Discover the hidden gems of the Netherlands and experience the ultimate blend of summer and adventure on the open seas. Whether you're a seasoned sailor or just hunting for an exhilarating adventure this summer, the Netherlands offers a trove of breathtaking sailing spots that continue to astound. From picturesque lakes in Friesland to the wild tides of the Wadden Sea, this country is a paradise for adventurous sailing enthusiasts of all levels. Did you know that the Wadden Sea is the largest tidal system in the world and is therefore a UNESCO World Heritage Site? While the Netherlands may not guarantee sunshine, it most certainly promises an abundance of water.
Wondering where to go if you wish to avoid crowded harbors this summer? We asked our readers about their favorite sailing spots in the Netherlands. Discover the most beautiful sailing areas this country has to offer:
The creation of natural islands with sand, clay, and silt from the Markermeer is a project aimed at restoring and developing nature. Can a man-made island be just as beautiful as a natural one? The answer is a resounding yes. The vast water and protected nature make this location a tremendous success. You can even swim on two of the three beaches: the Havenstrand and the Noordstrand.
The Wadden Sea and Terschelling are beloved destinations for many water sports enthusiasts. With a flat-bottomed vessel, you can dry up wonderfully on the Wadden Sea. One of the many beautiful spots is near the Steiger van Lies; a stunning and sheltered place when the wind is from the northwest to northeast. Oyster enthusiasts can easily gather a decent meal here.
Unbeknownst to many, the Maasplassen in Limburg is one of the Netherlands' largest continuous water sports regions. Its impressive expanse is a whopping one and a half times larger than the Veerse Meer, offering a generous stretch of shoreline for anchoring. Also, its strategic location makes it easily accessible from various Dutch cities, making it an attractive destination for a quick escape from city life. Numerous marinas and docking facilities cater to the needs of sailors of all skill levels. Whether you're a seasoned sailor or a beginner in the world of water sports, the Limburgse Maasplassen awaits to delight you with its bounty.
Nestled near Giethoorn, this hidden treasure often goes unnoticed by tourists who visit the "Venice of the Netherlands." Beulakerwiede also offers access to the Belterwijde, the smaller ‘’kleine Beulakerwiede’’, the Boschwijde, and an array of channels like the kerkgracht and the westelijke schutsloot. Each of these lakes boasts its unique character and charming anchoring spots nestled amidst the reeds. The best part about Beulakerwiede is the opportunity it offers for delightful summer swims, thanks to its sandy bottom and shallow waters. Don't miss the route via Belt-Schutsloot and Zwartsluis, and the charmingly small lock of Arembergergracht – a perfect journey to enjoy "Dutch canals at their finest." A particular treat for those sailing flat-bottomed boats.
Veerse Meer (Zeeland)
Nestled between the Oosterschelde and the now-closed passage to the North Sea, you'll find the winding Veerse Meer. This brackish lake separates North-Beveland from South-Beveland and Walcheren. The lack of tidal currents, creating calm waters combined with a good wind, makes it an ideal and peaceful spot for sailing, paddleboarding, canoeing, and surfing. It's also a favored spot among fishing enthusiasts. With numerous small islands such as Haringvreter – named after the seals found by local fishermen – and Mosselplaat, you can dock just about anywhere (well, almost). Veerse Meer is situated far enough from the bustling cities to strike a perfect balance between sociability and open space.
Flakke Brekken (Friesland)
This is one of the many Marrekrit mooring spots on the Friese Lakes, frequently crowded. It's not accessible for everyone due to limited depth, but a flat-bottomed vessel with less than 60 cm draft can manage it. As a reward, you experience Southwest Friesland at its best in complete tranquillity. The reflection of the blue sky with white clouds on the mirror-like water when the wind is still, is simply magical. The open water is home to rare plants and water birds, but you're welcome to visit.
Lauwersmeer (on the Groningen/Friesland border)
At the Lauwersmeer National Park, the old tidal creeks provide shelter allowing even smaller boats to sail during rough weather. At night, gaze up at the starry sky at one of the last places in our country where it gets truly dark, enabling a clear view of the stars. In 2016, it was officially declared a Dark Sky Park. This declaration is unique as the Netherlands is one of the countries with the highest light pollution globally.