With your face in the wind and the sea air in your nose, water sports are one of the best ways to enjoy being by (or rather, in!) the sea. And thankfully, the beaches around Amsterdam offer a plethora of possibilities for getting active on the water.

1) Surfing

Make like you’re in Maui and go surfing… or windsurfing. The Netherlands has a big surfing scene, and there are plenty of surf schools, where you can take both surfing and windsurfing classes and also hire all the necessary equipment. So whether you’re a pro or an absolute beginner, you will have no problem hitting the waves.

Best in: The season usually runs from April to October. Summer’s best for the beginners, spring and autumn for the pros, as there are more chances for good wind and bigger waves – but do take care you have all the proper equipment if you go in colder weather, including neoprene gloves, shoes and a cap.

Go to: Wijk aan Zee by IJmuiden is one of the Netherlands’ top surf spots – check out the Ozlines surf school for surfing lessons. Zandvoort and Bloemendaal also pull their weight when it comes to surfing, though. Surfana and First Wave in Zandvoort offer surf lessons, and Bloemendaal even has a surf camp in the summer months. And all three places offer more than enough opportunities for relaxing in a beach bar at the end of the day, musing over all your best moves (or most spectacular wipeouts).

2) Sea and surf kayaking

One for the proper adventurers: kayaking in the sea, especially if it’s a bit choppy, is thrilling. There are different varieties – you can kayak in the surf trying to catch the waves, or you can go on longer kayak tours. There’s also sea rafting.  

Best in: Spring, summer and autumn.

Go to: Surf kayaking is possible in IJmuiden (for example at Seaside Sports) and Zandvoort (check out Actief Events). A possible route for a sea kayaking tour is from Wijk aan Zee to IJmuiden. 

3) Kitesurfing

Kitesurfing has got really big in recent years, and the Netherlands has been at the forefront of that development. Like a more spectacular version of windsurfing, having a kite instead of a sail allows for very high jumps and incredible manoeuvres. You might need a bit of practice first, though! Thankfully, plenty of schools offer beginners’ classes as well as catering for more advanced kiters.  

Best in: Schools are open throughout the season (usually April to October), but pros can go kiting throughout the year in the Netherlands. Summer is most pleasant (for obvious reasons), while spring and autumn can be interesting for more advanced kitesurfers. Now all you need is a windy day!

Go to:  Wijk aan Zee’s Noordpier Beach is one of the most popular kiting spots due to its exceptional wind and wave flow caused by the Noordpier. For lessons, check Karta Boardsports, the Kitesurfschool, Kiteflow, MOFO Kitesurfing or KiteFeel. Zandvoort and Bloemendaal also offer great kiting spots and schools, for example Zeestock in Bloemendaal, which is run by an expat Aussie and connected to the Woodstock 69 beach club – so your post-surf leisure activities are directly sorted, too.

4) Blokarting

Now this technically doesn't take place in the sea (at least not if things go according to plan), but it is so much fun it fully deserves its spot in the top 5. Blokarting means you get to drive along the beach very fast in a kart with a sail – no rules, no jams, no oncoming traffic. One for the thrill seekers!

Best in: The summer season, for ultimate show-off potential and feel-good factor.

Go to: The wide beaches of IJmuiden are perfectly suited to speeding around – see Seaside Sports or Aerozone for more information.

5) Stand-up paddling

Stand up paddling Dave Young

Stand-up paddling (or SUP) is a relatively new sport. Unsurprisingly, it involves standing upright on a surfboard with a paddle. SUP lessons and equipment are offered at most surfing and kitesurfing schools.  

Best in: If you’re a total beginner, you might want to pick a summer day when the sea is very calm – although falling of your board is really par for the course and SUP wouldn’t be as fun without a few spectacular dives into the sea.

Go to: Where there’s surfing, there’s SUP, so just pick your favourite surfing spot and get paddling.