WESSA’s Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards 2023/2024: Recognizing excellence in sustainable coastal management

GEORGE, Western Cape – As warmer weather and swim season approach,  WESSA celebrates South Africa’s pristine coastal destinations with the coveted Blue Flag and Green Coast status awards today (Friday), solidifying its position as a premier coastal destination.

WESSA celebrates George Municipality’s Gwaing coastline after achieving Green Coast status for the first time today

SA’s top 48 beaches, flanked by six picturesque coastal spots, known for their breath-taking natural beauty, are proudly boasting their eco labels, demonstrating continued commitment to sustainable tourism.

Pic credit: Nosidima Vumindaba: Nature’s Valley, situated on the Indian Ocean coastline and flanked by the Groot River mouth, which forms part of the Tsitsikamma National Park, earned it’s Green Coast eco label for the first time today

A further four marinas and six tourism boats have been acknowledged at this season’s event at Salinas in Wilderness, hosted by George Municipality – the perfect backdrop for the distinguished gathering who applauded the outstanding contributions made towards sustainable coastal management. The awards also allows for potential Blue Flag sites to participate in a pilot programme, where 23 pilot sites were recognised this year for their efforts in meeting the minimum requirements for Blue Flag status.

Local shark cage diving operator, of White Shark Diving Company in Van Dyk’s Bay in Western Cape were first time recipients of full status Blue Flag award.

Today’s ceremony showcased exceptional initiatives and projects highlighting innovative approaches to sustainable practices, conservation, education, and community involvement. By shining a spotlight on these achievements, the event inspired and encouraged others to embrace sustainable coastal management principles.

Flying the flag high this season: George Executive Mayor, Leon van Wyk joins WESSA CEO Helena Atkinson, Senior Sustainability Programme Manager, Tevya Lotreit and George Municipal Manager, Dr Michele Gratz in today’s flag hoisting ceremony at Wilderness today

The Blue Flag programme has been locally managed by WESSA since 2001 in partnership with the global Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and participating coastal municipalities.

“We are thrilled to host and support WESSA’s Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards 2023/2024,” said George Municipal Mayor, Leon van Wyk. “This event not only recognises the exceptional efforts of coastal communities, but also serves as a platform to share best practices and foster collaboration in our collective mission to safeguard our precious coastal ecosystems.”

The awards serve as a benchmark for sustainable tourism where qualifying criteria for Blue Flag and Green Coast status involve a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria which must be met and maintained. By meeting these rigorous standards in water quality, environmental management, safety, and education, Blue Flag beaches, green coastlines and marinas inspire visitors to become responsible global citizens.

Local shark cage diving operator, Samantha Hansen, of White Shark Diving Company in Van Dyk’s Bay in Gansbaai was ecstatic after being awarded Blue Flag status for the first time.

“This has been an overwhelmingly emotional moment for us, and I can’t help but express how overjoyed I felt. The recognition of our efforts with such a prestigious award was beyond our expectations, and it filled me with a deep sense of accomplishment and gratitude,” said Hansen whose company, provides shark cage diving and bespoke eco tours.

“We are truly honoured, excited and committed to continue to maintaining the high standards that the Blue Flag represents.”

WESSA CEO, Helena Atkinson acknowledged and commended the exceptional  efforts made  by local authorities, communities and volunteers in achieving excellent world class standards this season.

“It takes great dedication and effort to manage a beach or marina to meet the rigorous standards set out for this prestigious award, and we extend our warmest congratulations to all the deserving sites that have achieved the eco labels,” she said adding that achieving Blue Flag or Green Coast eco label was not just a status symbol but an indication of collective effort, commitment and compliance.

“By providing ongoing education programmes and training, we are able to provide citizens the key information about beach quality management at Blue Flag or Green Coast sites. It is also a way to recognise the hard work done by municipalities in providing safe natural spaces and  preserving our natural resources for future generations,” she said.

Here’s the list of beaches you can visit in the relevant provinces in SA:

Full status Blue Flag beaches:

Western Cape City of Cape Town Silwerstroomstrand
Western Cape City of Cape Town Clifton 4th
Western Cape City of Cape Town Camps Bay
Western Cape City of Cape Town Llandudno
Western Cape City of Cape Town Muizenberg
Western Cape City of Cape Town Bikini
Western Cape City of Cape Town Melkbosstrand
Western Cape City of Cape Town Fish Hoek
Western Cape Overstrand Kleinmond
Western Cape Overstrand Hawston
Western Cape Overstrand Grotto
Western Cape Overstrand Castle
Western Cape Cape Agulhas Struisbaai
Western Cape Hessequa Witsand
Western Cape Hessequa Preekstoel
Western Cape Hessequa Lappiesbaai
Western Cape Hessequa Jongensfontein
Western Cape Hessequa Gouritzmond
Western Cape Hessequa Stilbaai Wes
Western Cape Mossel Bay De Bakke
Western Cape Mossel Bay Hartenbos
Western Cape Mossel Bay Klein Brak
Western Cape Mossel Bay Santos
Western Cape Mossel Bay Glentana
Western Cape George  Wilderness
Western Cape George  Herold’s Bay
Western Cape George  Victoria Bay (New)
Western Cape Knysna Brenton On Sea
Western Cape  Knysna Buffalo Bay
Western Cape Bitou Robberg 5
Western Cape Bitou The Waves
Western Cape Bitou Nature’s Valley
Western Cape Bitou Lookout
Western Cape Bitou The Dunes
Western Cape Bitou Singing Kettle
Eastern Cape Kouga Dolphin
Eastern Cape Kouga Cape St Francis
Eastern Cape Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Kings
Eastern Cape Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Humewood
Eastern Cape Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Hobie
Eastern Cape Ndlambe Kariega
Eastern Cape Ndlambe Kelly’s
Eastern Cape Ndlambe Middle Kenton On Sea
Kwazulu‐Natal Ray Nkonyeni Marina
Kwazulu‐Natal Ray Nkonyeni Trafalgar
Kwazulu‐Natal Ray Nkonyeni Southport
Kwazulu‐Natal Ray Nkonyeni Umzumbe
Kwazulu‐Natal Ray Nkonyeni Hibberdene

Green coast sites:

Municipality Site Background
City of Cape Town Blaauwberg Nature Reserve First site to be awarded Green Coast status in 2017 and has maintained status in subsequent seasons. 
George Municipality Gwaing  First time awarded 2023
Bitou Municipality  Natures Valley First time awarded 2023
Great Kei Municipality Chintsa Third year as Green Coast site
Great Kei Municipality Morgan Bay Third year as Green Coast site
Great Kei Municipality Kei Mouth Third year as Green Coast site

Blue flag marinas:

Western Cape Thesen Islands Homeowners Thesen Islands
  Thesen Harbour Town Thesen Harbour Town
  V&A Waterfront V&A Waterfront
Eastern Cape Royal Alfred Marina Royal Alfred Marina

Blue Flag tourism boats:

Western Cape Marine Dynamics  Slashfin 
  Dyer Island Cruises Whale Whisperer
  Dyer Island Cruises Dream Catcher
  White Shark Diving Company White Shark (New)
  Offshore Adventures Robberg Express
  Offshore Adventures Oceanic Express

Blue Flag pilot sites:

Western Cape City Of Cape Town Strandfontein
Western Cape City Of Cape Town Mnandi
Western Cape  Overstrand Onrus
Western Cape Mossel Bay Tweekuilen
Western Cape Mossel Bay Suiderkruis
Western Cape George Leentjiesklipwilderness
Eastern Cape Marina Martinique Marina Martinique
Eastern Cape Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Bluewater Bay
Eastern Cape Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Wells Estate
Eastern Cape Ngqushwa Hamburg
Eastern Cape Ngqushwa Birah
Eastern Cape Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (Former Mbizana) Mzamba
Kwazulu‐Natal Umdoni Pennington
Kwazulu‐Natal Umdoni Rocky Bay
Kwazulu‐Natal Umdoni Preston
Kwazulu‐Natal Umdoni Umthwalume
Kwazulu‐Natal Umdoni Scottburgh
Kwazulu‐Natal Ray Nkonyeni St Michaels
Kwazulu‐Natal Ray Nkonyeni Ramsgate
Kwazulu‐Natal Kwadukuza


Thompson’s Bay
Kwazulu‐Natal Kwadukuza


Kwazulu‐Natal Kwadukuza


Kwazulu‐Natal Kwadukuza Salt Rock 

About WESSA:

WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) is a leading non-profit organisation dedicated to advocating for sustainable solutions, conservation, championing policy initiatives and promoting environmental awareness that lead to a healthier planet. WESSA has consistently been at the forefront of the environmental sector, driving positive change and inspiring communities. Through its diverse range of programmes and initiatives, WESSA has been instrumental in fostering a culture of environmental responsibility across South Africa.

WESSA’s Mission: Educate. Advocate. Act.

We educate, advocate and act for environmental and social justice through sustainability education, strategic partnerships, and conservation programmes to drive climate action, protect and restore biodiversity, and reduce pollution.

WESSA’s Vision: To be a trusted and highly effective organisation working for environmental and social justice in support of a healthy and sustainable planet.


The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised voluntary eco-labels awarded to beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators.

 In order to qualify for the Blue Flag, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.

 With over 4500 sites in over 45 countries around the world, Blue Flag is actively contributing to the sustainable development goals. Blue Flag also campaigns against disparity, inequality, unemployment, health threats, depletion of natural resources, environmental threats, pollution and general environmental degradation.

 In South Africa, Blue Flag has been operational since 2001 and has proud municipal, marina and tourism boat partners in 18 coastal municipalities around the country.

 Blue Flag is voluntary, which shows a very strong commitment to environmental sustainability from those municipalities, marina’s and tourism boat operators that are awarded annually. All properties and companies that apply for the Blue Flag award are assessed by a South African National Jury as well as by the Blue Flag International Jury in Europe. 


Based on the success of the Blue Flag eco-label and the recognition that Blue Flag is only applicable to a limited stretch of urban coastline, WESSA developed a second coastal award for implementation along South Africa’s coastline. The Green Coast Award, officially launched in 2017, is an annual award programme that recognises inclusive and sustainable management at less developed coastal sites with high biodiversity value.

Green Coast is a platform for collaboration, innovation, and local public participation in coastal management. Successful coastal sites achieve Green Coast status by meeting a set of criteria that are designed to ensure environmental, developmental and participatory standards are continually maintained and improved. Where possible, Green Coast sites aim to include a resident’s association or public group who can mobilise active citizens to participate in the management of the site. The Green Coast criteria include aspects of basic ecological monitoring, encouraging citizen science initiatives that empower communities for civic action and influence localized decision making. Coastal areas with Green Coast status appeal to a specific sector of the tourism market who are looking for experiences in adventure, outdoor living, and nature tourism along our coastline. The Green Coast award assists these sites by putting them on the tourism map and promoting them all under one national eco-label.

To learn more about our work, click the link below:



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