Like many others, the village of Oostkapelle is named after the place of worship which first stood here: the chapel on the east side of the cape of Walcheren. Our Oôskappel has become one of the largest villages on the island, drawing celebrants of another sort: of the sun, broad and beautiful beaches, dunes, natural areas and a pretty village centre.
The village grew as a thread in the history of the abbeys of Rijnsburg and Middelburg, the two major landowners. In the Middle Ages, it was principally a spiritual centre: the Sint Willibrord was one of the five major churches on Walcheren.
After long agricultural periods, stately homes and country estates established themselves, in the 17th century, in part as merchants’ havens from thriving Middelburg. In the first half of the 20th century, the village started to spread. In the 1950s post-war years, as the island’s recreational appeal grew, it became a beach resort like nearby Domburg and Zoutelande.
It’s a great place for a real family beach holiday. All along its well-kept beaches, you’ll find wooden boardwalks – and loads of swings, slides and the like for the kids. Supervision and safety too: from May to September, the lifeguards are on duty, with a First Aid post.
Two nature reserves, De Manteling and Oranjezon, lie at its fringes. Developed as a buffer against strong sea winds, the Manteling van Walcheren is an intriguing mix of country houses, woods, dunes, tempting lanes and winding paths. Watch your direction, it’s big.
Half the size of Manteling, at some 400 hectares, the Oranjezon (entrance = 1 euro) is mainly composed of dunes – with their surprising elevations and bushes, grasses and deciduous and pine forests. Until 1995, it was a water catchment area for nearby Middelburg. As elsewhere on the Dutch coast, it used natural slow-sand water filtration through dune ponds, prior to final treatment as potable.
A few steps and nine centuries outside the village stands the 12th century Westhove castle. Real stuff – outer bailey, main keep, proper-size moats, walls, bridges, gates and towers -- once stood here, and will return, on demand, but only in your mind. Beside a few stumps of towers and walls, the original has been rebuilt beyond recognition. A youth hostel keeps it alive today.
Next door, almost inhabiting Westhove, is the museum Terra Maris, land van de zee.
It clearly explains the nature and landscape of Zeeland. Ask about that slow-sand filtration! Its garden of 2.5 hectares is a fine 101 introductory course on our biodiversity.
Throughout the year, Oostkapelle has a raft of events to enjoy. The latest list is in the Events Calendar.