The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded to select beaches and marinas in countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean.
Owned, operated and monitored by FEE — the Foundation for Environmental Education — the mission of this non-government, non-profit organization is to promote sustainable development through environmental education. The Blue Flag program grew to international distinction in 1987.
A decade ago, on December 1, 2011, environmental history was made in the U.S. Virgin Islands when the first Blue Flag was raised at The Palms at Pelican Cove, St. Croix.
This year, The USVI Hotel & Tourism Association along with the VI Conservation Society announced the prestigious Blue Flag designation was given to Emerald Beach Resort at Lindbergh Bay, The Ritz Carlton Resort beach at Great Bay, and Tamarind Reef Resort at Green Cay Beach on St. Croix.
Flying the Blue Flag signifies the property offers the highest standards regarding water quality, safety, and environmental management — while simultaneously providing relevant educational information by way of displays or other appropriate methods.
Each year, Blue Flag juries assess candidates to ensure they meet all criteria essential for beaches and marinas at the national and international levels. Those that do are then forwarded to an international jury.
Having beaches in the territory become recognized by the Blue Flag program was the vision of St. Thomas resident Valerie Peters who recently was named Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Conservation Society.
Early in her efforts, Valerie commented, “I grew up here in the islands. After attending a conference about our coral reefs … it struck a chord with me. I wanted to become more knowledgeable about our environment.”
Through research, Valerie discovered that designated Blue Flag beaches not only are renowned for cleanliness and safety but also provide invaluable information to residents and visitors regarding environmental issues and sustainability.
For additional information, visit blueflag.global — and remember — all beaches in the Virgin Islands are open to the public.
A BIT ABOUT DRAKE’S SEAT
This celebrated overlook just off Route 40 south of Magens Bay gives a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean meeting the Caribbean Sea. As the story goes, British privateer Sir Francis Drake made regular use of the locale to observe ships — including the Spanish Armada — that sailed through the area known today as Drake’s Passage.