Making waves in Zeeland
Just a 2-hour drive from Amsterdam in the South West of the Netherlands lies Zeeland (or ‘Sealand’ in English), the Dutch answer to Long Island’s Hamptons. With its sweeping sandy dunes, crystal clear waters and seafood spoils, it’s the place that lazy, hazy summer dreams are made.
Zeeland’s picturesque shorelines and unique light have captivated the likes of celebrated artists Toorop and Mondriaan (to name but a few). And before the art crowd moved in, the wealthy region of Zeeland’s picturesque village Domburg was traditionally where the aristocracy came to enjoy a ‘spa’ day courtesy of the healing salty North Sea. With its pastel huts sitting pretty atop sparkling white sand and glittering waters, it’s easy to understand its restorative appeal.
But despite its picture postcard exterior, the Dutch province has weathered darker days. Late January 1953, Zeeland was hit by a devastating flood which decimated large swathes of the province, claiming the lives of 1,836 inhabitants.
The Watesrsnoodsmuseum [Flood Museum] was built to commemorate this tragic natural disaster and tells the story of the flood that changed Zeeland’s landscape forever. Poignant, personal narratives and images really hit home – extraordinary stories about ordinary people and the devastating power of the water.
Out of the tragedy arose the Delta Works, a unique structure built to prevent floods from ever savaging Zeeland in this way again. Three locks, six dams and four storm surge barriers make up the Netherlands’ largest flood defence system – an impressive feat of engineering often hailed as the eighth wonder of the world.
Let them eat fish
The area’s special relationship to the water has some very obvious perks. Zeeland is a culinary tour de force for seafood lovers — oysters, in particular, have a special connection to the area. Choose from the more exclusive flat oyster, best enjoyed raw with a pinch of pepper and spritz of lemon juice, or the wild oyster, delicious grilled. In true ‘do it yourself’ style you’re allowed to gather your own seafood supper in Zeeland, so for the DIYers out there, join our local host who’ll help you forage your very own catch of the day.
For those who prefer a less hands on approach to mealtimes, there are a bragworthy number of Michelin-starred restaurants all inspired by Zeeland’s waters. Don’t miss the mussel pan with fries, bread and sauces for a real local highlight.
Take the high ground
Set back from Zeeland’s dramatic coastline lies De Prunje nature reserve, home to the ‘Schouwse Schatkamer’, a traditional farm where you’ll be welcomed with strong hot coffee and delicious local sweet treats by its charismatic owner. The in-house museum tour promises a treasure trove of natural finds, stuffed birds and amusing anecdotes from life in the park. A great warm up for the park itself.
And that’s not the only slice of the natural world on offer – with a rich history of agriculture, many of Zeeland’s farms boast spectacular gardens which visitors are welcome to explore. While there, you can pick your own bunch of wild flowers or sample the farm’s homegrown produce (think delicious honey and cheese). The good life indeed.
What about a visit to the capital of Zeeland called Middelburg which was once during the time of the Golden Age the second wealthiest city in the Netherlands right after Amsterdam. The city was home to many shipyards and in this city most of the famous Dutch ships renowned for trade missions and exploring the ‘new’ world have been built. Do not miss the Gothic city hall dating back to the 15th century as well as the abbey and the monastery gardens…
Whether on land, water or enjoying the best of both, this Dutch gem has so much to offer.
Let us guide you through Zeeland’s smooth waters and enjoy the finest this charming land on sea has to offer, Fine Fleur style. You won’t regret it.