UK's best Blue Flag beaches as swimmers avoid sea over sewage fears

Sandbanks in pooleCastle beach TenbyWest strand beach portrush, part of uk best blue flag beaches.
Best UK Blue Flag beaches include Sandbanks in Poole, Castle Beach in Tenby and West Strand Beach in Portrush. (Getty Images)

The UK is home to some incredibly beautiful beaches, but a new poll has revealed that almost a quarter of British swimmers may not swim in the ocean this year due to sewage dumping by water companies.

The poll found that of the 30% of adults who typically swim in the sea each year, 23% would not this year due to sewage concerns.

Read more: Swimmers avoiding the water over fears of raw sewage on UK beaches - The Guardian, 3-min read

More than two in five of the 2,272 adults polled by Savanta for the Liberal Democrats said they were also less likely to visit the British seaside because of it.

It comes after separate analysis found that sewage was dumped at English beaches, including Brighton beach, for 8,500 hours last year - or the equivalent of 354 days.

However, if you do want to take a dip in the sea this summer, doing so at one of the UK's Blue Flag beaches is your best bet.

The Blue Flag is awarded internationally to coastlines with the highest quality of water, facilities, safety, environmental education and management – a useful guide for anyone concerned about swimming in unclean sea water and potentially getting sick.

Devon and Dorset has come up trumps with the most Blue Flag spots to choose from, including Sandbanks in Poole and Oddicombe in Torbay.

Other beaches in England include Westcliff Bay and Three Shells, both in Southend-on-Sea and just a couple of hours drive from London.

Oddicombe Beach in Torquay. (Getty Images)
Add Oddicombe Beach in Torquay to your list of UK swim-spots this summer. (Getty Images)

Coasts in Wales given the prestigious award include the sandy-shores of Castle and South Beach found in the idyllic harbour town and resort of Tenby.

In Northern Ireland, head to West Strand and Whiterocks Beach of the much-loved small seaside town of Portrush.

Below, the full list of beaches across the nation that have been awarded a Blue Flag this year.

UK Blue Flag Beaches 2023

Northern Ireland beaches

Whiterocks Beach. (Getty Images)
The sandy coast of Whiterocks Beach in Portrush is waiting for you. (Getty Images)

Antrim (Causeway Coast and Glens council)

  • West Strand Beach, Portrush

  • East Strand Beach, Portrush

  • Whiterocks Beach, Portrush

Derry (Causeway Coast and Glens council)

  • Benone Beach, Limavady

  • Castlerock Beach, Coleraine

  • Downhill Beach, Coleraine


  • Tyrella Beach, Downpatrick

  • Cranfield Beach, Kilkeel

  • Murlough Beach, Newcastle

Wales beaches

Caswell Bay Beach
Dive into the shores of Caswell Bay Beach in Mumbles. (Getty Images)


  • Rest Bay Beach, Porthcawl

  • Trecco Bay Beach, Porthcawl


  • Cefn Sidan Beach, Llanelli


  • Aberporth Beach, Aberporth

  • Aberystwyth South Beach, Aberystwyth

  • Borth Beach, Borth

  • Llangrannog Beach, Llangrannog

  • Tresaith Beach, Aberporth


  • Central Beach, Prestatyn


  • Dale Beach, Dale

  • Broad Haven Beach, Broad Haven

  • Amroth Beach, Amroth

  • Coppet Hall Beach, Saundersfoot

  • Newgale Sands Beach, St Davids

  • Poppit Sands Beach, St Dogmaels

  • Saundersfoot Beach, Saundersfoot

  • Tenby Castle Beach, Tenby

  • Tenby South Beach, Tenby

  • Whitesands Beach, St Davids

Swansea Bay and The Gower

  • Caswell Bay Beach, Mumbles

  • Langland Bay Beach, Mumbles

  • Port Eynon Beach, Port Eynon

England beaches

Three Shells Lagoon in Southend-on-Sea in Essex. (Getty Images)
Bask in the lagoon of Three Shells in Southend-on-Sea. (Getty Images)


  • Crooklets Beach, Bude

  • Polzeath Beach, Polzeath

  • Carbis Bay Beach, Penwith Peninsula

  • Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth

  • Porthtowan Beach, St Agnes

  • Summerleaze Beach, Bude

  • Trevone Bay Beach, Padstow

  • Widemouth Sands Beach, Bude

  • Porthmeor Beach, Penwith Peninsula


  • Beer Beach, Seaton

  • Blackpool Sands Beach, Stoke Fleming

  • Broadsands Beach, Paignton

  • Croyde Bay Beach, Croyde

  • Dawlish Warren Beach, Dawlish

  • Exmouth Beach, Exmouth

  • Meadfoot Beach, Torquay

  • Oddicombe Beach, Torquay

  • Preston Sands Beach, Paignton

  • Seaton Beach, Seaton

  • Sidmouth Town Beach, Sidmouth

  • Torre Abbey Beach, Torquay

  • Westward Ho! Beach, Bideford

  • Breakwater Beach, Brixham


  • Weymouth Central Beach, Weymouth

  • Alum Chine Beach, Bournemouth

  • Durley Chine Beach, Bournemouth

  • Fishermans Walk Beach, Bournemouth

  • Manor Steps Beach, Bournemouth

  • Southbourne Beach, Bournemouth

  • Avon Beach, Christchurch

  • Friars Cliff Beach, Christchurch

  • Highcliffe Beach, Christchurch

  • Branksome Chine Beach, Poole

  • Canford Cliffs Beach, Poole

  • Sandbanks Beach, Poole

  • Shore Road Beach, Poole

  • Swanage Central Beach, Swanage

East Riding of Yorkshire

  • Hornsea Beach, Hornsea

  • Withernsea Beach, Withernsea

East Sussex

  • St Leonards Beach, Hastings

  • Hove Lawns, Brighton and Hove


  • Brightlingsea Beach, Brightlingsea

  • Walton-on-the-Naze Beach, Walton-on-the-Naze

  • Dovercourt Bay Beach, Harwich

  • Frinton-on-Sea Beach, Frinton on Sea

  • East Beach Shoeburyness, Southend-on-Sea

  • Shoebury Common Beach, Southend-on-Sea

  • Thorpe Bay Beach, Southend-on-Sea

  • Three Shells Beach, Southend-on-Sea

  • Westcliff Bay Beach, Southend-on-Sea


  • Beachlands Beach, Hayling Island

Isle of Wight

  • Sandown Beach, Sandown


  • Botany Bay Beach, Broadstairs

  • Joss Bay Beach, Broadstairs

  • Margate Main Sands Beach, Margate

  • Sheerness Beach, Isle Of Sheppey

  • Minster Leas Beach, Isle Of Sheppey

  • Minnis Bay Beach, Margate

  • St Mildreds Bay Beach, Margate

  • Stone Bay Beach, Broadstairs

  • Tankerton Beach, Whitstable


  • Central Beach, Mablethorpe

  • Central Beach, Skegness

  • Central Beach, Sutton-on-Sea


  • Cromer Beach, Cromer

  • West Runton Beach, Cromer

  • Sheringham Beach, Sheringham

North Yorkshire

  • Whitby Sands Beach, Whitby

  • Scarborough North Bay Beach, Scarborough


  • Southwold Beach, Southwold

  • Felixstowe South and Pier Beach, Felixstowe

Tyne and Wear

  • Long Sands Beach, Tynemouth

  • Whitley Bay Beach, Whitley Bay

  • Roker Beach, Sunderland

  • Seaburn Beach, Sunderland

  • King Edwards Bay Beach, Tynemouth

West Sussex

  • West Wittering Beach, Chichester

British Beaches: Read more

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