The West Frisian Islands, also known as the Wadden Islands, are a chain of islands, including five main ones, that lie to the north of the Netherlands, forming a protective barrier between the north of the country and the viscous lashings of the North Sea. They are the remnants of a sandbank that was formed in the last Ice Age, and today, continuously eroded by the sea, the West Frisan Islands are some of Europe’s last remaining destinations famous for their wilderness, giving them a timeless quality that nowhere else in Europe can compete with.
Texel, the largest of the West Frisian Islands, is home to wide beaches where you can walk for hours without seeing another person, lush forests, nature reserves and quaint villages, and relies primarily on tourism as its source of income. The lighthouse on the north of the island is a 150 year old building that, when you climb to the top, offers amazing views of Texel and its neighboring island. Ecomare is also worth a visit, and is a park where injured or sick sea animals, such as seals and porpoises, are brought in and nursed back to life. Nature and adventure lovers should also head to De Slufter nature reserve, the only area in Holland where the North Sea is allowed unrestricted access onto the land. After a big storm hits, the entire lagoon is underwater, and this has created a truly unique natural landscape. While on Texel, be sure to have a taste of Texel lamb, a local breed with a salty taste, due to the salty grass that the sheep eat.
A small island that doesn’t allow non-residents to bring in cars, Vlieland, commonly known as the Sahara of the North, offers serenity, sunshine and natural beauty – the perfect place to get away from it all. Almost everyone on the island travels around by bicycle, exploring the pine woods and the massive stretches of beaches. It is the most isolated of the West Frisian Islands, but its wild and windswept nature is what put it on OROGOLD’s list of timeless destinations around the world. A boat tour can take you out into the sea to do some seal watching, or you can explore the island by land, either on horseback or via a ‘Desert Safari‘ in a converted military truck.
The second largest of the West Frisian Islands, Terschelling is ideal for those who want serene stretches of beaches away from the beach clubs of the mainland. The villages feature gabled 19th century houses and there are plenty of ‘traditional trade’ sites for you to visit, such as farmhouses that produce local cheese or ice cream. The Boschplaat Nature Reserve is also worth visiting, with a huge bird colony, some unique plant species and plenty of intricately colored butterflies. The summer months are the best months to visit, because, when dusk falls, the locals set up low-key, laid back bistros by the harbor and stay up late drinking Jupiler beer and socializing.
In order to preserve the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the islands, UNESCO placed the area on its World Heritage Site list in 2009. The untouched wilderness and relaxed way of life are ideal for a relaxing vacation where you can spend some time with true nature, and this is why OROGOLD believes that the West Frisian Islands are not only a timeless destination, but also a hidden gem that has yet to be discovered by most travelers.