The West End Lakes cover a vast area of over 10 square kilometres. Popular with sailors and boaters, these lakes are home to over 50 marinas. The village of Aalsmeer, the flower capital of The Netherlands, is the perfect place to board your private saloon boat for a cruise on the West End Lakes.
From Aalsmeer, you will head south toward the Ring canal of the Haarlemmermeer polder and along Kaag, Hillegom, Heemstede, Zwanenburg and Schiphol-Oost. To your right you will see Aalsmeerderdijk and to the left endless islands. These are old legakkers, pieces of land created in the 17th and 18th centuries when excavated peat was laid to dry. These islands are privately owned and were once dotted with summer cottages but today they are only used for recreational buildings, some of which are for public use. Some of the land also belongs to flower breeders growing lilacs and tulips, turning portions of the land into a sea of beautiful colours.
Once you leave the dyke behind you will begin crossing the vast lakes toward Leimuiden and then follow the eastern shore along Calslagen. The West End Lakes are located in North Holland, but you will sail a bit along the border. If you decide to go ashore, you will technically be located in South Holland.
Next you will approach Forth Kudelstaart. This fort is part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam, a ring of forts built around the capital city which is now on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. The fort was completed in 1906 but has not been used since the war.
If you look further along the shore, you will spot the magnificent water tower of Aalsmeer. This building was constructed in 1928 in Art Deco style and was used until 1994. Today visitors can climb the 51-metre high tower for a beautiful view of the city and surrounding waters. The tower is also often used for weddings and is an official wedding location of the municipality of Aalsmeer.
Finally, you will sail back along the south side of the islands, through the canal, returning to Aalsmeer. Are you looking for a nice dinner location? Aalsmeer offers a number of fantastic restaurants where you can end your private cruise on the West End Lakes. You can also combine your cruise with a visit to the Aalsmeer flower auction, the largest in the world, or the Historic Garden Aalsmeer.