Hoek van Holland Strand (Rotterdam Beach)This one is what’s called the 'Rotterdam Beach' to the people living close by. There are actually two beaches, both officially Hoek van Holland Strand. Or to be more precise, the entire stretch of beach is called like that.
Anyway, the easiest beach to get to – even with public transport – is the closest one to the Maas coming out of Rotterdam. Take the train, metro or car and just follow the signs to Hoek van Holland. It’s also the loudest and most entertainment-oriented beach, especially in the summer. If you like après ski, that’s the place to go to. There are a lot of beach restaurants, some shops and large public toilet facilities. Moreover, if you're coming by car, parking spaces are not a problem here.
Technically you can walk on Rotterdam’s beach all the way up Zandvoort - or even Den Helder if you are willing to take a detour. However, all the beaches have different names or at least belong to different villages and towns.
Hoek van Holland StrandThis is the second entry to the beach and it's a little further up the road. Here, it’s a bit quieter, more people with bikes and cars arrive here. There is a guestimate of around 100 parking spots. Locals from Hoek from Holland call it “their” beach.
You will find two beach bars here; one is newly open and caters to what foods and drinks the average city-dweller is now used to. Even better admittedly.
You will also find two surf schools here. If you take surfing seriously, there is just one place to go to at the whole beach which is Perry’s Surf school. The man personifies surfing and is a great teacher for all ages and so is his daughter. He is even so real about it, when the tide is cold in the Netherlands, he packs up shop and moves to Hawaii or New Zealand.
There is also a children’s play aeroplane, for days when it’s too cold to play with water all the time. Walking to the beach is a flat and straight affair which is why there are quite a few bike stalls to leave your bike.
Nude Beach (Naaktstrand Hoek van Holland)Next up is the beach for people keen on feeling the sea on every part of their body: the naked beach. It’s not as easily accessible, but that’s probably because there is a more limited number of people wanting to use it. Also, there are no extra facilities like beach clubs etc.
's Gravenzande StrandA nice option (especially when other beaches are too packed). It’s just a little further down the road. There are two very nice beach clubs here too, a small public toilet and many parking facilities. If you want pizza on the beach baked in a proper pizza oven, you must go here. Walking to the beach is going up one dune, down one dune and up the next, so it is a bit hilly. The walk is no longer than 5-10 minutes (depending on your company). It does get hot in the summer in this tiny valley, so make sure you’re equipped for it.
Watch out in the summer if you go by car (and there is hardly another way to get there) though! Do keep €4 in coins with you at all times. You will otherwise not be allowed into the parking lot – no, no cards, no bills, no other options. And do not try to change your money at the pub close to the parking lot. Even if you buy something or have a honking line of cars waiting behind you and a ton of hot, crying children in the car; these people will not help you. So, just make sure you got your coins ready and you’ll be fine.
The water is easy to access with a long slow slope. It’s ideal for even small children. There are even some shallow but sizable puddles forming on the beaches, so you get shallow water pools that warm up fast in the summer. The water itself has the tendency to be murky and brown. Together with the very industrial backdrop of the harbour, this can take some getting used to. Especially if you have rather more romantic holiday memories of beaches.
Surfs upThere is some good surfing to be had for surfers, windsurfers and kite surfers alike. Most of the sea is an option, but Hoek van Holland and the Maasvlakte are most used. However, the rule of thumb is, the better the weather, the calmer the sea. I don’t mean you should only be going in hail and thunder, but generally grey skies and wind have a higher chance of it being a good surf day. You can always check the surf weather website of your choice or again head over to Perry’s side www.surfschoolhoekvanholland.com just to make sure you’re not just going for a nice meal.
City beachesJust to be complete, there are some city beaches in Rotterdam that have nothing to do with the sea. These beaches are on the banks of rivers and lakes.
Kralingse Plas (Kralingen Lake)If you just want sand on your toes and a bit of water close by you can also go to Kralingseplas (a lake with some wood around) which has a bit of beach. If the algae or birds haven’t claimed the water, you can also go in.
If you dare to go into the Maas river, there is Kaapsestrand. It's a small city beach on Katendrecht. Don’t go too far in though, or you’ll be swimming with the big ships. The really big ones.
Another great city beach is Nesselande. By metro, this lake is half an hour away from Rotterdam's city centre. Jump off at the Nesselande metro stop. From there, it's a 5 minute walk to the beach.
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