At the tip of Schouwen-Duiveland lies the small village of Westenschouwen. It must have originated from a fishing village called Paalvoetsijde, which sat about half a kilometre from the current beaches of Westenschouwen. But Paalvoetsijde disappeared into the water. Later, a new dike and harbour were built inland. From around 1400, that new harbour was known as Westenschouwen.
Herring fishing used to be the main source of income. Later, trade became increasingly important. But Westenschouwen’s harbour started silting up in the early 16th century. A new harbour was built in the nearby Burghsluis, which marked the end of Westenschouwen’s prosperity. The merchants all headed off toward Zierikzee.
A well-known saga explains Westenschouwen’s decline: ‘The Lady of Westenschouwen’. It tells the story of a fisherman who caught a mermaid and brought her to the village. When the mermaid’s husband begged the fishermen to return his wife, who would die on land, they refused. Incandescent with rage, the merman cursed Westenschouwen:
“Westenschouwen, you have stolen my wife and that will bring you pain,
Westenschouwen will cease to be and the tower alone will remain”.
Coincidentally or not, Westenschouwen fell into decline thereafter. However, the tower remained for years, only to be demolished in 1845. Nowadays, De Plompe Toren (the Squat Tower) of the drowned village Koudekerke is connected to the saga. It stands just beyond the neighbouring village of Burgh-Haamstede and is open to visitors. When you walk inside, you will hear the saga of the Lady of Westenschouwen.
Westenschouwen has beautiful wide beaches along the North Sea. They are popular with families and water sports enthusiasts, but you can also find some peace and quiet here in the summer. From there you can look out at the Oosterschelde barrier, the last part of the Delta Works. This nine-kilometre-long dam is sometimes called the eighth wonder of the world.
Look behind the dunes of Westenschouwen toward the land and you will find Zeeland’s largest forest, the Boswachterij Westerschouwen. Cycle through it, take a stroll, go on horseback or walk with your dog; you are welcome here. Much of the nature reserve is freely accessible. You can also hit the trail with a guide from the Forest Service. The excursion shed is at the main entrance off the Kraaijensteinweg; there you can get more information or depart with your guide.
Events are regularly organised in and around Westenschouwen. Check out our event calendar to discover what is going on where.