Something for everyone at Oosterschelde National Park

I (Ellen van den Doel, photographer) like to seek out the sea, or at least water, when I go on a holiday. As soon as I smell the briny air and see the wide open water, I calm down and relax. One of the great things about the Netherlands is that you never have to drive very far to find water. Oosterschelde National Park is a region near where I live. In this blog, I will tell you about this beautiful area, hoping to convince you to come and enjoy the beauty that the Oosterschelde has to offer.

Uitgestrekt Oosterschelde gebied
Photo: Ellen van den Doel
Oester uit de Oosterschelde
Photo: Ellen van den Doel

 

Water life, the various inlagen and tidal flats – there is so much to see

Oosterschelde National Park is surrounded by the islands of Schouwen-Duiveland, Tholen, Sint-Philipsland, and Noord- and Zuid-Beveland and it is bounded by the Delta Works. This region is literally all about water, in the past as well as today, and the water’s influence is apparent everywhere. As a result, it is a diverse and special region. There is so much to see, including the water life, the various inlagen (polders between main and reserve dikes), and the tidal flats. 

There is something for everyone here. Dive sites have been created in many places along the Oosterschelde, since divers love to come and see the beautiful world underwater. There is also plenty to see if you are not a diver. Standing on the many dikes, you can see much of what goes on underwater because the water is so clear. Or you can go snorkeling, which might seem more suited for tropical destinations but the beauty of the Oosterschelde will surprise you. 

I stand amazed at kite surfer acrobatics on the water

If you prefer above-water activities, there are also plenty of possibilities. Kite surfing is a popular activity here, particularly near the Oesterdam near Bergen op Zoom. I’ve never gone kite surfing myself but love to watch their acrobatics on the water. It is also a favorite subject for photographers, with plenty of action to record. 

Something that really interests me in this region is the history of the Watersnoodramp or great flood of 1953, as well as the Delta Works. The battle against the water has been going on for centuries, resulting in the low-lying polders between dikes (called inlagen) that are omnipresent on Schouwen-Duiveland in particular. The great flood had a huge impact on this area, so the Watersnoodmuseum in Ouwerkerk is a must-see. The Schelphoek area, which came into being after a dike breach, is another highlight. On a beautiful summer day, it is difficult to imagine how dangerous the water can be. If you visit the dike on a stormy day, the water looks altogether different. This is part of what makes this region so beautiful – it is ever changing under the influence of the weather and tides. 

After a day tour and enjoying a range of activities, it is time for a good meal. There are plenty of great eateries in the villages and towns along the coast. There is no better place to order fresh fish, mussels and oysters, being in such close proximity to their habitat. 

 

If you are lucky, you’ll spot a seal

I begin my next day visiting the Zeelandbrug and Neeltje Jans, both impressive structures that are characteristic to the region. Not only are they well worth driving across but it is also a good idea to stop nearby for a moment. The Zeelandbrug makes a great sight from the shore, particularly from the Colijnsplaat end. You can spend an entire day exploring the Deltapark and its surroundings on Neeltje Jans, which makes for stunning walks. You may even spot a seal if you are lucky. 

Yerseke Moer, unlike anything else

Because I live quite close to this beautiful region, I have visited it several times. Even so, Yerseke Moer was a wonderful surprise. It was my first time visiting this extraordinary spot, and I soon realized it was unlike anything else. Narrow meandering paths and ditches, with plenty of cows and lots of birds everywhere. The best thing is that you can leisurely stroll around at your own pace. This is truly a hidden gem. And speaking of (early) birds, I highly recommend going for a walk here at dawn. If you are lucky, you will catch a picturesque scene of the heavy fog laying low at ground level and the cows emerging just above it.

This region should definitely be on your ‘to do list’. And no matter the season, you will always come away with a joyful holiday feeling.