Two beaches in North Devon and Torridge have been ranked as some of the best in the world by achieving Blue Flag status.

Westward Ho! basking in the sunshine. Picture: Sarah HowellsWestward Ho! basking in the sunshine. Picture: Sarah Howells

Croyde Bay and Westward Ho! have been named Blue Flag beaches for 2019, with those visiting assured of a clean, safe beach with great facilities and water quality.

It's the 16th year in a row that Westward Ho! has been awarded a Blue Flag, while Croyde is a new entry among the 71 with the status across the UK.

The two beaches have also been given Blue Flag Seaside awards by Keep Britain Tidy, for their cleanliness and facilities.

Westward Ho! beach is managed by Torridge District Council, while Croyde Bay is managed by Parkdean Resorts.

Croyde beach over the August bank holiday weekend.Croyde beach over the August bank holiday weekend.

Ian Kellett, Parkdean Resorts' chief financial officer, said: "We're extremely happy that Croyde Bay has received a Blue Flag Award and retained its Seaside Award.

"Ruda Holiday Park is a stone's throw from this amazing beach that is a must go for surfers and holidaymakers. The park has been working closely with local community groups and our dedicated beach ranger to make sure it is safe, clean and protected so that it can be enjoyed by people for years to come. It's a real jewel in North Devon."

Torridge District Council senior ranger, Michael Day, said: "We're very lucky in Torridge to have such a fantastic beach at Westward Ho! that has now achieved the Blue Flag award for 16 years in a row.

"It also backs onto Northam Burrows which is another important asset for rare wildlife and plant species.

Westward Ho! beach has been awarded a blue flag for the 16th year in a row.Westward Ho! beach has been awarded a blue flag for the 16th year in a row.

"The public's awareness of plastic issues in our marine environment has only increased interest in beaches that meet the strict criteria for cleanliness.

"The standard has been achieved through the hard work of our staff but also a great partnership with the many volunteers that help out.

"We look forward to welcoming many more visitors to the area."

As well as being clean, safe and having great facilities, Blue Flag beaches need to provide educational activities for the local community and visitors to make people aware of the importance of looking after the natural environment.

Keep Britain Tidy's chief executive, Allison Ogden-Newton, said: "Visiting beaches with the Blue Flag or Seaside Award status means beach-goers can feel more relaxed in a setting that is environmentally considerate. Which is why we're so pleased to announce 84 award winners in the South West.

"We as individuals feel emotionally connected to the environment more than ever, with so many experiencing eco-anxiety. Keep Britain Tidy continues to push for more environmentally responsible beaches, where visitors needn't feel this stress.

"We're incredibly pleased to have even more winners this year than last, proving the great dedication of the beach staff. From environmental education for the local community and ensuring responsible beach use, to cleaning regimes and an increasing number of recycling facilities, it is a full-time commitment to create beaches worthy of the awards.

"Thanks to the Blue Flag and Seaside Awards, visitors can be reassured their destination is cared for and they will be able to help maintain the high standards of these awards thanks to their environmental initiatives."