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Shrimp Fishing on Horseback in Oostduinkerke

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For centuries, the people of Oostduinkerke have been practicing the extraordinary and age-old craft of catching shrimp on horseback. This traditional fishing method is deeply connected to the natural world, relying heavily on the elements and the tides.

Here is all you need to know see this event and to make a great weekend with the family: best things to do and where to stay.

In a Nutshell

  • Best hotels
    • Luxury: Plopsa Hotel has themed rooms, and it also offers parking, breakfast, dinner, and tickets for amusement park Plopsaland and indoor water park Plopsaqua, which are included in the price.
    • Midrange: Sunparks cottages offer an indoor playground, an indoor water park, and a wellness area with a sauna and pools.
    • Budget: Holiday Suites Nieuwpoort offers an indoor pool, a sauna and hammam, an outdoor playground for kids, and comfortable apartments that come equipped with all the necessary amenities.

Best Time to See Shrimp Fishing

Shrimp fishing is open to the public during April, May, September, October, and November. In July and August, they are fishing almost every other day. You can see the schedule on the official page here.

Try to go to an event with cooking of the shrimps afterwards as opposed to only watching shrimp fishing. Cooking is done on specific dates and it is indicated on the schedule with an asterisk.

The absolutely best time to go is the last weekend of June when the Shrimp Festival takes place. Held during the final weekend of June, the Shrimp Festival is a celebration of the sea and all things shrimp-related, including the traditional practice of horseback shrimp fishing. The event is centered around these hardworking fishermen, and there are plenty of fun activities planned for attendees.

The program of the Shrimp Festival is available in April here

Don’t miss out on the Shrimp Parade on Sunday afternoon, where the charming ‘Miss Shrimp’ and her attendants will make their way through the streets of Oostduinkerke.

How Long to Stay in Oostduinkerke

Oostduinkerke is a charming coastal town in Belgium that makes for a perfect day trip from Brussels or other cities in the vicinity. However, if you want to make the most of your visit, consider staying for the weekend. There are plenty of activities for kids in the area that go beyond shrimp fishing, which is a popular attraction in Oostduinkerke.

For instance, you can take your little ones to an outdoor heated pool located by the beach. The pool is perfect for a refreshing dip, especially on hot summer days. Additionally, your kids can have a blast riding electric mini cars or playing in the playgrounds nearby.

If you’re looking to explore beyond Oostduinkerke, there are plenty of nearby coastal towns worth visiting. De Panne, for example, is home to the amusement park Plopsaland and the indoor water park Plopsaqua. Your kids will love the thrilling rides and attractions that these parks offer.

Another nearby town worth exploring is Nieuwpoort, just a short ferry ride away. Here, you can take a stroll around the natural reserve and appreciate the stunning scenery. Overall, Oostduinkerke and its neighboring towns offer an array of activities that are sure to keep your family entertained and engaged throughout your stay.

How to Get to Oostduinkerke

Oostduinkerke, a coastal city in the north-west of Belgium, is a popular tourist destination that offers a range of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re planning a day trip or a longer stay, getting to Oostduinkerke is easy and convenient. There are two main ways to reach Oostduinkerke – by car or public transport.

By Car

If you’re traveling by car, the journey from Brussels to Oostduinkerke takes around 1.5 hours, depending on traffic. The quickest route is via the E40 motorway, which takes you towards Oostende and you turn before reaching it. You’ll pass through several towns and cities along the way, including Ghent and Bruges, both of which are worth a visit if you have time.

By Public Transport

Alternatively, if you prefer to travel by public transport, there are regular trains from Brussels to Oostende, which take around 1.5 hours. Once you arrive in Ostende, you can take either bus 68 or the coastal tram to reach Oostduinkerke.

The coastal tram is the longest tramline in the world, stretching over 67 km along the Belgian coast.

The coastal tram offers a scenic journey that allows you to take in the stunning views of the coastline, passing through several charming seaside towns and villages along the way. Bus 68, on the other hand, takes a more direct route and is a quicker option. Both options are reasonably priced and offer convenient connections to Oostende.

In conclusion, whether you choose to travel by car or public transport, getting to Oostende is easy and straightforward. Each option offers its own unique advantages, and the choice ultimately depends on your preferences and travel requirements. Regardless of how you choose to get there, Oostende is definitely worth a visit, and you’re sure to have a fantastic time exploring all that this vibrant and charming city has to offer.

Where to Stay in Oostduinkerke and around


If you’re planning a family vacation in Oostduinkerke, Belgium, and wondering where to stay with your little ones, then you’re in luck. Oostduinkerke is a beautiful coastal town that offers a range of family-friendly accommodations that are sure to make your stay a memorable one. Among the top picks are the Sunparks cottages, Domein Westhoek near Nieuwpoort, Holiday Suites Nieuwpoort, and Plopsa Hotel.

€€€€ Plopsa Hotel is a themed hotel that offers a unique experience for families. The hotel’s themed rooms are perfect for kids who want to experience something different. The hotel also offers parking, breakfast, dinner, and tickets for amusement park Plopsaland and Plopsaqua, which are included in the price.

See photos and availability here

€€€ Domein Westhoek near Nieuwpoort is a great choice, if you’re looking for a hotel with an indoor pool. The hotel offers a range of family-friendly rooms and apartments that come with all the necessary amenities. The hotel also offers an indoor pool, which is perfect for days when the weather isn’t great.

See photos and availability here

€€ Sunparks cottages are perfect for families who want to enjoy a comfortable and fun-filled stay. They offer a range of amenities, including an indoor playground, an indoor water park, and a wellness area with a sauna and pools. The cottages are spacious and come equipped with all the necessary amenities to ensure that you and your kids have a comfortable stay.

See photos and availability here

Holiday Suites Nieuwpoort is another excellent option for families. The hotel offers an indoor pool, a sauna and hammam, an outdoor playground for kids, and comfortable apartments that come equipped with all the necessary amenities.

See photos and availability here


This two-bedroom apartment with access to indoor pool is perfect for those that prefer staying in an apartment. It is centrally located a few minutes away from the center of the beach of Oostduinkerke.

See photos and availlability here

With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect accommodation for your family in Oostduinkerke.

Shrimp Fishing in Oostduinkerke

Observing the skilled men and women of this coastal town galloping on their strong horses through the waves is truly a breathtaking spectacle that is certainly worth experiencing firsthand.

This traditional fishing method involves the use of specially trained horses to catch shrimp in the shallow waters off the coast. The horsemen and women fish during April, May, September, October, and November. In July and August they are fishing almost every other day. The horses are equipped with a special net that is dragged behind them, scooping up the shrimp as they ride through the water.

The tradition of shrimp fishing on horseback has been passed down from generation to generation in Oostduinkerke and is an integral part of the local culture. It is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people who live and work in this region.

Shrimp fishing on horseback is a tradition for over 500 years that you can see only in Oostduinkerke nowadays! This tradition used to be widespread along the North Sea.

UNESCO Recognition

In recognition of its cultural significance, ‘Shrimp fishing on horseback in Oostduinkerke’ was officially added by UNESCO on Wednesday 4 December 2013 to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This prestigious designation is a testament to the unique and enduring cultural traditions of the region, and to the hard work and dedication of the horsemen and women who continue to keep this ancient craft alive.

Shrimp Fishing: How It Is Done

At low tide, you can observe the skilled fishermen at work, as they ride their horses into the water while wearing bright yellow slickers, tall rubber boots, and sou’westers. These draft horses, including the powerful Brabant draft horse, are used to drag the large nets behind them.

During the task, the fishermen and their horses will occasionally come back to the shore to unload their nets and put their catch in the baskets that are hung from each side of the horses. Along the beach, cooking demonstrations are regularly held where you can witness the preparation of the freshly caught shrimp. These types of shrimps are considered to be a true delicacy when cooked due to their exceptional freshness.

The skilled fishermen spend an hour fishing and then take a break on the shore to give their trusty horse a rest. During this time, they carefully sort through their catch, throwing back any unwanted crabs or small fish. They also collect the delicious shrimp they’ve caught and store them in baskets on either side of the horse’s back. It’s all part of their well-honed routine, and they take pride in their ability to work efficiently and sustainably.

How to Become a Shrimp Fisherman

If you want to become a shrimp fisherman on horseback, you need to complete a theoretical course at Oostduinkerke’s National Fisheries Museum, Navigo, which is conducted by the ‘Oostduinkerkse paardenvissers association’. In addition to that, you are required to complete two years of practical training and pass a final exam. It’s a thrilling and exciting experience to become a part of this unique fishing community.

Keep in mind that due to the low tide, you will have to walk a bit further than usual on the beach to reach the fishing point. See the photo below, how far our son had to walk from the buildings!

Practical Tips

  • You can see the schedule on the official page here. Try to go to an event with cooking of the shrimps afterwards as opposed to only fishing them.
  • Make sure to wear appropriate shoes (wellies or flipflops that you will take off)
  • Short pants are better, as you might get wet
  • This is not a stroller friendly, wheelchair friendly activity. It might be if you can manage on sand, but due to the low tide you might need to also walk over sand with water at some parts. We highly recommend a baby carrier.

Where to Park

There is an outdoor parking near the beach
IJslandplein 10-15, 8670 Koksijde
Exact spot here

National Fisheries Museum and Estaminet

There is also the National Fisheries Museum (about 5 minutes from the beach by car)
NAVIGO – National Fisheries Museum
Pastoor Schmitzstraat 5, 8670 Koksijde

Estaminet is the restaurant with a terrasse next to the museum, where you can enjoy fresh sea food (about 5 minutes by car and not on the beach)
Estaminet De Peerdevisscher
Pastoor Schmitzstraat 4, 8670 Koksijde

Best Things to Do in Oostduinkerke besides Watching Shrimp Fishing

You can spend the day in Oostduinkerke; playground on the beach, good ice cream, a place to rent go-carts and a heated outdoor pool!


In conclusion, shrimp fishing on horseback in Oostduinkerke is a fascinating and awe-inspiring tradition that is closely linked to nature and the elements. It is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people who live and work in this region, and a unique example of the enduring cultural traditions that continue to thrive in our modern world.

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