Nature reserve De Westhoek

A Haven of Peace and Natural Beauty near De Panne


In the most western point of Belgium, at the border with France, lies the stunning nature reserve of De Westhoek. This area of 345 hectares is considered one of the most valuable natural areas in Flanders and attracts thousands of visitors each year who are looking for peace and natural beauty.

The reserve comprises a varied landscape of dunes, beach, forests, meadows, and marshes, and provides a home to a great diversity of plants and animals. Bird enthusiasts can marvel at the more than 200 different bird species that breed here, including the rare Little Tern and Common Eider. The dunes are home to unique plant species, such as the dune violets and sand oats.


Waymarked routes

A walk through De Westhoek is a unique experience. The area is well signposted, and there are several routes you can follow, varying in length and difficulty. One of the most popular walks is the dune path, which takes you through the high dunes and offers breathtaking views over the North Sea.

Cycling routes

In addition to walking, De Westhoek is also an excellent place for cycling. There are several cycling routes through the reserve and the surrounding villages, where you can enjoy the rural setting and quiet roads.


Below are three of the most popular routes you can take from De Panne:

  1. Westhoek Hiking Trail
    1. Starting location: Visitors' Centre Duinpanne, Olmendreef 2
    2. Description: This hiking trail is approximately 7 kilometers long and takes you through the dunes, forests, and along the beach. You'll get a beautiful view of the North Sea and you'll also pass by some bunkers from World War I.
  2. Houtsaegerduinen Biking Trail
    1. Starting location: Kerkplein, 8660 De Panne
    2. Description: This biking trail is approximately 15 kilometers long and takes you through the Houtsaegerduinen and Oosthoekduinen. You'll ride along the French border and through the beautiful natural reserve De Westhoek.
  3. Calmeynbos Hiking Trail
    1. Starting location: Visitors' Centre Duinpanne, Olmendreef 2
    2. Description: This hiking trail is approximately 5 kilometers long and takes you through the beautiful Calmeynbos, located near De Panne. You'll pass by a pond and you can spot wild animals such as deer, foxes, and rabbits.

Please note that the exact length of the routes may vary depending on the chosen route and any detours. It is advisable to consult the route description beforehand and to download any maps or navigation apps to assist you during your hike or bike ride.


For those looking for more adventurous activities, there are opportunities to kayak on the nearby river IJzer, or to go horse riding on the beach. And if you're lucky, you might even spot a seal!

Visitor centre

At the visitor centre Duinpanne, you can learn more about the history of the area and the different animals and plants that live there. There are also regular exhibitions and educational activities for children.

Nature reserve De Westhoek

Nature reserve De Westhoek

"The Nightingale" is the perfect location for a walk through one of the dunes on the west coast. At the desk you can find a lot of nature and area information. The interactive permanent exhibition introduces you to sea, beach and dunes and how the coastal region came about, the nature areas on the west coast and ...

    Olmendreef 2, De Panne
    web. Website More information

    In short, if you're looking for a peaceful and relaxing holiday in nature, then De Westhoek is the perfect destination. It offers a unique combination of breathtaking landscapes, unique animals and plants, and diverse activities for all ages. A visit to this nature reserve is an unforgettable experience that you shouldn't miss!