Sand dunes and beaches – best hikes along Netherland’s west coast

Hiking Collection by Pauline van der Waal

Stretching for 219 miles (353 km), the west coast of Holland boasts over 124 miles (200 km) of beaches. From dunes to white sand, bunkers dating to WWII, forests and wetlands, a walk along the North Sea is never boring. I will show you the most beautiful walks along the coast in this Collection.

The first hike takes you through the unique dune landscape of Texel, the largest of the West Frisian Islands. You walk from the famous Eierland Lighthouse, through the beautiful Slufter area, finishing in the quaint village of De Koog. To reach this island on the Wadden Coast, you can take a twenty-minute boat ride from Den Helder, making it easy to enjoy this spectacular area on a short trip.

Between the village of Schoorl and the beach, you can visit the highest sand dunes in the Netherlands. The Klimduin dune, standing at 167 feet (51 m) borders the village. This 7.5-mile (12 km) route takes you through forests, over sand dunes and to wonderful beaches. You can even sneak in a few metres of climbing.

Perhaps the most famous nature reserve along the Dutch coast is the Amsterdam Water Supply Dunes (Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen) which have provided Amsterdam with drinking water for over 150 years. The area is also a great place for walking. Keep your eyes peeled and you may even spot some fallow deer.

Just south of Kijkduin district in The Hague is the Sand Motor. This artificial peninsula created by humans has been shaped by the waves, wind and currents to create a unique coastline. The dunes are open to the public.

The Kwade Hoek Nature Reserve on the tip of the island of the Goeree-Overflakkee island is a lesser well-known area to explore. As the reserve lies outside of the dykes, wind and water have created a special stretch of nature teeming with birds and with sand dunes blanketed in orchids.

The last walk on this Collection guides you through Walcheren, a former island on the mouth of the Scheldt Estuary in southern Zeeland. Here, you will walk through dunes as well as historic former country estates where Russian and German nobility once owned homes. The route finishes in Westkapelle on Texel island where you meet the lighthouse once more.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    Intermediate
    04:11
    10.2 mi
    2.4 mph
    125 ft
    150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Dunes of Texel National Park is a beautiful piece of nature in the Netherlands. De Slufter and De Muy are highlights on your route through the dune landscape. Of course you can do this walk if you are staying on Texel for a few days, but did you know that you can also easily do a day on Texel?

    From Amsterdam Central you are in Den Helder in five quarters of an hour and after a bus ride of about ten minutes, you sail in another twenty minutes to our largest Wadden Island. If you go by car you can park it for free right next to the boat in Den Helder. A return ticket Den Helder - Texel costs you as a pedestrian only a few euros. For all information and tickets, visit the website teso.nl

    This route starts at the iconic Eierland lighthouse on the northernmost tip of the island. To get there by public transport use the texelhopper.nl. These are flexible vans that you must reserve at least half an hour in advance. At the end of the route, take the normal scheduled service 28 from De Koog back to the boat.

    From the lighthouse you descend through the dunes to the south. Here you can enjoy the sea breeze and the beautiful views of the island and the sea. After about five kilometers of walking, the Deep Hole looms. This lake is populated by all kinds of waterfowl, including eiders and godwits.

    You are now walking into De Slufter. Here the sea has broken through the dike, so that the fresh water mixes with salt sea water. Nature is given free rein and you will see many plants and animals, especially birds.

    A little further is the dune area De Muy, where a colony of spoonbills lives. Here, too, birdwatchers in particular can have fun again. For a good overview of De Muy, climb the Bertusnol.

    You wind through the dunes until you reach the tourist village of De Koog. A nice place for a drink to recover from this hike of almost 16.5 kilometers.

    And, do you already know what you are doing? Going home the same day, or an overnight stay on Texel? In the latter case, you can take a detour to De Cocksdorp, climb the lighthouse, or walk from De Koog to Ecomare. Seals and birds are taken care of here and you can view the nature museum and sea aquarium.
    Make sure that you do not encounter many catering establishments during this walk. Your own lunch is therefore useful. Coffee or a beer is available at the lighthouse and of course in De Koog.

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    Intermediate
    03:06
    7.31 mi
    2.4 mph
    350 ft
    300 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Schoorl dunes are among the highest in the Netherlands. You start this walk at the most famous: the Climbing Dune of Schoorl. This 51-meter-high dune is also a good entry point. Children are often here for hours, ideal if their parents have a drink on the terrace at the bottom of the dune.From the top of the dune you walk towards the sea. After about two kilometers you will arrive at De Berenkuil, a nice terrace for a stopover. If you are not ready for a break yet, continue towards the extensive dunes. You leave the forest and enter a wide dune landscape, which sometimes even looks surreal with the bare trees in the distance. You cross this area and hear the murmur of the waves more and more clearly. No wonder, because you can see the sea on the beach crossing.You can dive back into the dunes at the next beach crossing via a stretch of beach. You walk towards the Zwarte Blink, a viewpoint that you can reach via a staircase. From here you have a phenomenal 360 degree view over the beautiful dunes of Schoorl.We turn north from the viewpoint. With a bit of luck we will see the large grazers that occur in the area, such as Konik horses and Scottish Highlanders. The horses and cattle regularly drink at the Vogelmeer a little further away. Of course you can also spot waterfowl here.After the lake, the vegetation on the dunes becomes denser again. You follow the path through the forest and walk on the rolling dunes. You train with your ascent and descent for a while before you return to the Climbing Dune on the edge of the village of Schoorl.You can park your car at the Klimduin. Public transport is also possible. You then travel by bus from Alkmaar station. For a snack and a drink you can go to the beach tent or when you are back at your starting point.

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  • Intermediate
    02:38
    6.38 mi
    2.4 mph
    150 ft
    150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The name Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen is quite literally. Drinking water has been extracted here for the city of Amsterdam since 1853, making it the oldest water extraction area in the Netherlands. In addition, it is also a protected nature reserve and great for walking. The Amsterdam Water Supply Dunes are also the habitat of the largest fallow deer population in the Netherlands.This walk of about ten kilometers starts at the Visitor Center. Of course you can go here for more information about the area. You follow the path through the folding gate until you see two bunkers.You may notice that the bunkers have strikingly high doors. This is not without reason, because the bunkers were built at the beginning of the Second World War by the Dutch government to store works of art. The doors had to be large enough to receive large paintings, for example. That went well until 1942, but because the threat became too great, the artworks were then transferred to Sint-Pietersberg. It is therefore not without reason that it is called the Museumduin here.You follow the winding path that slowly rises further. The wide plain is on your right and from this dune ridge you have a magnificent view over the dunes. In good weather you can see Zandvoort. After this point you start to descend again.You continue the route along the water to the fence where you enter the Island of Rolvers. This piece of dune area gets its name from the farm of the Rolvers family. This piece has only been open to the public for a number of years, so there are no clearly marked hiking trails. Adventure on the go! Keep following the path and keep the water on your left, you will automatically return to the marked route.When you cross the wider canal, you go to Pancake House Boshut 't Panneland. In the past, the Panneland dune farm used to be located just at another location, from which the pancake house got its name. So that has nothing to do with the pans in which the pancakes are baked.After a short break you walk a little back into the dune to continue along the water. This used to be a straightforward channel used for water extraction. This is no longer the case and the canal has become a natural stream. Just a little further, you will be back at the Visitor Center and your walk will end.You can park your car at the Visitor Center. If you come by public transport, take the bus from Heemstede Aerdenhout station. These are just a few stops, so you can also walk from the station. Bring your own food and drink for the road.

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    Intermediate
    02:17
    5.60 mi
    2.4 mph
    100 ft
    100 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Sand Motor is a unique piece of coastline. It is an artificially created peninsula off the coast of Ter Heijde. This is an attempt to provide the Dutch coastline with new sand.To date, Rijkswaterstaat has provided new sand on Dutch beaches every five years. If they don't, the land that has been extracted from the sea will slowly disappear into the water again.Since 2011, the Netherlands has been trying to achieve the raising of the beaches in a more natural way with the Sand Motor. After spraying the peninsula, the sea spreads the sand along the coast by current, ebb and flow. The Sand Motor protrudes one kilometer into the sea and is two kilometers wide on the beach. You can now also walk on the Sand Motor and see the process up close.You start your walk at the Zandvoortselaan parking lot in Kijkduin. From there we first make a detour to the Jutterskeet of Uncle Jan, to see what he has found on the beach.On the route you will encounter two viewpoints. First a bunker of the Atlantic Wall as a remnant from the Second World War. Then climb up again to the artwork of James Turell.From there you walk towards the beach and you can already see the Sand Motor. It depends on the height of the water how far you can walk without getting your feet wet.
    In the meantime, the dunes near the Sand Motor are no longer prohibited access as was the case for a long time, but you can add it to your walk.
    The route ends in Monster, with a well-deserved drink in the beach pavilion. You can park your car at the starting point, but of course you have to go back at the end. This can be done by bus.

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    Intermediate
    02:46
    6.83 mi
    2.5 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The special feature of the De Kwade Hoek nature reserve is that the water is still in control here, as has been the case for centuries. During the construction of the Delta Works, this section remained outside the dikes. This allows salt water to flow into the area and creates a mix of fresh, salt and brackish water.Also, pieces of land are sometimes completely under water, while they later become dry again. All this makes for a unique piece of nature that is always on the move.You start this walk at parking De Kwade Hoek. If you are staying in Ouddorp, you can also start at the parking lot north of the village, near the observation tower. You then take the same walk, only with a different start and end point.From the parking lot you walk through the dunes in the direction of Ouddorp. In the distance you can hear the sea and of course you can feel the wind dancing around your head. In this section you will undoubtedly see many meadow birds and geese, which you will also see in the polder of Goeree.But don't just watch the birds. This is also the place for dune valleys full of orchids and other plants. Also don't forget to listen. A humming bumblebee or a singing nightingale, they are all here.On your left you see the parking lot of Ouddorp and if you want take a look in the village. Otherwise you walk further towards the observation tower of Ouddorp.From here you have a great view of the surrounding dunes and in clear weather you can see the port of Rotterdam. You now take the path towards the beach. At low tide you can see the landmark the Oude Mast. You continue the route along the beach until you reach the slufter of the Kwade Hoek. With a little luck you will see a seal on a sandbar along the way.In this section you walk through unpaved paths and ramps through the often wet landscape. This makes De Kwade Hoek an important breeding area. Do you recognize the lapwing, skylark, robin wheatear, avocet and oystercatcher?From the wetlands of the slufter you walk back to the parking lot via a loop. You have now completed about eleven kilometers.De Kwade Hoek is not accessible by public transport. You can leave your car in the parking lot at the starting point.

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    Intermediate
    03:24
    8.33 mi
    2.5 mph
    75 ft
    100 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This special walk takes you past old country estates in the beautiful nature reserve De Manteling, through the artists' village of Domburg and of course along the beautiful beach of Walcheren.The route starts at the parking lot just North of the village of Oostkapelle. This is easily identified by the artwork "Being There", three large figures depicting a family. From there you walk into the wooded area of Buitenplaats Berkenbosch. Castle Westhoeve looms a little further. Nowadays Stayokay hostel is located in the castle. You only have to book a room to imagine yourself as a real castle lord or damsel. You can also only drink a cup of coffee.From here you can take the beach crossing towards the beautiful beach of Domburg. If you first want to walk further, you can skip the beach and stay behind the dunes for a while. You walk further through the forest towards Domburg. In the distance you can already see the lavish Bath Pavilion on the dune, open for a drink, lunch or dinner.We turn off to take a closer look at the picturesque and cosmopolitan town of Domburg. The first beach tourists came here in the 17th century and from the 19th century it has become a real seaside resort. You can choose to stay in Domburg and stick to the walk of about six kilometers.For more kilometers we walk further towards Westkapelle. The route continues towards Hoge Hil. From here you have a beautiful view of the beach and the sea, but also of Domburg itself. Via the Duinpad you walk through the vast nature towards the southeast. Can you see the lighthouse in the distance?Noorderhoofd lighthouse is located on the extreme eastern tip of Walcheren and is also known as' t Lage Licht. Together with the high lighthouse 't Hoge Licht (the end point of our walk) he shows skippers the way. After the lighthouse, follow the coastline and turn south.You will automatically come to the Sherman Tank, the memorial site on the dike of Westkapelle. Finally, you walk into Westkapelle towards the old lighthouse that towers over the village as a landmark. If you have any energy left, you can climb the lighthouse.Both Westkapelle and Oostkapelle can be reached by bus from Middelburg. If you want to return from the end point to the beginning, then also take into account a stopover in Middelburg.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    44.7 mi
  • Duration
    18:23 h
  • Elevation
    875 ft