View of Schiermonnikoog with women in a red coat walking
© Merel Tuk
Category:Explore the Dutch national parks

Schiermonnikoog National Park

Schiermonnikoog is one of the five Dutch Wadden Islands and a national park. Due to the influence of the tides and its location between the Wadden Sea and the North Sea, the island has a climate that differs from the mainland. This special climate is part of the reason why the island has such a varied landscape. With some of the widest beaches in Europe, it’s also home to dunes, forests, salt marshes, polders, lakes and mudflats. Once named the most beautiful place in the Netherlands, Schiermonnikoog is a nature-lover’s paradise.

  • Discover the historical charm of the town centre.
  • Enjoy the untouched natural beauty.
  • Relax on one of the widest beaches in Europe.
Torenstreek 20

Historical charm of Schiermonnikoog

Schiermonnikoog is rightly known for its unspoiled nature, but it also has a quiet, historical charm. The centre of the island’s only town is a protected townscape and car-free. The traditional character of the town has been well-preserved and you can soak up the island’s vibe while enjoying a drink or meal at one of the various cafés or restaurants. The old sea dike, located between the Bank van Banck landmark and the Westerduinweg, served as the main flood defence until 1962 and is now a walking path with a fantastic view of the polder and the Westerplas lake.

Pay a visit to De Kooiplaats farm to see the traditional duck decoys. Originally used to catch ducks without using a gun, the site is now a cultural-historical monument. Schiermonnikoog also has two lighthouses, the red one in the north (Noordertoren) and the white one in the south (Zuidertoren). The light of the Zuidertoren was extinguished in 1909 as a change in the course of the water in the Frisian estuary meant this lighthouse was no longer needed. Today the tower is used for telecommunication equipment. The Noordertoren is still in use. 

Flora and fauna of Schiermonnikoog

Birds and Seals on the beach

The nature of Schiermonnikoog is incredibly rich and varied. It is therefore not surprising that almost the entire island has been designated a National Park since 1989. It’s home to a unique bird population, making it a true birdwatcher’s paradise. On the Westerplas you will encounter different birds throughout the year, often in large numbers, including the bluethroat, cormorant, snipe, osprey, spoonbill, little egret and the brown and hen harrier. It’s an attractive nesting spot for birds mainly due to the lack of land predators. They also enjoy a rich supply of food, with large numbers of worms, shells, shrimp and crabs on the mudflats. Finally, the island is ideally located on the migration route of various birds and many of them stop here on their way to their wintering grounds.

Seals on the beach at Schiermonnikoog

In addition to beautiful birds, there is another animal that calls Schiermonnikoog home. Seals are popular residents on the island. Common and grey seals are two species that live in the Wadden Sea and the North Sea around the island. The grey seal is a lot bigger than the common seal. You may also come across seal pups lying comfortably on the beach. Often the mother is out hunting, but she always comes back for her young. That is why you should leave a young seal – like all wild animals you encounter – in peace.

Mos in the sand

Schiermonnikoog is also known for its rich plant life. More than 500 species of grasses, algae, herbs, mosses, flowers, plants, trees and mushrooms grow here. Because of the seawater, plants growing here can withstand salt water very well and the salt marsh has vegetation that you don't often encounter, such as sea lavender and samphire. The island’s dunes are home to an abundance of colourful flowers: the beautiful yellow of evening primroses and mullein, the white of parnassia, the bright blue of viper's bugloss and the beautiful pink of orchids.

Boat trip to Schiermonnikoog

There is no doubt about it. Schiermonnikoog is one of the most beautiful places in the Netherlands. Every year the island attracts thousands of nature lovers looking to unwind and enjoy the beautiful beach and lush vegetation. So, go ahead and make the crossing from the mainland to the Schiermonnikoog National Park. A boat will take you to this Dutch paradise in 45 minutes.

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