If you like lakes, boating, water sports, discovering lesser-known spots and are looking for a fun day trip, weekend getaway, vacation or staycation in the Netherlands, then I have a true hidden gem to share with you!
Some call it the best-kept secret of the Netherlands, as this lake area is still unknown to most, even to the Dutch, although it’s located quite near the capital, in the heart of my homeland.
One of the biggest lake areas of the Netherlands can be found in Aalsmeer, a charming horticulture village in Noord-Holland, internationally renowned for its flower auction.
How to reach Westeinderplassen?
The Westeinderplassen are located far from the crowds of Amsterdam, however just a 30-minute drive and a 1-hour sail away, as the waterways are connected.
This network of lakes covers a whopping 10 km2, with 1 large lake and several smaller ponds connected through canals.
There are about 60 marinas surrounding this intricate water network and even some recreational areas where beaches have been created.
Urban & nature combined: Aalsmeer & the Westeinderplassen
Aalsmeer has a history linked to the water. The Westeinderplassen served as a backdrop for numerous festivals, regattas, and events that celebrate Aalsmeer's maritime heritage. This combination of culture and nature creates a unique blend of experiences for both locals and tourists.
The lakes' proximity to Aalsmeer makes it easy to combine cycling with boating, while enjoying the waterfront cafes, lively village and many community events held here. But there are also other villages to discover around the lakes, like Kudelstaart and Leimuiden, as quaint and charming as they get in the Netherlands.
What makes this lake area so unique?
The Westeinderplassen originated centuries ago, when peat extraction created excavations, which were filled with water due to floods, forming interconnected lakes. This historical link differentiates the Westeinderplassen from other natural attractions.
And while the Netherlands has several nice lakes to offer, the Westeinderplassen stand out for their island diversity, recreational versatility, tranquil atmosphere and ecological importance, with an excellent water quality that is actively monitored.
The municipality of Aalsmeer strives to create a balance between water enjoyment and ecological responsibility on the Westeinderplassen, by contributing to the protection of this beautiful natural environment, which is unique.
Westeinderplassen; a habitat for biodiversity
The ecological significance of Westeinderplassen is evident in its various plant- and animal species. The wetlands, reed beds, and islands create a hotspot for birdwatching and nature observation.
Many water birds can be found here, such as herons, grebes, cormorants and various species of ducks. The lake’s clear waters and canals make a rich ecosystem for a variety of fish, like the rare European catfish, eel, pike, bream and roach, unique within an urban landscape and popular among fishermen.
Private island paradises
A defining feature of Westeinderplassen is its collection of over 50 islands, each with its own story. Some islands still display historical buildings, providing a glimpse into the past, as summer houses used to be built on the islands.
Nowadays that is prohibited and the islands can only be used for recreation. Most islands remain untouched, serving as natural reserves or for agriculture.
Some are still for sale, starting from €10K😊 Besides the private islands, there are a 4 public recreational islands accessible by boat:
The akkers of Ravenstein (at Kleine Brug)
Also recreational beaches can be found at Vrouwentroost and near the water tower. Some islands are even rented out for a day, like this piece of paradise:
Vissers Vreugd recreational island
This hidden gem is perfect for special events, a family gathering or party with friends. Or just a nice BBQ day on your own private island. You can even hire a private chef to come over and complete the experience.
The rather large recreational island is actually a hobby that got out of hand and was eventually turned into one of the most beautiful spots on the Westeinderplassen.
Get an impression through this gallery:
When the owners bought the island in 1999 it looked a bit like a garbage dump, but with lots of hard work and passion, they turned it into the dream island it currently is. Offering lots of cozy seating areas, a sauna, hot tub, big kitchen, and all the facilities you might need, with their own chickens roaming freely on the island too.
The swimming water around the island is of good quality and perfect for water sports. You can rent the island from early May until mid-September, from Wednesday afternoon through Sunday, and stay there until the sun goes down.
Find all details on Website Vissers Vreugd.
Westeinderplassen activities - water sports haven of the Netherlands
These lakes are perfect for a big variety of recreational activities. Boating, sailing, fishing, and several water sports are all possible on the waters of the Westeinderplassen, where a nice breeze is always present.
The many rental shops around the lake offer plenty of choices in activities. And the relatively calm waters provide the perfect circumstances for both beginners as more experienced water sports enthusiasts:
You can do a boat tour with a captain through Westeinder Rondvaart.
If you’re an experienced sailor, you can rent your own sailboat at the Aalsmeer Sailing School.
Or rent a private electric sloop, accommodating up to 10 people, which you can easily steer on your own, without a license. We rented ours at: Westeinder Rondvaart-private sloop.
I personally prefer the sustainable options: E-boating and Stand Up Paddle boarding, as they are so relaxing and easy to do. If you go SUP-ing for the first time, get a good instruction to ensure you’re doing it right and optimize your experience, which will make it active, yet soothing at the same time.
I found SUP-ing the perfect activity to fully experience the beautiful nature of the Westeinderplassen and can highly recommend booking a sunset SUP session with Supventure. Check all options and book directly on the Supventure website.
In addition to the above, there are several sustainable forms of water sports offered, like water biking, windsurfing, e-foiling and canoeing. With these activities you do not damage the natural environment and can enjoy the surroundings to the fullest. You can rent the right equipment at local providers, such as Windsurfing Club Aalsmeer, Kempers Watersport, Westeinderwaterexperience and Recreation Park Aalsmeer.
And you can also go swimming at the Kudelstaart Swimming Jetty or Surf Island. Or go bird spotting and relaxing on 1 of the 4 recreational islands.
Where to stay overnight?
Even though you can buy your own island here, you are unfortunately not allowed to stay on it overnight. Therefore if you truly want to experience a holiday or (weekend) getaway on the Westeinderplassen, it’s easier to book a nice accommodation by the water, like this: Luxury boathouse right on the lake: Quiet waterloft - Westeinderplassen Or with a slightly lower budget you can also rent a tent or hut on this camping by the water, for a more authentic option: Trekkershut - Camping Recreatiepark Aalsmeer
But of course there are many more hotels and other unique accommodations to find in and around Aalsmeer via this link: Westeinderplassen - Noord-Holland
In just one day I experienced that the Westeinderplassen in Aalsmeer really is one of the best-kept secrets of the Netherlands. The combination of history in peat extraction, nature, and culture, make the Westeinderplassen unique in the Netherlands.
Find more information about this lovely area, with all activities you can do here on: Water Sports - Visit Aalsmeer. And if you’re looking for even more nice spots and inspiration for a visit to my homeland, check this Netherlands page.
With its clear swimming waters, big offering of recreational activities, tranquil vibe and beautiful shores due to its distinct biodiversity, this unique lake area forms a true water Walhalla.
The Westeinderplassen in Aalsmeer - the Netherlands, offer water sports perfect for being active, as well as relaxing by the water on those sunny days, something you really should experience yourself.