Northern Ireland’s beaches and resorts have won the most Blue Flags ever.
This year, 11 of the province’s finest beaches and two marinas received the International Blue Flag, while seven resort and rural beaches got the Seaside Award.
Tidy NI, which presented the awards, is urging people to dip a toe at an award-winning beach this summer. It has just launched a special beach map, which can be viewed online, at Tourist Information Centres and at local beaches.
Presenting the awards at Crawfordsburn Country Park, Environment Minister Alex Attwood said beach users and seaside towns know they can expect the best when they see a Blue Flag or Seaside Award symbol.
"The high number of awards this year reflects the excellent water quality recorded at our bathing waters last year," he said.
The minister also launched a new beach website for Northern Ireland at www.beachni.com.
The new site developed by Outdoor Recreation will provide a one-stop shop for information on 23 beaches by giving detailed and relevant information on each beach.
Blue Flag beaches must meet 32 criteria, including guideline bathing water quality as set by the EU Bathing Water Directive. The Seaside Award operates in a similar manner including meeting the mandatory EU standards for bathing water.