Sailing season is almost here with the approaching spring. As our boat is getting ready to go back to the water to a hopefully warm Easter weekend for our first sail this year, I’m revisiting all of our favourite harbours and marinas around the Netherlands that we’ve been to.
We mainly sail in the Markermeer and IJsselmeer, which used to be part of a salt water sea called the Zuiderzee until it was diked in 1932 and turned into sweet water lakes. When we have more time to sail, usually during the summer vacation, we also venture outside the lakes and go out into the Wadden Islands and the North Sea. The surface area of these bodies of water is not really big, but each coastal town have at least one harbour, and in the last 4 years we’ve been to quite a number of them. Some harbours are more memorable than others, in good or bad way, but considering their location, facilities and atmosphere, I came to a short list of 8 harbours that we really enjoy staying at.
1. Waddenhaven Texel
Waddenhaven Texel is the only yacht marina in Texel, and we love it so much we’ve been coming back every summer for 3 years in a row. It’s got great facilities, spacious playground, located in beautiful surrounding. The closest town is Oudeschild, but nearby the marina is a minimarket, restaurant/bar, a swimming beach, and a bike rental. It is popular with families, and The Kid always managed to forge some boat friendships within 15 minutes of arriving. It is very safe that we let her roam around to swim, fish or paddle with the other kids.
The island itself got plenty to offer. Hop on a bike and you can get yourself everywhere on the island to visit its picturesque villages, local breweries, quintessential farms, nature reserves, or go to local restaurants for their fresh fish and lamb.
2. Marina Makkum
Marina Makkum was a new find from last summer’s trip. We had a very long and tedious sail from the island of Terschelling that we simply went to the first harbour after the dike. We were pleasantly surprised by the marina. Located within a relatively large holiday park and camp ground, the marina has excellent and well-maintained facilities (from experience, not a very common thing with marinas in these kind of properties). We also have free access to the holiday park’s facilities such as the swimming pool, play island, animations (if we wanted to, but nobody’s interested) and petting zoo. There’s also a beach (and beach cafes), a supermarket, restaurants, and several playgrounds for the Kid. We planned to only stay the night, but after exploring the area, decided to stay another night and let The Kid have some more fun before going home (it was our last stop at the end of the trip).
If we’re in that side of Ijsselmeer next time, I think we will go back to this marina again.
3. Pekelharinghaven, Medemblik
Located halfway between our home harbour and Texel, our favourite summer destination, Medemblik becomes our halfway check point for the trip. There are three harbours in the town, but our favourite is the Pekelharinghaven marina, within walking distance of the Radboud Castle, Queen Emma Park, and the town center. The marina’s facilities are basic but decent, but its vicinity to the small but bustling town makes up for it. The Queen Emma Park is a favourite hangout for the animal-loving Kid with its extensive petting zoo. Read more about Medemblik.
4. De Zeevang, Edam
Sometimes we just wanted to do a short sail for a weekend. Edam is an leisurely sail around 2 hours away from our home harbour, and while we can sail all the way through the lock and moor closer to the town, we always prefer to stay at De Zeevang harbour, just on the mouth of the canal that goes into the town. It’s a small and quiet harbour right by the water, with plenty of open spaces and easy access to the swimming beach. The old town of Edam is 2 km away and can be reached in 10 minutes by bikes loaned by the harbour.
5. Buyshaven, Enkhuizen
Another halfway point in the Ijsselmeer, we frequented Enkhuizen at least twice a year. Buyshaven marina is smaller than the sprawling Compagniehaven and tucked a bit away from the town harbour, but we love it because it’s right beside the train station. Trains seems inconsequential when you have a boat, but it is often that Hubby and The Kid would leave a day or two earlier while I still need to stay behind and work (they both have more vacation days than me), and I can catch them up easily in Enkhuizen. It’s also a convenient place to pick friends up who join us for a leg.
The marina has good facilities; spacious and modern toilets and shower rooms (including family showers) play area and a well-supplied BBQ pantry. It is a bit of a walk to the town, but just behind the station you can find cafes selling fresh fried fish, fries and ice creams which always make great lunch before setting sail in the afternoon.
6. Waddenhaven Vlieland
Vlieland is Texel’s neighbouring island. Waddenhaven Vlieland tops the list for idyllic setting; framed by woodlands to one side, white sand beach on the other, and colourful corals actually growing on the piers themselves. However, it is always super busy in the summer and places are limited. Everyday, there’s a commotion of new arrivals in the morning trying to get a berth, while other boats cruising out. The piers are full of smaller children trying to fish, and older children selling home made trinkets. There was always a line in the bathrooms. But it’s not popular with no reason. It is easy to fall in love with Vlieland. Outside the harbour, we can disappear into the woodlands, bike over the dunes and fine the perfect deserted beach or do some shopping the the village of Oost-Vlieland (the only village on the island).
7. Marina Monnickendam
We are a bit biased about this Marina Monnickendam, since this is our home base, and for that reason we’ve never been to other harbours in Monnickendam. Located 10 minutes away from the old town of Monnickendam, it’s been like a second home to us for the past 5 years, and for The Kid, it’s practically a summer home. The marina is not very big, and it’s got a good community vibe with friendly neighbours and plenty of children for The Kid to play with. It’s got a nice play area for children complete with trampolines, and the water is away from traffic that they can safely swim or paddle their rubber boats around. We can always walk to town for supplies, but for emergencies, there is a small shop by the harbour master’s office with vending machine for cold beer and other drinks just in case we ran out.
8. Muidenhaven, Muiden
I didn’t want to include this Muidenhaven in Muiden in the list, but Hubby insisted that it’s his favourite, if only for the romantic view it’s got. And he’s right. It is quite special when we could sit outside on the deck on a warm night, cold beer in hand, with the illuminated Muiden Castle in full view.
The marina itself is not bad, but it’s probably the poshest one in North Holland, with the royal boat permanently moored here, and the rest of the resident sailors come from the surrounding wealthy area. It means the facilities are excellent (I think they’ve got the best showers), even though the restaurant is rather pricey, but it lacks the laid back atmosphere I found in other marinas. There’s no play area for children but a small beach nearby, and the town on Muiden itself is about 20 minutes on foot.
After 4 years in sailing around the area, we feel that we are running out of new places to sail to and we’re considering the option to move our boat somewhere closer to Amsterdam for easier access to the southern part of Holland, Zeeland and perhaps even further south to Belgium and France, possibly by next year. We still have to figure out the logistics of the move, and we will miss some places around the Ijsselmeer, but I’m already looking forward for more chance to sail the open sea and to explore more harbours and coastal towns on the other side of the country.