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The island – and it really feels like an island – of Noord-Beveland was won from the sea. It lies between the North Sea, the Oosterschelde National Park and the Veerse Meer. The
Banjaard beach at Kamperland is very popular, overlooking the Oosterschelde flood barrier. Stretching for kilometres, it is spacious enough for summer swimmers, and for kitesurfers and other water sport fans. A way north, the beach at Neeltje Jans is smaller but has a spectacular view of the Delta Works. If you want the company of masses of water sport devotees, you’ll find them in the villages of Kamperland and Kortgene.
In the wet old days, much of Zeeland was made up of small islands. As elsewhere in the Netherlands, Noord Beveland was reclaimed from the sea. Now less at risk, the island has a grim past of impoldering, storm tides, breached dikes and dike collapses.
People first settled Noord-Beveland in the 11th century, when they started to build dikes. They lived on raised areas of mud flats and mounds (‘terpen’). When they joined up the dikes and created protected polders, the first hamlets and villages took shape. They were, though, only to be washed away in the notorious St. Felix floods of 1530 and the dramatic All Souls’ floods of 1532. The sole buildings left standing above the waters were the church towers of Kortgene and Wissenkerke.
Some sixty years later, parts of Noord-Beveland had been impoldered and were settled first by the villages of Colijnsplaat and Kats, and later by other colonies. The early earthworks of those days – inland inlets and dikes planted with woody vegetation– can still be seen today.
Until 1960, Noord-Beveland could only be reached by boot. Nowadays, there are good surface links to the mainland, heading over the Zeeland bridge and the Oosterschelde flood barrier.
Kamperland is the largest settlement on Noord-Beveland. Much loved by water sport enthusiasts for its proximity to the North Sea, the Veerse Meer and the Oosterschelde estuary. The smallest village is Geersdijk where the harbour lies right on the sailing route of the Veerse Meer. Kortgene is the only place on the island to have been granted a town charter, and the only place where a medieval building still stands today: its sturdy church tower somehow survived all the storm tides which destroyed other buildings.