There are 31 stretches of the North West coast that are designated 'bathing waters' – just see our interactive bathing waters map for more details.
Monitored by the Environment Agency during the bathing season, which runs from May to September, these sites have to meet European guidelines on water quality, which were put in place to protect the health of any of us keen to swim, surf or just splash and play there.
The original bathing water directive was replaced by stricter standards in 2015. There are now four designations for water quality – Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Poor. Beaches with 'Poor' water quality have to display a sign advising the public not to bathe there.