The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) has awarded four USVI beaches and two marinas with the prestigious Blue Flag status: The Palms at Pelican Cove, Green Cay Beach, and Green Cay Marina on St. Croix and Emerald Beach, Great Bay Beach and Crown Bay Marina on St. Thomas.
Headquartered in Denmark, the Blue Flag program recognizes commitment to sustainable tourism and excellence in environmental standards.
To obtain Blue Flag designation, beaches and marinas undergo annual scrutiny. They must meet specifics in four categories: environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, and safety and service. For example, Blue Flag beaches and marinas must offer environmental education activities and info on biodiversity and ecosystems.
“We have a 4 x 8 information board on marine biology and ecology, the reef, designated swimming areas and what to do in a rip current. We post water ratings weekly,” said Marc Mullins of The Palms at Pelican Cove. Under the management of Julie Printy, the Palms has won Blue Flag status for 5 years straight. Hotel owner and marine biologist Chuck Fischer guides guests on snorkel tours of the reef, giving each a photo disc of the tour.
France created the Blue Flag Program in 1985. In 1987, the “European Year of the Environment,” Europe adopted the program. Now it includes 49 countries. This year, the FEE extended its program to boat-based tour operators with activities such as nature watching, diving and charter tours. Worldwide, 4,271 beaches, marinas and sustainable boating tourism operators boast the Blue Flag.
Virgin Islands Blue Flag season runs from December 1st through June 30.