paddle boarding in the netherlands
Updated: Oct 29, 2020
In August one of our Brand Ambassadors Laura and I went paddle boarding in the Netherlands: Les les pays-bas!
Unlike Canada, The Netherlands does not have huge lakes and rivers. So where to paddle board you might ask? Through cities and towns! In The Netherlands you can discover endless small waterways called 'grachten' (canals). Almost every town is connected by water and one village, Giethoorn, is called Venice of the Netherlands as it only has waterways and no roads.
The area where we took our Silver Sharks out is Friesland. It's the Northern province of the Netherlands and often referred to as the Water Province. In the harsh winter of 1997 the 'Elfstedentocht' (11-city tour) took place. A two-hundred kilometer ice-skating competition through 11 cities via the canals. Nowadays people take on this challenge by paddle board in the summer.
On our Dutch paddle board trip we discovered 2 of the 11 cities of the Elfstedentocht. Our paddle adventure started in Sneek (It's pronounced Snake!). We inflated our Silver Shark paddle boards and put them in a cozy little canal. All along beautiful hanging willows were draped over the water and we paddled underneath them. Around the corner was a fun challenge: a super low bridge. Every town and city in the Netherlands has hundreds of them.
By pushing ourselves ahead via the ceiling, we made it to the other side!
We then continued our paddle board adventure in downtown Sneek. This small city is known for a beautiful caste-like bridge called the Waterpoort (Watergate). It's the centre of the city and connects all the waterways.. like an intersection!
We then continued our way to the second city called IJlst. We were surrounded by small boats full of Dutch families enjoying the summer day on the canals. When we entered the larger canal we saw green farmlands, cows and houses built right on the waterway with neat lawns. Right before entering IJlst we were surprised by the most Dutch picture: a large wood mill! The mill is called De Rat and is still a working mill to this day. The wind powers the machines inside, cutting wood for export and creating furniture.
We then entered the picturesque city of IJlst. The tiny canals here were only about 3 ft. wide, the sides overgrown with the most colourful flowers. Old homes dated 1705 are built on the sides of the canals with tiny front yards covered in even more flowers and picnic tables. Everyone seeing us on our Silver Shark paddle boards was waving and smiling. IJlst is a happy little city.
If you are ever in the Netherlands, we highly recommend visiting the province of Friesland with you paddle board. There are endless cozy waterways with waterfront bars, restaurants and even campings or Bed & Breakfasts. Maybe you even end up paddling the 11 City Tour!