absent, so you should bathe responsibly and avoid experiencing any risky situation.


This indication is always accompanied by a yellow flag. He wants to communicate that at that moment there is a prominent presence of jellyfish in the sea, so you have to bathe with caution and under the risk sting. As we can see in the image, it is a white flag with the drawing of two jellyfish:

«Q» of Tourism Quality

In Spain we find the Institute for Spanish Tourist Quality (ICTE), which grants its own distinction to tourist establishments and beaches that are of high quality.

The factors that are taken into account to grant this award are the cleanliness of the beach, security, existing equipment and available information, among others.

The beaches with this award have a white flag on which appears a 'Q' and the message Tourist Quality. In this way, if we see it, we will know that it is an area with a high quality standard.

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