Oostduinkerke, Beach of the horse fisherman
Oostduinkerke, situated on the Belgian coast, offers a unique charm and richness that continually entices its visitors. It's the only place in the world where shrimp fishers on horseback keep a centuries-old tradition alive, a spectacular spectacle that is part of UNESCO's World Heritage. However, Oostduinkerke offers much more than just this remarkable tradition. It's an oasis of tranquillity, nature, culture, and gastronomy, a place where every visitor finds something to their liking.
Beaches and Dunes
Oostduinkerke is blessed with a wide and peaceful sandy beach, extending over more than 2 kilometres. It's the perfect place for long walks, sunbathing, swimming or building sandcastles. Behind the beach lie extensive dune areas, including the De Doornpanne Nature Reserve. This 235-hectare reserve, with its unique fauna and flora, is a paradise for nature lovers and walkers.
Culture and Heritage
Oostduinkerke also has a lot to offer culturally. The NAVIGO National Fisheries Museum takes visitors on a fascinating journey through the history of Flemish sea and coastal fishing. The museum also houses a lively shrimp aquarium and regularly organises temporary exhibitions.
The Unique Tradition of Horseback Shrimp Fishing
The most iconic image of Oostduinkerke is undoubtedly that of the horseback shrimp fishers. These fishers, clad in yellow oilskins and perched on impressive Brabant draught horses, pull their nets through the surf in a tradition that has been handed down since the 16th century. This fascinating tradition, unique in the world, was recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2013.
As a fishing village, Oostduinkerke takes pride in its seafood, particularly shrimp. The freshly caught shrimp are cooked on-site and peeled in a traditional way, resulting in an unmatched taste. Consequently, local gastronomy is rich in delicious dishes, from classic shrimp croquettes to refined gourmet creations.
Activities and Events
Oostduinkerke offers a wide range of activities, from water sports such as sailing and surfing to golfing on the nearby Koksijde golf course. The town also organises several events throughout the year, including the annual Shrimp Festival in June, which culminates in a folkloric parade and the crowning of the Shrimp Queen.
In short, Oostduinkerke is a fascinating destination that offers a unique mix of tradition, nature, culture, and gastronomy. Whether you're seeking relaxation, adventure, discovery, or culinary indulgence, Oostduinkerke won't disappoint.