Where the land and its inhabitants cohabit with the sea
Why visit Schouwen-Duiveland
Schouwen-Duiveland is a clear expression of Zeeland, or ‘Land-on-Sea’. Surrounded by the North Sea, the Oosterschelde National Park and the Grevelingen lake, it is a maritime marvel. To its south-west, the Oosterschelde flood barrier, and over to the east, the flood disaster Watersnoodmuseum, are incredible monuments that portray their strong relationship with the sea.
The island has ensured a wide range of responsible tourism offer: Green leisure parks with some marinas and water sport facilities, well-preserved and restored cultural heritage in Zierikzee and some small villages and well protected nature of the coastal sand dunes.
Culture & Local Life
With the development of tourism, investments have been made in the quality of cultural heritage to open it up, minimize traffic and focus on environmental improvement. With regional products and events, the attention for the local identity has increased enormously and this is an important part of the tourism-based product of Schouwen-Duiveland. A must see is the historical centre of Zierikzee with its 500 monuments.
One of the oldest traditions on the island is the annual Straô.
In the month of February local horse owners bring their animals to the ocean to wash their feet from the long winter months at the stables. It brings many crowds to the beach, since these horses are rather intimidating in size and their galloping makes the beach thunder.
The towns, villages, monuments and landscapes on Schouwen-Duiveland tell many stories. Stories of ordinary people who have created buildings and worked and the land. But also stories and traditions of special events that have taken place over the centuries and special people who have lived on their island. These mostly unique stories make them who they are today.
The unique intangible heritage of this island is Straô which dates from 1643 and takes place in the six villages on Schouwen in the period February-March. Horses and their riders head for the beach to rinse the horse’s legs after the winter all dressed in traditional customs. Find more information here.
Schouwen Duiveland’s municipality owns more than 1,200 national and municipal monuments. Of these, national monuments are the most important, followed by the 9 museums on the island.
With the development of tourism, investments have been made in the quality of cultural heritage, to open it up, to eliminate congestion problems, to focus on environmental improvement, etc. The latest investments, particularly in completing the National Ecological Network, are now being made. With regional products and events, the attention for the local identity has increased enormously and this is an important part of the tourism-based product of Schouwen Duiveland.
Schouwen Duiveland’s municipality has recognized a number of regional products: Oosterschelde lobster, Oosterschelde Mossel, Oyster, Krukels and Mesheften. There is also sea vegetables there. Seacoral and sea lavender grow on the border between land and water. Formerly food for poor people, nowadays a true delicacy! Find more about Schouwen Duiveland’s local products here.
The initiative “I have a link with Schouwen-Duiveland” seeks to promote Schouwen Duiveland in terms of living, working and staying and seeks to involve residents, visitors and workers in many of the events that take place in the island. All the actions are available on this website.
If you are more interested in nature, the environment and sustainability, the NME Center offers courses, organizes excursions and carries out activities in Schouwen-Duiveland, you can check their events here.
Schouwen-Duiveland is the most advanced “green destination” in the country! It tries hard to preserve its rich nature, reduce pollution and waste, save energy and reduce car-use. Tourism has an impacts and the opinion of visitors are monitored to improve visitor management and conservation.
Public bus services will get you almost anywhere, at reasonable costs. Use 9292 for info on connections. Your best buy is an OV chip card to use any train, bus or tram service. If you use a car, make use of Transferium Park and Ride (P+R). Park your car in outskirts of Renesse and take the many public transport lines to discover Schouwen-Duiveland’s nature, beaches and history (Zierikzee offers also free parking areas) in a sustainable way and avoid excessive traffic.
There are beautiful bike routes in Schouwen-Duiveland that take you from town to town in no time, and also give you more freedom while travelling. Busses are not as trustworthy in the area as at other Dutch destinations, so if you choose to travel around by bus we advise you to take at least the before-last option in the evening (busses often don’t run later than 20:00). Visit 9292 for current bus times.
Check other Good Travel Guide Destinations in the area to make the most of your stay!
Nature and Wildlife
With strong marine, coastal and inland ecosystems, Schouwen-Duiveland offers a wide range of nature experiences. Simply taking a walk to and along the beach, and you may run into deer and spot seals on one of the many sandbanks along the coast. Or join a boat trip to search for the elusive North Sea porpoises. Schouwen-Duiveland is immensely popular for its' sailing, wind- and kitesurfing spots and these favourable winds even allow for great sand-sailing.
Apart from the National Park, management plans have been established for almost all Natura 2000 areas, for example, the Kop van Schouwen which is a Natura 2000 area in the ‘dunes’ category on the west side of Schouwen-Duiveland. Since 1978 the area has been designated as a protected natural monument and since 1988 as a state natural monument. Parts of those areas are fully or partially closed off for species protection and to avoid disturbance.
Schouwen Duiveland’s municipality is truly engaged with nature protection and conducts a lobby if nature values are compromised. A recent example is a lobby with fishing as a result of the wrong bank of the bank in the Oosterschelde, as a result of which bottom life on the banks has disappeared. Rijkswaterstaat is now going to repair this.
The municipality attaches great importance to the preservation of landscapes and landscape beauty. A landscape vision has been drawn up for the countryside. New initiatives are tested against the vision, but the landscape beauty is also looked into by, among other things, maintaining the darkness, avoiding light pollution.
For a good nature experience in line with the versatile landscape of the island, it is nice to be able to enjoy quietly. For this purpose, special ‘viewer’ benches have been placed in various places overlooking nature.
The Oosterschelde is the largest National Park in the Netherlands. It is a unique and dynamic nature reserve. Thanks to the alternation of ebb and flow and the presence of salt and fresh water, thousands of species of birds, plants and animals live there, including seals and porpoises!
You’re allowed to collect mussels, oysters and periwinkles from the stones in the tidal zone but no shellfish such as crabs and lobsters may be caught or taken. Not even in small quantities!
The Japanese Oyster, native to the Pacific coast of Asia, is considered an invasive species and provincial plans to prevent its spread have been implemented. Nevertheless, recent investigations discovered that the competitive Japanese oyster is facilitating the return of its Dutch cousin, the Flat Oyster which nearly disappeared last century – only one island population in Lake Grevelingen survived!
This recent research revealed that Flat oysters predominantly use shell fragments from Japanese oysters as settlement substrate.
One of the main sustainable objectives of Schouwen Duiveland’s municipality is to promote bicycle use, starting by updating the junction system in line with the ambitions of the Province of Zeeland to become a 5-star cycling province. Moreover, in 2013 a network of 300 kilometers of footpaths on the island was realized.
All walking and cycling routes on the island can be requested via the website of VVV Zeeland.
The municipality has subsidized the purchase of electric scooters that are used by tourists.
If you’re traveling to the Netherlands, just remember this bin color code:
GREEN bin for the biodegradable waste
BLUE bin for paper collection
YELLOW bin for the plastics
RED bin for the household chemicals, batteries, etc.
GREEN containers for clothing
There are ‘return and earn’ machines stationed in all supermarkets; simply place your bottles and cans one by one on the slot, and the system calculates the pant value you get with each one. Get money for recycling!
Schouwen Duiveland’s is working on the energy transition to be energy neutral by 2040, meaning that all energy that is needed will be is generated within the municipality boundaries in a sustainable and/or renewable way.
To know more about Climate Change and its effects, there is the Watersnoodmuseum, the national knowledge and remembrance center that tells the story of the Flood of ’53, about the reconstruction, about the Delta Works and stories about water safety.
It also includes an exhibition on climate change and possible effects with an explanation of what you can do yourself, virtual reality gadgets to simulate this and testimonies of elderly people that experienced the disaster.
Travel tips from our editors
Respect the nature
With the wind in your hair, fresh Zeeland air and panoramic sea views, Schouwen-Duiveland’s island is perfect to explore by foot or bike. Enjoy the beautiful and varied landscape: dunes, sea, protected nature and national parks. Have a walk in the historical city of Zierikzee with its port and taste the typical fresh fish dishes. Read more here on walk or bike.
Visit during off-peak season
Schouwen-Duiveland is one of the Netherlands tourism pearls and has been discovered as such by German tourists. It can get crowded in towns like Renesse on the weekend and during school or religious holidays. But when it is quiet, Schouwen-Duiveland has a beautiful energy that relaxes even the most stressed person.
Enjoy the historic town
The island has a number of towns, each with characteristic city centers. During the summer these towns come alive with locals and visitors alike enjoying the weather, traditions and events. Read more here about the summer (and autumn, winter & spring) schedule of the island to discover which town matches your holiday vision.