We have SIX Blue Flag beaches

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It’s official: The North Coast have the best beaches in Northern Ireland.

The International Blue Flag Awards have once again recognised ten of Northern Ireland’s beaches as “world class” for their facilities and water quality - with six local beaches on the list.

The local beaches reaching the benchmark are Castlerock, Benone, Magilligan, West Strand and White Rocks, Portrush and Portstewart Strand.

Cranfield Bay, Crawfordsburn, Murlough Beach and Tyrella, all in Co Down, completed the top ten.

Two marinas in Ballycastle and Ballyronan were also given Blue Flag status.

The Blue Flag Award recognises beaches with the highest standards of facilities and water quality.

The awards are presented to each beach on Wednesday, the first day of the 2016 bathing season, by the International Director of the Blue Flag programme, Sophie Bachet Granados, the Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen and Andrew Patterson from Tourism NI at an event in the iconic Arcadia building in Portrush.

Blue Flag beaches offer the highest standard of visitor facilities including toilets, lifeguards if necessary, first aid during peak hours and disabled access onto the beach.

Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen said: “I am delighted that once again so many of Northern Ireland’s beaches have received the coveted Blue Flag and Seaside Awards and that our first-class Marinas have also been recognised.

“These awards are testament to the hard work and dedication of those who manage our beaches. These hard-won awards let people around the world know that Northern Ireland is open for business and that our beaches are first class destinations: clean, healthy and safe to enjoy.”