May 16, 2018 7:00 am
Updated: May 16, 2018 9:56 am

27 Canadian beaches with the cleanest water

The beach at the Outlet River campground in Sandbanks Provincial Park, Ont.

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Canadians who are planning to explore their own country this summer might want to check out some of these beaches, which have an international stamp of approval.

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A list of more than 4,000 beaches and marinas around the world was compiled by the Foundation for Environmental Education. All of these bodies of water have the Blue Flag eco-certification, which means they have high standards for water quality, environmental management, visitor amenities and safety.

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Twenty-seven Canadian beaches and marinas made the list this year. The Canadian list was complied in association with advocacy organization Environmental Defence.

Here’s where you can find them: 

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British Columbia:

  • Gibsons Marina

Manitoba:

  • West Grand Beach at Grand Beach Provincial Park

New Brunswick:

  • Aboiteau Beach, Cap-Pelé

Nova Scotia:

  • Halifax Waterfront

Ontario:

  • Bayfield Main Beach and Bluewater Marina
  • Bell Park Beach and Moonlight Beach in Sudbury
  • Bluffer’s Park Beach, Centre Island Beach, Cherry Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach, Hanlan’s Point Beach, Kew-Balmy Beach, Ward’s Island Beach and Woodbine Beach
  • Canatara Park Beach in Sarnia
  • City of Barrie Marina
  • Colchester Harbour Marina, Town of Essex
  • Grand Bend Beach, Grand Bend Marina and Port Franks Marina at Lambton Shores
  • LaSalle Park Marina in Burlington
  • Outlet Beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park
  • Port Burwell East Beach in Bayham
  • Port Glasgow Beach in West Elgin
  • Port Stanley Main Beach in Central Elgin
  • Trent Port Marina in the City of Quinte West
  • Victoria Beach in Cobourg
  • Wasaga Beach areas 1, 2 and 5 at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park
  • Waubuno Beach in Parry Sound

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Criteria for Blue Flag certifications

Beaches and marinas must abide by several rules to be certified with a blue flag.

Some rules include having proper signage for facilities such as washrooms, lifeguards and first aid equipment. Signs are also suggested to raise awareness about environmental dos and donts, and safety notices for areas that may be dangerous for swimmers.

Visitors at Wasaga Beach in Ontario.

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To ensure water quality, the bodies of water must be tested at several locations and comply with Blue Flag’s bathing water criteria. Samples are regularly taken for possible chemical and microbiological concerns. Industrial wastewater, sewage-related discharges are also red flags.

The testing must also be done by an independent laboratory.

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It’s important to note that beaches that earn the Blue Flag certification may not meet it throughout the year. Some beaches only meet all the criteria for some months, or certain times of day.

There are several other restrictions and regulations Blue Flag beaches must abide by, more detail is provided here.

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Blue Flag beaches around the world

While Canada has more than two dozen certified sites, there are thousands around the world for those who want to jet away this season.

Spain has the most of any country, with a total of 590 beaches on the list.

Beaches that meet the criteria fly blue flags:

A view of the Margate Main Sands Beach in Kent, which is Blue Flag certified.

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The country, according to Lonely Planet, has consistently had the highest number of Blue Flag beaches since the program began in the 1980s.

Greece is in second place, with 519 beaches and 15 marinas that meet the criteria.

Here are all the Blue Flag beaches around the world.

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