Many Belgians, as well as foreign tourists, visit Ostend every year. The main attraction of Ostend, especially in the summer months, is obviously the beach. You can walk from the cozy shopping streets in the city center to the wide family beach via the spacious boulevard. The family-friendly beach may be crowded on hot summer days, but there is always plenty of room for a walk or sunbathing. In addition, there are plenty of facilities nearby, the sand is kept clean and many lifeguards are present during the summer months. During the summer numerous events take place on and around the beach.
The beach of Ostend is about 7 kilometers long and 80 meters wide. It is located northeast of Middelkerke and southwest of Bredene. The beaches are located on the northwest, on the North Sea. From the Oosteroever in the northeast, to the Schapenweide nature reserve in the southwest. The beach is separated from the charming town by a 4-kilometre-long promenade.
The North Sea coast of Ostend can be divided into five different beaches: Oosterstrand, Klein Strand, Groot Strand, Sportstrand, Mariakerke beach and Raversijde beach. All these beaches attract a different crowd. The most popular and busiest beach of Ostend is the Groot Strand. In the summer this beach is the busiest, but even in July and August one can find plenty of space here. By walking a few dozen meters you'll be able to find your very own quiet spot.
This quiet Oosterstrand part is located east of the harbour, near Fort Napoleon. This sandy beach doesn't have any beach cabins or beach pavilions. The beach is about 1.2 km long and ±70 meters wide. It's a light sandy beach in front of a row of dunes on a flat sloping sea. These peaceful eastern beaches partly have a paved footpath on the Spinoladijk. It is the quiet - 'secret' - alternative, directly behind the dunes, for anyone who likes more space.
The Klein Strand lies between the Westerstaketsel and the Westelijke Strekdam. Along this part of the Albert I promenade, you'll find an almost continuous line of high-rise building mainly consisting of apartments. The beach is about 400 meters long and ±130 meters wide. Swimming is forbidden. This makes it less attractive for sunbathers and swimmers to install themselves there. In addition, this beach area is regularly used for various activities and events.
The Groot Strand is about 2 kilometers long and on about 100 meters wide. It is situated from the Koninklijke Gaanderijen in the southwest, to Zeeheldenplein in the northeast of the city. This part of the beach has several facilities such as a public toilet, showers, some beach clubs and a first aid post. The beach is the busiest west of the Casino Kursaal. During the hot summer days, this beach can get quite crowded as a result of many tourists who want to come and cool off in the sea. The eastern part is a lot narrower and a lot less crowded as well.
At the end of the Koninklijke Gaanderijen, on the border between Mariakerke beach and Groot Strand, lies the Sportstrand. A beach area especially for the youth and the (surf)sportsmen. Young people are not bothering the elderly here with their beach activities, or by enjoying some music. This makes Ostend one of the few places on the Belgian coast that has seriously thought about this young target group. There are nets for beach volleyball, you can chill at the wooden picnic tables and there is a small climbing wall.
Immediately to the west of the youth beach is the kite and surf area. This part of the beach has a ramp allowing you to drop your surfing gear at the beach by car. Swimming is not allowed in the area assigned to (kite) surfers.
If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle, you better look up the beaches at the Mariakerke pool a little further away. There's plenty of space here, even on sunny days. The beach is located west of the Koninklijke Gaanderijen and east of Raversijde. The beach is about 2.4 kilometers long and ±90 meters wide. Along the Zeedijk, you'll find an almost continuous stretch of high-rise buildings with mainly apartments. Mariakerke attracts plenty of families in summer.
The Raversijde beach is much more peaceful during hot summer days, which is nice for those who don't like the hustle and bustle. It lies to the west of the Raversijde Provincial Estate near Middelkerke and to the east of the Mariakerke Dune Area. The beach is about 2.5 kilometers long and ±70 meters wide. Not only is the beach of Raversijde beautiful, it is also surrounded by beautiful nature. Moreover, this beach is easily accessible by coastal tram. The rails and stop are almost on the beach and offer a direct view of the North Sea.
The beaches will be cleaned everyday during the summer. Besides the rescue brigade will guard the beaches and warns when there is a dangerous current or wind; a pleasant and safe feeling.
A sunbath or a walk along the beach, playing fun or water sports. The very well maintained, white beaches of will offer you peace and quietness. Optimum facilities will tribute to the comfort and with that the holiday pleasure of the guests. It starts with accessible beach crossings and the lifeguards whom watch over the well being of the guests, with a First aid post nearby. Furthermore the local cafes, terraces and restaurants near the beach will take care of the needs for serving drinks, icecream, lunch and diner.
If the rescue stations are not open, a general swimming prohibition applies. This is clearly indicated with signs 'forbidden to bathe' and / or wind bags. On this page you can check where you can go for a safe splash in the water!
On the beaches you will find flags and signs with instructions for swimming. It is wise to take account of these signals. They are there for you!
Floating Bodies prohibited
The beach is the ideal destination for many dogs to enjoy. A Frisbee, a stick or a ball can fetch give great pleasure. And what is more fun than making a beach walk with your dog? However, on various beaches are dogs, loose or on a leash, not allowed all year.
Dogs are prohibited on the beaches of Oostende during the period from Easter vacation till 1 October.
Outside of the above mentioned period are dogs allowed (both loose and leased) on the beaches of Oostende.
Nearest beach for dogs at Oostende
- At low tide there is a strong current towards the sea, than stay close to shore. In case you get pulled in by the current do not try to swim straight against it, but swim slanting to the shore with the current. Also be aware of floating devices like air-beds, boats or other swimming devices.
- Do not get to close to the poles, piers or other obstacles.
- Watch your children carefully, do not let them alone near the water. Are there recognition signs on the beach, tell it to your children.
- Help to keep the beaches clean.