Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Search in the Encyclopedia

Dieren en planten

Water en land

Fun at the beach, Ecomare, Oscar Bos

Coastal recreation

If you add up all the individual daily visits Dutchmen spend on the coast, you get a total of more than ten million a year. Furthermore, the Dutch take more than four million longer vacations along the coast, in the wadden region and in the delta area. During the high season, the coast is also visited by many Germans. All together, coastal recreation forms one fourth of all the forms of tourism in the Netherlands.

  • Activities
    looking for crabs, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    The beach is ideal for sunbathers and those that are looking for fresh air. In addition to sunbathing, swimming and walking, other forms of beach recreation include horseback riding, jogging, kite flying and beachcombing.

  • Beach reservations
    colony of Little Terns, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Disadvantages of beach recreation are pollution (particularly marine litter), takes up space (pavilions and parking) and disturbance of the beach fauna. Birds which nest on the beach, such as the Kentish plover and the little tern must find refuge in the Netherlands along the barely visited beach plains in the delta region and on the Wadden Islands. Therefore, the organization Stichting Duinbehoud ('Save the Dunes') pleads for establishing beach reserves along the Holland coast, at those beaches with an extraordinary nature value.

  • Blue flag
    Bblue Flag, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    The blue flag is a European mark of quality for beaches and yacht harbours. A town receives a blue flag if the seawater in their area satisfies the EC directive for swimming quality, if the beach or yacht harbour is well kept and provides toilets and rubbish barrels. Discharge points for household or industrial wastes lying nearby may not form a hindrance. When investigating the water quality, the eventual presence of faecal streptococcus (human waste) and salmonella is controlled. This investigation must be performed once every two weeks during the bathing season. The results of the study must be displayed on the beach and in the yacht harbours. In addition, the beach must be free of oil pollution and rotting seaweed remnants. Around forty beaches and 44 yacht harbours receive a blue flag every year. Beaches that have not earned a flag are Wijk aan Zee, Egmond, Bergen, Schoorl, Scheveningen and Hook of Holland because possible sewage discharge takes place.
    Furthermore, the coastal town must have a sound zoning scheme for the coastal zone and a good contingency plan in the case of an environmental disaster taking place. In February 2003, the Goede Reede (South Holland), Noordwijk and all of the coastal towns in the northern part of North Holland (with the exception of Den Helder) lost their blue flag because the swimming water no longer satisfied the strict European standards. The reason was that many of the townships along the coast had many problems in 2002 with too much water. The water purification installations were unable to handle the large amounts of rainwater, and the sewage water was discharged directly into surface water. The installations in the Hague, Beverwijk and Bergen in particular had too little capacity.

  • Dangers for swimmers
    strong currents, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    A dangerous current flows during ebb in the gullies between the sandbanks by the beaches. People continue to drown in these gulley currents every year. If one should end up in such a current, do not try to fight it since the current velocity can be as much as two meters per second. The best solution is to let oneself be carried to deep water where the current is less, or to swim parallel to the coast in order to get out of the current. Once behind the sandbank, it is possible to safely reach land again.