There’s no denying that having Blue Flag status is something to be proud of and to shout about if you’re serious about providing the best facilities for the people using your beach.
But in many ways having a system of classifying beaches is a bit like having a star system for hotels – it doesn’t necessarily point the way to the best ones.
The Blue Flag award is an excellent initiative; it lets you know that the water is safe and clean and that you can expect a certain level of maintenance and facilities. Therein lies the problem for those of us who prefer our beaches wild and carefree.
Having to tick off such things as a map of the beach, toilet facilities, lifeguards and access to drinking water means that those wild, remote beaches will never attain Blue Flag status. That’s fair enough but there is no room for rugged, good looks in the Blue Flag criteria which also means that whilst you get the facilities, the beach might not necessarily be the best looker.
It was interesting to see which Tenerife beaches made the Blue Flag grade for 2012 and which of them were mild and mundane and which, if any, were wild and wonderful.
Tenerife’s Blue Flag Beaches 2012
Playa Jardín, Puerto de la Cruz
Nice to see the black sand Playa Jardín regaining its Blue Flag status after losing it in 2011.
Wild or mild? With a Mount Teide backdrop, an area for surfers and no sun-lounger zones, it’s a nice mix.
Playa el Camisón, Playa de las Américas
Being in Las Américas you might expect a seriously manicured tourist beach, but El Camisón is relatively small and exudes some style.
Wild or Mild? Jutting out on a promontory the rest of the southern resorts are hidden from view which makes it feel less resort-y than some neighbouring beaches; mild but not mundane.
Playa del Duque, Costa Adeje
The most chic beach in the south with imported white sand, stylish beach huts and a restaurant on stilts.
Wild or mild? It’s overlooked by luxury hotels. It might be pretty to look at but it’s still mild.
Playa El Médano, Granadilla de Abona
El Médano boasts the best natural beaches in the south – long, windswept and interesting.
Wild or mild? Windsurfers, Kiteboarders and Montaña Roja make it wonderfully wild.
Playa El Socorro, Los Realejos
Hidden beneath the dramatic cliffs on Tenerife’s north west coast, El Socorro has just become the first beach with free wifi in the north of Tenerife.
Wild or mild? Most visitors have never heard of it and have no idea where it is – it’s wild.
Playa Fañabe, Costa Adeje
Links the upmarket part of Costa Adeje with the… err other parts of Costa Adeje. Loads of facilities.
Wild or mild? If you like tourist beaches, you’ll like this one. Yawn – mild.
Playa Arenisco, Punta de Hidalgo
You might struggle to identify the beach as the area is characterised by a rocky coastline; a strange inclusion.
Wild or mild? A rocky coast, Atlantic rollers and the Anaga Mountains make it wild. Punta de Hidalgo negates all of that.
Playa de la Arena, Santiago del Teide
This little black sand beach is probably the best beach in the area.
Wild or mild? Despite boasting a view of La Gomera on the horizon, it’s a resort beach through and through – mild.
Playa de la Tejita, Granadilla de Abona
Possibly the pick of the El Médano playas; wide, sandy and totally natural.
Wild or mild? Strip off and enjoy it, it’s a wild one.
Playa de la Arena, Tacoronte
Another black sand mystery as it’s way off the beaten track and hidden away at the bottom of a winding road.
Wild or mild? You get to it via a tunnel in the cliff. It’s wild, but only because Mesa del Mar is hidden by the cliffs.
Playa la Jaquita, Granadilla de Abona
Another of El Médano’s beaches but probably the ugly sister of the bunch. Handy for the Hotel Arenas del Mar though.
Wild or mild? Should be wild but its suburban surround pushes it into the mild zone.
Playa de las Vistas, Los Cristianos
Immaculate, wide, golden and many people’s favourite Tenerife beach (if they haven’t explored many other Tenerife beaches).
Wild or mild? Sorry Vistas fans, this is about as mild and manicured as it gets.
Playa Los Cristianos, Los Cristianos
A golden sand town beach that has more of a local feel than its bigger neighbour Las Vistas.
Wild or mild? Another one with quite a nice mix. Its position makes it mild but it’s got a bit of soul.
Playa San Juan, Playa San Juan
San Juan isn’t big in tourist terms but it has a decent beach ready for when it is. Sometimes it’s black sand, sometimes it has golden hues. It all depends on whether the tide washes the man-made bits away.
Wild or mild? Sort of falls somewhere in the middle. Both town and beach have a nice vibe.
Playa San Telmo, Puerto de la Cruz
I hardly think of it as a beach. It’s small and rocky and right in the centre of town.
Wild or mild? It’s used almost exclusively by locals which gives it a distinctive and very Canario character; a difficult one to categorize.
Playas Troya I and Troya II, Costa Adeje
Total nonentities of beaches that are lacking in character. Plenty of facilities though.
Wild or mild? Even the local council wanted to change these two – mild.
What about the rest?
In reality, quite a variety of different types of Tenerife beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag for 2012. However, the list lacks some of my favourite beaches on the island.
Playa de las Teresitas is the best looking beach on Tenerife by a mile (others disagree but it’s a matter of personal preference and for me a resort beach backed by hotels just doesn’t cut the mustard as far as scenic beauty is concerned). In the case of Teresitas, it’s a scandal it hasn’t been maintained to Blue Flag standard.
El Puertito, Playa Grande and Abriguitos don’t make it either and all three are more attractive than most on the list.
The strongest argument for me that a Blue Flag isn’t everything is that my favourite beaches on Tenerife would probably have to be spoiled to make the grade. Long may Bollullo, Ancón and Los Patos stay Blue Flag free and remain wild and wonderful.