by Karen T. Slingenberg
First published in ACCESS Spring 2013 e-zine
The Netherlands is famed for its abundance of water. Its history, economy and landscape have always been linked with it. The Dutch are not only adept at water management, they also know how to enjoy themselves on the water in their spare time.
But where the Dutch landscape fails to provide a lot of variation, there are plenty of man-made water features to be found that introduce an element of speed and fun. Tropical swimming pools, water-slides, aqua parks and wild-water courses will tempt goldfish as well as the sharks amongst you.
If you like being propelled down crazy rivers and do not fear tropical fish nibbling at your toes then ‘Aqua Mundo’ Centre Parcs in Zandvoort is for you. The swimming pool is an oasis of water pleasure. For serious swimmers there is the option of swimming laps in the 25m long pool and for some real fun there is the artificial wave machine that transforms calm waters into turbulent tides. There is a crazy river ride, which involves speeding along on giant tires and tiny tots can indulge in the safe ‘Kinder-Doe-Bad’. There are even slides built to accommodate the launch of a whole family at once. Another worthwhile feature is the Aqua Cinema; the chance to watch a favourite flick, comfortably floating on rubber tires. Grab your snorkel and have a leisurely swim amongst the coral and tropical fish in the ‘Sea Life pool’.
Slides, tubes, funnels and more
The fearless water adventurer can plummet down the largest covered water slides in the Benelux at the Tikkibad in Duinrell, Wassenaar. At first glance the exterior tubes resemble a giant octopus sporting eleven tentacle-slides to test your nerve. For die-hard daredevils and reckless rogues ‘The Cyclone’ ride will be alluring. After hurtling down at break-neck speed, your fall is not broken by water but a giant funnel that spins its victim around to dizzying levels and then plunges through the opening into the water below. Have your cardiologist’s number at the ready!
Up close with sea creatures
If swimming with sea-lions is on your bucket list then the Delta Park Neeltje Jans will make your dreams come true. It is situated in Zeeland at the Oosterschelde (the North Sea estuary) and is part of the largest National Park in the Netherlands. There is no shortage of animal life to be discovered as this is the home to the largest saltwater aquarium in Zeeland. Shrimps, lobsters, colourful sea anemones and even sharks are residents here. Opt to take a boat trip and spot lazy seals lounging on local sand banks – be sure to bring your binoculars. Fun and water seems to have been invented here as children can escape to the water playground where you can build your own waterfall, operate sluices and walk over shifting musical step stones. Try your hand at pumping water using the treadmill or modeling a riverbed.
Passing the time in, at, on and under the water in the Netherlands is more than possible with its wide-ranging mix of locations and activities on offer to relax, educate, entertain and thrill the pleasure seeker, no matter what age. There is something for everyone to get those flippers into.
Plunge in with scuba-diving
Areas to dive in the Netherlands are the North Sea, the brackish waters of Zeeland and any clear, still water lake that is deep enough.
There are diving centres in most cities where you can rent equipment, take a course and join in planned activities. Note that an Open Water Diver certificate is needed before you can dive without supervision.
For more information: www.padi.com