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Summer in Belgium: The best places for water activities
South of Charleroi, bordering France, lies Belgium’s largest artificial water, the tourist resort of Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure. Five lakes offer more than 25 activities, including sailing, stand-up paddle-boarding, diving, cable water-skiing, jet-skiing, windsurfing and more, while other pursuits cover walking, golf, Segway and mountain biking.
Enjoy the thrills – and hopefully not the spills – of kayaking one of the Ardennes’ many rivers. There are no shortage of spots to test your skills or just admire the scenery. Namur, Liège and Luxembourg provinces are the places to head for the Semois, Ourthe, Viroin and Lesse rivers, where companies rent out equipment and organise transport to bring you back to where you started. Tip: leave a change of clothes in the car.
From spring onwards, keen scuba divers kit up and descend the cool waters of the country’s abandoned quarries, many of which have full diving facilities. One example is the 30m deep Croisette quarry near Walcourt; among its attractions are marble pillars as a reminder of its former activity and abundant fish life. Another popular site is La Gombe, near Liège, complete with sunken aircraft and dead trees. Join a club to make the most of the variety of dives possible.
The Belgian coast may not be as famous as the south of France when it comes to taking a dip in the ocean, but plenty of swimmers take to it every summer. The waves are small, the sea bed is sandy and there are lifeguards on hand until mid-September. The water quality is checked every week at several points and is usually only a concern after heavy rain. But there are also other ways to enjoy the sea in Belgium. The Knokke Boat Seal Discovery tour takes you into the inland waters of Zeebrugge to see where the seals hang out, and if you’re really lucky, you might even spot a harbour porpoise.
Several lakes in Flanders are maintained for swimming inside recreation parks, and there are also man-made swimming ponds. The best-known is Boekenberg in the Deurne district of Antwerp, Europe’s largest ecological swimming pond. It can get crowded on warm summer days, and you might be restricted to a certain period of time. The Blaarmeersen in Ghent, meanwhile, is home to a lake, campground, tennis courts, kayak rental and diving lessons.
Zilvermeer in Mol, Antwerp province, is a lovely out-of-the-way place. The swimming lake has water slides, while a separate lake is reserved for kayaks, surfers and sailboats. All lakes suitable for swimming are on a website run by the Flemish government. For open-air swimming pools, Antwerp is hard to beat: De Molen on the left bank is huge and surrounded by trees and a windmill.
This article first appeared in The Bulletin Summer 2018. Pick up a copy in newsagents today or subscribe now...