Noorderstrand Dune Area and Beach (Den Haag, NETHERLANDS)
The Noorderstrand area near Wassenaar (just north of Den Haag) is a scenic dune area between the heavily populated beaches of Den Haag (Scheveningen) and Katwijk. The beaches of Katwijk and Den Haag tend to be quite busy with tourists during the warmer seasons of the year, and so it can be nice to find an area that is away from the loud groups of people... plus, the other beaches are also less beach, and more kiosks and restaurants... and casinos and quite built up to cater for the tourist crowd.
It can be quite difficult to get to Noorderstrand from Den Haag if you have a car. The area is closed off to road traffic... you can drive to a car park close by, but you will have to walk quite a distance. Really not that much fun with little kids!
The best and easiest way to get to the beach area is via bike. There is ample bike parking, and the bike paths are easily accessible. This has the added benefit of dissuading tourists as it means that they would need access to bikes!
One little strange thing about going to the beach in The Netherlands that I've started to get used to.... is the fact that you need to walk UPHILL to get to the beach. Well, generally uphill to the end of the dune protection area, and then down to the water... but the concept of walking uphill to the water is still a weird and slightly disconcerting notion!
So, the bike parking area is still about several hundred metres away from the actual beach. The dune area is protected for the wildlife and plants.... and also as it forms a natural defence against the water.
I've never really enjoyed the beach habitat... I find the sea air to be uncomfortably salty and the landscape to be not that inspiring. I'm much more of a forest sort of person.
However, my kids (and my wife) love the beach... and over many trips through the dunes to the beach, I've learnt to look closer and find interesting things in the low lying plants and the animals that you can find there... most interesting for me are the patterns that you find in the sand dunes that have been created by the movements of the wind.
So, after a little walk and a little bit of grumbling from the kids... we start to reach the end of the walk.
From the top of the dune formation, looking towards the South (towards Den Haag), you can see the built up "beach" area of Scheveningen... that is the sort of beach that has a concreted boulevard, with lots of shops and restaurants and a casino. Horrible place... and thankfully, quite far away!
A long set of stairs brings us down to the beach, where there is a single little kiosk for food and drinks. The water and sand aren't really comparable to the Australian versions of beaches... but there isn't anything down there that is trying to kill you... which some people consider to be a definite plus!
One little thing to be aware of in The Netherlands is the fact that the beaches can be not so much fun when the weather is windy. The wind in this country can be quite strong, and with the sand being blown around... it just isn't much fun, and the waves that are kicked up aren't that impressive to want to endure a sand-blasting of the eyes!
One other thing to note.... which took me a very very long time to figure out. Is the fact that to the right of the stairs is the NUDE portion of the beach... Don't wander on that side unless you are going to be going in your birthday suit... like I said, I'm quite observant to some things... and completely and utterly oblivious to other things!... much to the complete bewilderment and sometimes embarrassment of my wife!