Noordwijk is located on the shores of the North Sea in the middle of Holland’s economic heart. This mundane coastal town, situated between the famous flower fields, the North Sea dunes and the beach, is also known as the ‘flower seaside resort’. Noordwijk truly is Holland’s finest beach, offering a unique combination of rural tranquillity and easy access.
Stretching over thirteen kilometres, the beach at Noordwijk offers peace and quiet as well as a host of outdoor pursuits. Noordwijk has been awarded with both the Blue Flag eco-label and the Quality Coast Award. The Blue Flag is an international award conferred on beaches and marinas, based on compliance with criteria for water quality, safety, environmental education, information and management. Quality Coast aims to establish a worldwide network of coastal communities that share the same values and practices on sustainable development, integrating their natural, cultural and social values while maintaining high standards of quality in tourism. Noordwijk is one of only eleven European beaches to be granted this award.
Holland has gained international recognition for successfully protecting the land against floods and an ever-rising water level. Since the great North Sea flood of 1953, which claimed over 1,800 lives, the Dutch government launched a coastal protection programme known as the Delta Works. This elaborate project involved closing off the mouths of most estuaries and building a vast network of dunes and dikes. In response to rising sea levels, in 2003 the Dutch government pointed out several ‘weak links’ along the Dutch coast which needed to be reinforced within the near future. Noordwijk is one of the locations facing this challenge.
Dike in dune
In 2008, Noordwijk began reinforcing its beaches in collaboration with the Rijnland District Water Control Board, the Dutch government and the province of Zuid Holland. Noordwijk decided on a seaward barrage known as the ‘dike in dune’ approach. While the famous beach of Noordwijk was widened significantly and transferred some 50 metres seaward, its characteristics remained largely intact. In order to guarantee safety from rising sea levels in the future, the newly formed space between the shifted beach and existing dunes was filled up with a dike. Dikes are known to offer more flood resistance than dunes. However, to maintain Noordwijk’s natural beauty, the dike was then covered with sand and vegetation to help it blend naturally with the existing dunes. By choosing the ‘dike in dune’ approach, Noordwijk achieved sufficient protection while at the same time preserving its natural beauty and recreational facilities. The decision guarantees that Noordwijk will remain Holland’s finest beach for generations to come.