Every summer, our little family would venture outside Rotterdam to go the beach since we are usually holed up in a nearby campsite in Oostvorne.
Just a few minutes drive along the Maasvlakte 2, a massive extension of the Europoort Port in Rotterdam, a whole new world of long-stretch beach beckons. The Maasvlakte strand (Dutch for the beach) is technically also part of the extension that was dredged from the North Sea and therefore, man-made. This is a sort of the good side of this massive reclamation where areas are usurped for recreation and environmental protection. These days, it is popular among Rotterdamers and vacationers from all over the Netherlands and Germany.
This beach is ideal for everyone, especially those with children. A typical Dutch beach it is huge where children can run endlessly and make sand castles, see little fishes in the puddle and hike over the dunes surrounding. During high summer, it is advised to lather enough sunscreen since the sun here can be punishing. Better yet, bring a beach tent.
I prefer this beach from Scheveningen in The Hague because it seems endless. Even on peak season during the summer, there are plenty of spots to set up your tent or mat where your next beachgoer is a distant away. The absence of commercial ventures, except for a lonely frietzaak (selling fries, ice cream and burgers), makes this beach more appealing. But there is one exceptional frietzaak that you must visit while in the vicinity. Just about 10-minute drive at the end of the boulevard on a hilly portion of Maasvlakte 2, you will find a gem called Balkon van Europa (loosely translated as the balcony of Europe). This is the best place in the Netherlands for ship spotting as the world’s biggest ships pass by the North Sea from or to Rotterdam Port. It is run by a middle-aged couple who discovered the place while having a vacation in South Holland. These days, Balkon van Europa is the go-to place for truck drivers, ship spotters and vacationers like us.
Also along the way to the beach, there are conveniently located view decks to see the horizon and the whole extent of the beach and the North Sea. If you are lucky, you get to see seals in a protected spot.
For the curious how dredging is done, there is FutureLand (Europaweg 902, Maasvlakte) which is just about a few minutes from the beach. The information centre gives easy to understand explanation on a very complicated expansion of land by dredging the sea, definitely a Dutch expertise.
Maasvlakte beach is definitely a summer destination while in the Netherlands.