A marriage of land and water
Just over the Dutch border, Zeeland offers the complete seaside experience
by paola westbeek


eeland’s history will always be linked with water. From its very beginnings roughly 150,000 years ago, the south-western Dutch province has been engaged in a bittersweet relationship with the North Sea. Struggling to keep it out at one moment, basking in the glory of its glistening coastline and pristine beaches the next. After a devastating flood in 1953 which submerged large areas of the country and resulted in the deaths of nearly 1,800 people, urgent measures were taken to ensure a catastrophe of such magnitude would never happen again. Today, the region is connected by an intricate system of dams, dikes and barriers known as the Delta Works. It’s a network that together with the Zeelandbrug, the Vlaketunnel and the Westerscheldetunnel not only reduced the risk of floods, but also meant a marked improvement in Zeeland’s infrastructure. As an added bonus, the Delta Works created the perfect conditions for water recreation. The unique combination of sea and shallow inland waters spread over 650km of coastline equals plenty of space to surf, sail, swim, fish and even scuba dive. The Brouwersdam stretches between the islands of Goeree-Overf lakkee and Schouwen-Duiveland, closing off a sea

arm and creating a placid lake, the Grevelingenmeer. Visit on any given weekend during the surf season between March and October and you’ll notice rows of cars and caravans conveniently parked near the shore. Avid windsurfers and kite surfers arrive at the crack of dawn, bursting with adrenaline and eager to take on the elements. The more experienced thrill-seekers will usually head outside the dike in search of higher waves, while novices prefer to practise their technique on the gentle waters of the Grevelingenmeer. Even on shore, the surfers’ incredible energy is palpable as spectators watch them fly through the water in a spectacular display of speed and daring feats. Not far from the Brouwersdam is the port village of Scharendijke, also on the Grevelingenmeer. With the Oosterschelde and the North Sea, it’s an indisputable hotspot for scuba divers to discover sea anemones, lobsters, starfish, crabs and other types of marine life, or one of the three recreational shipwrecks sunk there in 2011 at depths of 10, 12 and 29 metres. If you’ve never explored the world below the water or need a diving buddy, Duikcentrum Scharendijke on the Haven Kloosternol offers lessons, guided dives and equipment rental.


Surfing lessons, equipment, restaurant and group accommodation 1 Ossenhoek Ouddorp

Luxury bed and breakfast in the heart of Veere with spacious, tastefully decorated rooms 7 Kerkstraat, Veere

Simple rooms and restaurant offering a selection of seafood specialities. Within walking distance of the beach 1 Rampweg, Renesse

Water park with rides, seals and information about the Delta Works Eiland Neeltje Jans 5 Faelweg Vrouwenpolder

Colourful gift shop with clothing, home accessories and toys 28 Markt, Veere

A good starting point for planning your trip www.vvvzeeland.nl


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Zeeland is a hit with fans of watersports, as well as those who prefer to stay on dry land

Water enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who might want to spend some time in Zeeland. For those who are keen on keeping their feet dry, the land offers sand dunes ideal for long walks, wide stretches of farmland selling everything from regional fruit to cheeses, and quaint towns where terraces invitingly tempt you to sit down for a local beer or a cup of coffee and a sweet, syrupy Zeeuwse bolus (cinnamon bun, a regional speciality). In Zeeland, gourmands can delight in some of Europe’s finest seafood. Plump mussels and oysters, Oosterschelde lobster (often referred to as the Rolls-Royce of its kind) and Stellendam shrimp are wellrepresented in the menus of many prestigious restaurants. In fact, no other Dutch province boasts as many Michelin-starred restaurants. Perhaps the most acclaimed, not just in the Netherlands, but also in the Benelux region, is Oud Sluis run by Sergio Herman. With three stars to its name, creations combine regional seafood specialities with sublime culinary artistry.


he area has plenty of ‘must-see’ cities and villages, and Renesse is definitely one to add to your itinerary. Every summer, thousands of tourists discover the colourful seaside resort and stay at one of its many

accommodation options, whether it be a won’t want to miss are the 12th-century campsite catering to families with small abbey and the Gothic-style town hall, which children or a cosy bed and breakfast perfect attests to the city’s Flemish influence. But for a romantic weekend getaway. Facing the art isn’t just for admiring. Collectors and Sint-Jacobuskerk on the town square, a host connoisseurs can delight in a variety of of restaurants, shops and cafes burst into galleries and interesting antique shops. life as soon as the weather starts to warm When it comes to watersports, there’s up. Don’t forget to check out the market held no better place to get some serious kicks every Wednesday from May until Septem- than in Zeeland, yet on land there’s still ber. If anything, it’s the perfect plenty to keep you amused and excuse to grab an ice cream at HOW TO GET THERE entertained. Add to that more Geleijnse Ijssalon and enjoy it hours of sunshine than the rest while strolling through some of the country and it’s easy to of the stalls. see why the neighbour ing Slightly more bourgeois are province is such an attractive Haamstede and Veere. Noord- Zeeland holiday destination. Enough straat, a pretty, tree-lined street Brussels reasons to cross the border and in Haamstede, is a good spot indulge in a little healthy sea to stop for lunch. In keeping From Brussels: air.  with the seaside theme, try Take the E19 in the the garlicky fried mussels at La direction of Antwerp then exit to the A12 Baguette or have the papardella towards Bergen-opfrutti di mare at Mi Casa. Then Zoom. At Markiehead over to Veere and visit the zaat junction take A58 to Goes/Vlissmarina dotted with colourful, ingen then exit 38 towards Middelburg envy-inducing yachts. No trip to Zeeland would be complete without a stop at Middelburg. Enclosed within its star-shaped fortifications is a city steeped in culture and historical allure. Two monumental buildings you