Schiermonnikoog National Park
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
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.
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.
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.