For more than a millennium, the Dutch have battled against the powerful North Sea and its natural propensity to flood this low-lying country. At the same time, they want to take advantage of the recreational activities possible when you have such a long coastline. Luckily, they have been able to hold back the sea and still develop some of the most extensive beach facilities in Europe. Here are…
#1 – SCHEVENINGEN BEACH: Consistently voted “Best Beach in the Netherlands”, this seaside community of The Hague lures expat sun bathers of all ages. The well-developed strand and seasonal beach pavilions offer a plethora of restaurants, beach and water sports, activities for children and attractions for young and old alike. Scheveningen beach is also where some of The Hague’s biggest annual events take place, including the ‘International Fireworks Festival’ (August) and the ‘International Kite Festival’ (September).
#2 – KATWIJK BEACH: Now that construction of its new flood defense system is complete, Katwijk aan Zee beach has become even more inviting for sun seekers and anyone who enjoys the outdoors. The modern underground parking structure, a key element of the recently completed project, offers ample parking even closer to the beach than before. Beach pavilions offer cabana rentals and assorted water sport activities. In addition to the monumental white church and historic Katwijk lighthouse, the boulevard offers a multitude of restaurants serving an array of cuisines which one can enjoy seated on a street-side terrace. Just across from the beach is the Katwijk Sea Side shopping center.
#3 – HOOK OF HOLLAND BEACH: Rotterdam’s largest beach is in Hook of Holland (Hoek van Holland), north of the breakers at the mouth of the Maas river. The beach is popular with both sunbathers and beach/water sports enthusiasts. The HoH strand offers both seasonal beach pavilions and year-round restaurants. By public transport, the Hook of Holland beach can be reached in just over 1/2 hr via Sprinter from the city center (Rotterdam Centraal). If coming by train from the north (Leiden, The Hague, Delft), one can connect with the Sprinter at Schiedam Centrum (25 mins. from there to Hoek van Holland).
#4 – NOORDWIJK BEACH: Both the beachfront Palace Hotel and the nearby Noordwijk Golf Course have gained international attention, so it should come as no surprise that the 13-km long Noordwijk beach is also one of the finest beaches in all of Holland. There are several distinct sections, each with a a slightly different personality. For the average tourist or residential sunbather, the best choice in terms of accessibility, convenience and facilities will be the beach just in front of the village center, near the Noordwijk lighthouse (Vuurtorenplein). To get there by public transport, take Bus 385 (Qliner) from Den Haag Centraal Station (45 minutes) or Bus 20 from Leiden Centraal Station (25 minutes).
#5 – WASSENAAR BEACH: Although it’s not accessible by public transport, Wassenaar beachgoers are rewarded with a more pristine and less chaotic beach scene than those in neighboring Scheveningen and Katwijk. Beach chair and cabana rentals are available as are water and wind sport activities.
#6 – KIJKDUIN BEACH: The Hague’s smaller coastal community of Kijkduin offers an attractive beach which is fairly accessible by public transport. Bus lines 23/24/26 stop just meters away from the beach, but commuting by tram (tram 3) requires a 15-min walk from the nearest stop (Heliotrooplaan). The Kijkduin strand includes a few shops, restaurants and children’s merry-go-round, while Hotel NH Atlantic Den Haag offers accommodations right on the beach. The Kijkduin Deltaplein beach area is scheduled for a makeover during the next few years which will modernize the facilities and generally make this often overlooked beach community more inviting to visitors, tourists and even residents of the city who live outside the Loosduinen district.
#7 – TER HEIJDE BEACH: Monster’s seaside community Ter Heijde is the best choice for sunbathers in Westland. The wide, well-maintained bike paths make it easily accessible from both the north (Kijkduin/The Hague) and the south (Hook of Holland). Beach pavilions such as Biondi Beach, Moments Beach and Jamm Beach serve food throughout the day, while others offer beach and water sports options. By public transport, Bus 31 to Duinstraat in Monster.
#8 – ROCKANJE BEACH: Heading south from the Port of Rotterdam and before reaching the first dam built as part of the Deltaworks flood control project, lies the long narrow, southwest-facing beach of Rockanje. Although the beach is not adjacent to the town center, it is accessible by car, bike and limited public transport (Bus 103). Beachclubs such as Salsa, Verso and Havana offer both dining and water sports options.
#9 – OUDDORP BEACH: The second largest town on the South Holland island of Goeree-Overflakkee is Ouddorp, located on the western edge between the Haringvliet dam and the Brouwersdam. The North Sea beach of Ouddorp is a major attraction for international tourists, especially Germans who flock to the holiday caravan parks and recreation camp sites located near the beach. There are several beach clubs along Ouddorp, with most offering some form of wind and/or water sport.
#10 – MAASVLAKTE BEACH: South Holland “newest” beach also happens to be one of the largest. The Maasvlakte beach and strand was created on the back side (North Sea side) of the Port of Rotterdam Maasvlakte II extension. It was completed in mid-2012 and offers a beach for sunbathers, a nude beach for naturalists, bike trails along the top of the dunes and an assortment of water sports. The beach can be reached by car and bike, but not public transport.