The Oostkapelle resort is located on the peaceful north-west coast of Walcheren, a former island turned into a peninsula in 1986 with the construction of the Oosterscheldekering Dam. Zeeland’s capital, Middleburg, just 10 km south, lies in the 17th and 18th centuries, and its wealthy citizens established country estates off the coast of Oostkapelle.
These ruins can be seen in what is now the nature reserve De Manteling.
The untamed Blue Flag beach of Oostkapelle, accessed by a path through the dunes, is unusual even by Walcheren’s lofty standards.
1. Ostcapelle Beach
To give you an idea of the quality of Oostkapelle’s beaches, the resort has won the “Cleanest Beach in the Netherlands” award four times in the past 15 years.
The last time, in 2017, was recognised with the Blue Flag and Quality Coast of the Year.
It’s safe to say that Oostkapelle Beach is pristine, both on the wide sand and in the water.
One of the advantages of a small, quiet resort like Oostkapelle is that there is no invasive development on the dunes behind; only beach pavilions such as Berkenbosch, Lage Duintjes, Zeecafe and De Piraat, where you can have lunch and shelter from the occasional squally wind.
You can stay on these shaded sun terraces and watch the sunset, which is always a spectacle.
2. Tela Maris
The 18th century orangery at Kasteel Westhove is a fascinating venue for a museum about the nature and landscape of Zeeland.
In this location, on the edge of the dunes, you are only a few hundred meters from the North Sea.
The physical history of Zeeland is a fascinating topic, the region reclaimed vast tracts of land from the North Sea, and the huge project of 20th century delta engineering helped save the Netherlands from flooding once and for all.
Some exhibition centres in some 100 villages in Zeeland got lost in the waves and displayed artifacts found from those sites.
Models show 11th-century farms, as well as dikes built in the 1600s, while the aquarium provides snapshots of marine life around Zeeland.
Outside is a 2.5-hectare landscaped garden showcasing the various habitats of the area.
3. Kasteel Westhove
Midway near Domburg is Kasteel Westhoeve, a moated medieval castle that can be seen from the outside.
No one knows for sure who built the stronghold, but in medieval times it was under the control of Middleburg Abbey, which had strong regional power during this period.
Among the many powerful men who passed through these gates were Philip I of Castile (1478-1506), as well as his wife and their son, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1550-1558). The castle suffered much damage in the Eighty Years’ War in the latter part of that century, and new estates were established on its grounds.
Today, it houses a youth hostel, while outbuildings, including the orangery residence Terra Maris, were rebuilt in the 18th century.
4. Molen D’Arke
Enter Oostkapelle on the Noordweg and you might miss the windmill hidden behind the house.
Molen D’Arke is a tower mill built in 1858 to replace an old vertical mill, reusing some of the mechanisms of earlier mills.
D’Arke has been with the same family since 1950 and returned to normal work in 2007. Two of the original three pairs of stones are still turning, and every Saturday and Friday in summer you can drop by to buy a bag of organic flour to grind on this fine monument.
If you are interested in the inner workings of the mill, the miller will be happy to give you a quick tour.
From Kasteel Westhove and Terra Maris, you can stride into a beautiful 740-hectare nature reserve, shaped by humans over hundreds of years.
Away from the dunes, the reserve encompasses historic estates established by Middleburg’s elite in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Some remnants of this period are stately streets and fawn herds.
You may be fascinated to learn that many flowering plants such as daffodils, snowdrops, rhododendrons, evening primroses and wood anemones do not grow naturally here, but are introduced by the estate.
Many species of woodpeckers and songbirds thrive in Demantlin, and they often sing in summer.
In Oostkapelle you won’t find a place to take a walk, as the east of the town is another peaceful natural space.
Combining a coast and its hinterland, Oranjezon is very diverse, combining beaches, high dunes, bushes and forests.
On the trails, you may encounter herds of wild Konik horses, which are left to graze on the dune steppe and ensure wider plant life.
Between these meadows and peak dunes, there are lush hawthorn and blackberry bushes that create habitat for dozens of breeding birds.
In autumn, migratory birds also visit Oranjesson, and the number of species found each year increases to 130. You can visit during the day and must adhere to the designated path to help maintain this precious environment.
Architecturally, the essential feature of this church on Waterstraat is the tower built at the end of the 14th century.
The building survived the Siege of Middleburg (1572-74) during the Eighty Years’ War, which took away the rest of the church and was rebuilt in the 1820s.
In summer, for a small fee, you can climb the stairs and visit two bells, one of which was cast in 1620. Inside, you’ll find a wooden pulpit from 1650, as well as sculptures of angels, including St. David’s harp belonging to an 18th-century organ case, which now adorn the gallery.
Even in this quiet corner of Valcheren, you can access the rest of the peninsula via a whole interconnected cycle path.
You can use the knooppunten (nodes) where the paths intersect to see everything the peninsula has to offer.
Just half an hour from the city of Middleburg, all of its Dutch East India Company heritage is within reach.
Locally designated routes, Fietsroute in en om Veere and Fietsroute Oostkapelle en Kamperland, meander through the dunes of the Veere region or to Kamperland’s huge Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier.
Being a tourist-oriented place, Oostkapelle has several rental shops, Robbert Boogaard Tweewielers and Bicycle Rental Festina Lente, so you don’t have to worry about not having your own wheels.
9. East Fort
The next resort along the coast is a short ten-minute drive away and, like Oostkapelle, first attracted holidaymakers in the 17th and 18th centuries.
In the 1880s, physician Johann Georg Mezger helped put Domburg on the map of European aristocracy, welcoming aristocrats and wealthy people who came for rest and healing.
Remains of this period are the splendid Neo-Renaissance Badpaviljoen (Bathing Pavilion), built in 1888-89 and now containing apartments.
Domburg has another majestic beach, as well as some historical monuments in its center, such as the baroque former town hall dating back to 1667. Domburg also has some other facilities such as swimming pools, a highly rated golf course (Domburgsche Golf Club) and a surf school, just a stone’s throw from Oostkapelle.
Every Thursday, there is a market in the centre of Ostkapelle to cater to the holidaymakers who flock each summer.
The market trades from 10:00 to 19:00 and everything is on sale.
There are beach-facing items such as books, toys and beach towels, as well as fashion, postcards, perfumes, nuts, candy, jewelry, leather goods, and ready-made snacks and meals such as freshly cut sandwiches, stroopwafels (caramelized pancakes) ) and poffertjes (mini pancakes).
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Osterkapelle, The Netherlands
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