Lauwersmeer area

On the border between Groningen and Friesland along the Waddenzee shore lies the Lauwersmeer. The nature reserve accommodates unique plant species and has been a National Park since 2003. Round the water of the lake the Lauwersmeer with its bicycle and aquatic sports facilities has everything to offer to people looking for recreation.

Nature and landscape

Until the year 1969 the Lauwersmeer had an open connection with the sea. The Lauwerszee had changing tides and like the Waddenzee sandbaks that were uncovered by ebb. In 1969 a dike was completed that separated the Lauwerzee from the open seawater. Cause for this empoldering was the delta project, which consisted of the upgrading of the entire Dutch see shore protection. Plans for raising the dikes along the Lauwerszee came across protests from the residents in the area, causing the decision to turn the Lauwerszee bay into an artificial lake by building a dam.

Through the construction of the dike the Lauwersmeer territory has undergone a major transformation over a short period. The banks of the lake were transformed partly into agricultural land. Trees were planted especially near the east and of the lake. The lake serves also as a water recovery in times of large rainfall. Sluice locks in the dam keep the water level as equal as possible.

The territory received its name from the river Lauwers, that starts near Surhuisterveen and flows along the border between the provinces of Fryslân and Groningen to terminate into the Lauwersmeer. Throughout history the stream territory of the Lauwers has been adapted by man. The water of the Lauwers currently ends in the Lauwersmeer at Zoutkamp.

Culture and settlements

Since the first people lived in the Lauwersmeer area around 500 BC, the battle with the sea has always been a major issue. The early inhabitants lived on raisings in the landscape, terpen (Friesland) and wierden (Groningen), to keep their feet dry during times of flood. While towns grew bigger the raised grounds became scarce. By 1000 AD the construction of the first protectional dikes started.

Thanks to the creation of polders and the claiming of new land the landscape round the Lauwersmeer is drawn by agricultural grass meadows and field country. Next to the agricultural activities itself projects of land reclaiming and dike construction in the area have been a major source for employment in the area.

Fishery is also an important source of income. Zoutkamp has been an important base for shrimp fisheries, haddock fisheries and herring fisheries throughout the centuries. After the construction of the Lauwersmeer dam, Zoutkamp no longer had a direct connection to the open sea and most of the fishermen moved to Lauwersoog.

Immediately at the lake we find numerous places where water recreation plays a major economic role nowadays, like Oostmahorn and Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen. On summer days the Lauwersmeer is pleasantly crowded with recreational boats, sailing boats, round trip ships and surfers. At the south side of Lauwersoog we find a recreational park and a marina. Near Oostmahorn a leisure park is developed under the name Esonstad in the shape of a stronghold.

More information

For tourist information, the Lauwersmeer area is part of the VVV Lauwersland organization, with offices in Dokkum, Kollum, Winsum and Zoutkamp.

The National Park Lauwersmeer does not have a visitors centre yet. A small-scale information center should open shortly at the restaurant Het Booze Wijf at the Strandweg in Lauwersoog.

Holiday and recreation in the Lauwersmeer area

Kaart van NederlandNoord-HollandZuid-HollandZeelandFrieslandNoord-BrabantFlevolandGroningenDrentheUtrechtOverijsselLimburgGelderland

Recreation in the Lauwersmeer area

Museums »
Molenmuseum, De Eendracht 1889Anjum
Boat trips »
Rondvaart bedrijf LauwersmeerEngwierum