Water, water, everywhere – all around the island of Goeree-Overflakkee are the waters of the North Sea, the Grevelingenmeer lake, the Krammer-Volkerak and the Haringvliet. Nearby Brouwersdam and Grevelingendam are hotspots for all kinds of fun, including (kite)surfing, swimming, diving, fishing, sailing, blokarting and power kiting. The expanses of dunes and sandy beaches, of endless polders and nature reserves provide bikers and walkers with lots to see and do. Prefer a slower pace? Sit enjoying the sun on a café terrace, or indulge in some shopping an D’n Diek (along the dike) in Middelharnis.
On the border between Zeeland and Zuid-Holland is Goeree-Overflakkee. Not officially part of Zeeland, it does have an utterly ‘Zeeuws’ vibe. Ages ago, it was made up of many tiny islands, contours of which can still be seen in the various polders. Slowly, people reclaimed land from the sea by so-called impoldering (after the word ‘polder’, as the new land is named). The sea would prove to be worthy opponent, frequently reclaiming land through floods. Farming was a long-time mainstay on the island, though the watery surroundings also invited fishing and shipping trades.
During the Second World War, the island was at the head of Atlantikwall, with the greatest part of Overflakkee being flooded in 1944 during the ‘inundation’. The polders instantly became desolate stretches of salty water, and later the 1953 Flood would sabotage plans for the island to have a fixed connection to the mainland. All the villages were flooded then, with Oude Tonge hit hardest: 304 souls perished.
Melissant and Dirksland were the only villages that escaped this fate. After the Flood, the Delta Works incorporated Goeree-Overflakkee, resulting in several connections to the mainland.
Ouddorp is the second largest island village, known by all as a family-friendly seaside resort with vast, clean beaches and nature reserves. Goedereede is at the head of Goeree island and had its heyday in medieval times, when it was a trade centre with town ramparts. The name Goedereede means ‘safe haven’ or ‘safe anchor’. On the opposite side of the island is Ooltgensplaat, within an easy walk of Hellegatsplaten nature reserve. Village and reserve are both flanked by the Volkerak and Haringvliet waters.