Oosterschelde National Park

The Oosterschelde, great in every way

A world of mudflats, salt marshes and sandbars where the tides transform the landscape twice a day. The Oosterschelde or Eastern Scheldt is the biggest and wettest national park in the Netherlands. Originally a river mouth, the construction of the Delta Works changed the dynamics of this area completely. Today, it is a estuary where 800 billion liters of water flow in and out every tidal cycle. It never gets boring when you stare at the horizon searching for porpoises (small toothed whales) or seals. Or dive into the colorful underwater world. At the same time, behind the dikes, the memories of living with the sea live still linger on.

Underwater life coming up

The landscape changes continuously under the influence of ebb and flood. At low tide, large swathes of land fall dry, revealing a variety of plants and animals. If you take the time, you can see the metamorphosis happen in front of your eyes. Many plants and animals have adapted to these extreme conditions.

There is a wealth of water plants in the Oosterschelde, such as anemones and seaweeds, as well as animals like cuttlefish and seahorses. You might even spot a rare shark.

Nesting, resting, and spending the winter months

Plenty of birds come here in winter and summer, to nest, rest, and spend the winter months. When the tide is low, you will be able to spot oystercatchers, redshanks, curlews, and spoonbills on the dry mudflats and sandbars. They are hunting for bottom-dwellers and water animals to eat. When the tide is high, they rest on the salt marshes, clay reclamation fields, and polders between two dikes. If you want to see if the tide is high or low, look where the birds are. Except for the ducks, since they dive underwater to find food.

Nationaal Park Oosterschelde - Zeewier in hand
Photo: Antonette Spaan

Briny delicacies

The sea, and the impact of the tides in particular, brings forth a huge wealth of plants, seaweeds and animals and molluscs. In olden days, people often harvested glasswort and sea aster (lamb’s ear) for dinner on the mudflats along the coast. Today, you need a special permit to do so. The fishing community also thrives on the wealth of the Oosterschelde, with amazing mussels, Oosterschelde lobster, and clams from Zeeland.


Open Oosterscheldekering

The Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier, the biggest and most famous section of the Delta Works. The nine-kilometer storm surge barrier closes off the Oosterschelde under adverse weather conditions. A closed dam was planned initially, but huge sluicegate-type doors were installed to preserve the extraordinary nature reserve. As a result, the water is still salt water and the tides still run.

The island of Neeltje Jans, which served as a work island during construction of the storm surge barrier, has been converted and is now a nature reserve. The elements were given free rein and a dune landscape emerged. It is freely accessible so you can roam the roads and trails.

Nationaal Park Oosterschelde - Oester steken Zeekajakken

As fresh as it gets

What could be more delicious than harvesting your own oysters from the sea? It’s as fresh as it gets. Join a guide and search for delicacies from the Oosterschelde. The guide will explain where you are allowed to harvest, things to keep in mind, and the best spots for the most flavorful finds. A wonderful activity to combine with an overnight stay at mini camping site Zeelucht, for instance in a unique gypsy wagon.

A list of all of the highlights

Set off with the forest ranger, wander around the pristine nature or explore the past.

Dive into the magical underwater world

In your boots through mudflats and salt marshes

Porpoise spotting from land or water




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