Schiermonnikoog: a car-free island
A feast for the eyes and the widest beach in Europe: the Rif
The Rif is the widest sandbar in the Dutch Wadden Sea. It is located in the south-west of Schiermonnikoog and is up to 1.5 km wide in many places. This means that you have to walk for a bit until you've crossed the gleaming white sandy beach and arrived at the Wadden Sea. The sandbar offers fascinating views, shaped by wind and weather, sand and mud. If you want to get down to the water more quickly, you'll find a wide variety of other North beaches at Schiermonnikoog which, incidentally, are among the cleanest in the Netherlands.
Schiermonnikoog: the whole island is a national park!
The Wadden island of Schiermonnikoog may indeed be small, but it has plenty of nature. You can find forest, dunes, polders, salt marshes, mudflats and small lakes on the Wadden island. Because of the diversity of its landscapes, Schiermonnikoog was made a national park in 1989. The diverse and protected natural surroundings are also home to many birds. You might encounter around 300 different bird species on Schiermonnikoog over the course of a year. In addition to this, there are also hundreds of different plants, including nine wild orchid species. Learn more about the Schiermonnikoog National Park.
A small island with only one village
The only village on the island, Schiermonnikoog, which shares the name of the island, is a magical place with its historic houses, and invites you to go for a wander. Have a coffee and a piece of cake in one of the cozy cafes with a sun terrace! By the way: the oldest house in the North Sea islands, the Huis Marten, dates back to 1721 and can be found in the street known as Middenstreek, at number 60. You'll encounter a curious sight at Nieuwestreek/Willemshof. There, you'll see a meter-high whale jaw, a 'souvenir' from the Arctic.
What can you do on Schiermonnikoog?
Boat trip to see the seals: an excursion boat will bring you to the Wadden Sea, where you can gaze at the seals lying around and go for a walk on a sandbank.
Regular excursions are on offer from the national park visitor center - in the mudflats, to the salt marshes and in the coastal forest.
You can also book carriage rides and beach tours with the Balg Express, a tractor with trailers, in the visitor center.
The Bunker Museum in Schlei is a bunker with the job of receiving and transmitting signals to the German Luftwaffe in the Second World War (open on Sunday and Wednesday afternoons).
In the Paal 14 Mussel Museum, you can see 1,500 mussels from all over the world.
Sporting activities on offer on Schiermonnikoog range from beach sailing to surfing and sailing to yoga on the beach.
Tip: the fascinating nature on the car-free island of Schiermonnikoog is best explored by bicycle. Two bicycle hire stations supply visitors to the island with 'fietsen' (Dutch for 'bicycles'). The local VVV (tourist board) offers an organized cycling tour. Here you can learn everything about the landscape, the history and nature of the Wadden Sea island.
If you want to go to Schiermonnikoog, you'll have to take the ferry. The ferry runs five times a day (more frequently in the peak season), four times on Sundays. One journey lasts 45 minutes. Vacation has already begun for most guests to the island with the trip on the ferry. Around 300,000 people visit the island every year. Especially popular with visitors is the Kallemooifeest – a traditional festival on Pentecost Weekend – and Klozum, a costume festival which takes place in December. The culinary specialties of the island include Schiermonnikoog honey and farm cheese.
The island of Schiermonnikoog is the easternmost of the Dutch North Sea islands. The port of departure for all visitors is the port of Lauwersoog in the Dutch province of Groningen. All visitors must leave their cars at a parking lot there, as Schiermonnikoog is car-free (only residents are allowed to use a car)! Visitors can travel with the Wagenborg ferry company, which offers a regular, 45-minute service and an express service (20 minutes). The water taxis to Schiermonnikoog, which are also offered by Wagenborg, take as long as the express service. The advantage? Just like a normal taxi, a water taxi comes on demand as well.
The pearls of the North Sea
Another lovely North Sea island is Texel, the largest of the Dutch Wadden Sea islands. You can get to Texel quickly and cheaply with the ferry, which travels to the island from Den Helder every hour. The island of Ameland is also very popular with visitors to Holland, and has a romantic appearance with its red and white lighthouse. West of Ameland lies Terschelling, where the great cultural event of Oerol takes place once a year. The Wadden Sea is spread out between the islands and the mainland, a fascinating habitat due to its changes caused by the ebb and flow of the tides. The Wadden Sea is bordered by Lake IJsselmeer, which was once an estuary, but is separated from the North Sea today by the Lake IJsselmeer closure embankment.