Suchagirl tells us about ‘her’ Coast
Oostduinkerke: a weekend at the Belgian Coast
And here I am again with a “holiday” category story! Fair enough, the destination may sound a little less exotic but, believe you me, you won’t be disappointed. What’s more, it only takes an hour and a half to get to from the centre of Belgium! Having visited most of the large resorts on our Belgian Coast (Knokke, Blankenberge and Ostend), I can tell you that the town of Oostduinkerke (Koksijde) is completely different. No question about it, this part of the coast has the most beautiful dunes and the finest beaches of all.
A quick stop at Australian Homemade Ice Cream (1) – In the Oostduinkerke dunes (2)
Oostduinkerke is located in a part of the coast that doesn’t attract tourists in their droves - and any tourists that do come here respect nature: the dunes and beaches are spotless and peaceful. Here, you can find yourself a spot and feel that you have the sea all to yourself. I had the opportunity to spend the weekend of 22 and 23 June here, in collaboration with Westtoer, the Belgian Coast’s Tourist Office. So here are the places I had the pleasure of visiting, including some great ideas!
Getting to Oostduinkerke
The first thing you need to know is that getting to Oostduinkerke from the centre of Belgium is unfortunately a bit complicated if you don’t have a car. The town doesn’t have a railway station but is served by the coastal tram. From the Brussels Midi railway station it will take you 2 hours and 40 minutes to get there as you’ll need to take the train to Ostend (1 hour and 20 minutes) and then the coastal tram (51 minutes, 37 stops). So for convenience sake we decided to take the car to get to that side of the Belgian Coast.
Saturday, day 1
Once we got there, we dropped off our bags at the hotel that had been booked for us: Hof Ter Duinen (a 4-minute walk from the beach and a 10-minute walk to the centre of Koksijde). Keen to make a good impression, I addressed the receptionist in Dutch... but he was perfectly bilingual and answered me in French ha! ha! Oops...! We got a great welcome.
Our bags taken care of, we walked to the centre to hire bikes for the day. We went for a tandem, just to see what riding one of those was like! It took a bit of getting used to at the start but after a few minutes we managed to get the hang of it.
Hotel: standard double room (about € 154 a night, breakfast included) at Hotel Hof Ter Duinen.
Bike hire: € 18 for a tandem for the afternoon (13:00 – 18:00) at O Velo.
TripAdvisor is your friend
Early afternoon, we went looking for something to eat. Initially, we were a bit blinded by the choice of restaurants on the promenade but then we came across “Tearoom Rubens”. After we were shown to our table, I became somewhat hesitant when I saw what they were charging for water (€ 11 for 1 litre)… and decided to check out TripAdvisor to see whether the food was worth the prices. My eye fell on a message telling me that the owner had tried to “interfere with the popularity index for this property”. That’s all I needed to go and take a look elsewhere ha! ha! To cut a long story short, we checked out the TripAdvisor reviews again and went to “Venise”, a restaurant situated in a street that runs perpendicular to the promenade. As we got there late (14:00), we were offered the short menu (available from 14:00 to 18:00). But the chef did make an exception for us and Olivier was able to order the mussels on the full menu! As I wasn’t overly hungry I ordered two cheese croquettes.
The street fair in the centre of Koksijde made for a party atmosphere. Everyone was out, the streets were bustling and there was music. We decided to soak up the ambiance over an ice cream on the sun-drenched square. After we returned our tandem to the bike shop we went to buy a few bits for our aperitif in the dunes (mind, once the sun goes down it gets cold really quickly :D).Ayant tous les deux une grosse envie de nourriture asiatique ce soir là, nous avons été scruter à nouveau Trip Advisor. Nous sommes allés au BUA Thaï, situé à Nieuwpoort. Je n’ai jamais mangé un pad thaï aussi bon, c’était vraiment excellent !
As the two of us were dying for some Asian food that night, we had another look on TripAdvisor. We went to BUA Thai, in Nieuwpoort. My pad thai was the nicest one I ever had, absolutely delicious!
Sunday, day 2 (and 30°!)
After a proper lie-in we headed for 8chef, a restaurant where Westtoer had booked us a table for lunch. My very first visit to a gastronomic restaurant! They offer a 2, 3 or 4-course menu and I decided to order the catch of the day and truffle ravioli (2). Olivier chose the same as I did but also treated himself to a rump steak (3). I really loved it, it was a wonderful experience! What’s more, as gastronomic restaurants go, the prices were still affordable: € 30 for the 2-course menu (with 3 appetisers). The restaurant is run by a charming couple who really look after their patrons!
After lunch, we headed for the beach, to Surfclub Windekind, where Westtoer had booked us a power kiting lesson. The place was quite busy. We were given a short explanation of how to use this type of kite before we were left off on our own. Even the weather was on our side, it was glorious!
After 30-40 minutes’ activity, we went to check out the open-air swimming pool of Oostduinkerke which is ideally situated on the beach. You couldn’t wish for anything nicer during a heatwave because the sea is still really cold that time of the year ha! ha!
Here’s hoping that I have planted the seed for a weekend away in that part of the world in your mind!