The Wadden Islands, an archipelago that can be found off the north coast of the Netherlands, consists of five individually distinct islands, all of which are uninhabited. From the long beaches of Texel to the history of Ameland, each of these islands offers quite the unique experience, making them all well worth visiting.
The smallest of the Wadden Islands, the entire island of Schiermonnikoog has been designated a national park, and is home to an extraordinary variety of natural diversity. With the widest beach in Europe, 30 kilometers of cycling paths, and Lake Westerplas, which attracts a large number of wildlife species, the varied landscape here makes for quite the adventure.
The largest of the five Wadden Islands, Texel is a fantastic year-round destination, and while it is most famous for its long, sandy beaches, there is a great variety of other activities to be found. The 150 year old Texel Lighthouse can be found on the widest beach on the island, and has a viewing platform where you can take in your gorgeous surroundings from above. For those who want to explore more of Texel’s natural offerings, there are a few nature reserves to be found, such as De Muy, which is known for its wild orchids, and De Geul, home to the largest spoonbill colony in Europe.
While Ameland is not as isolated as Vlieland or Schiermonnikoog, it is also not as busy as Texel, making it a great compromise for those who want some, but not too much, seclusion, especially since it is just as scenic as the other islands. One of the highlights of Ameland is the island’s monthly horseback rescue team demonstration, at which a team of ten horses pull an old rescue boat into the sea to launch it, in the same way that it used to be done many decades ago.
The first sight that most visitors have of Terschelling is of the Brandaris, the oldest lighthouse in the Netherlands that dates all the way back to 1594. Just like the other islands, Terschelling is packed with natural beauty, with the Boschplaat Nature Reserve being one of the best locations to experience this. In addition to its nature, Terschelling is also home to a number of different restaurants and galleries, making this island quite the cultural hot spot.
The most remote of the Wadden Islands, Vlieland is a quiet island that is mostly forested, and only has one small village. Measuring just two kilometres in width and 12 kilometres in length, this island’s main attraction is the Vuurboetsduin, a forty meter dune that boasts a red lighthouse at the top. For those who want to explore the whole island in a short amount of time, the Vliehors Express is the way to go, as this converted military truck offers safari rides to visitors across the island’s sand flats.
Each of the five Wadden Islands are worth exploring, because while they do share many similar features, each island has its own individual culture and style. For those who want to visit all five of the islands, there are several island hopping tours to choose from that run in the spring, summer and autumn, or, alternatively, you can arrange your own customized boat trip.