For most people in Belgium and the Netherlands, the Wadden islands are kind of mythical. Most of us know about their existence, but never actually get a good understanding of what the islands are all about. I did a 4-day trip to discover the essence of the Wadden Islands.
The islands actually have several names. You can either say the Wadden Islands, or you can say the Frisian Islands. Both names are correct.
The five islands: Schiermonnikoog, Ameland, Terschelling, Vlieland, and Texel.
On this trip, I visited Ameland, Terschelling, and Vlieland. I’ve been to Texel last year and might go to Schiermonnikoog in a couple of months.
Day 1: Leaving the mainland to the Wadden islands
Around noon we left the harbor of Harlingen with the beautiful ship: the Iselmar. There is room for up to 60 people on this ship, making it the perfect base for larger groups that want to discover the Frisian islands.
On the ship, we were accompanied by Jaap Dros who told us some stories about the Frisian Islands and sang some songs. We also had the pleasure to meet with Ruurd Jelle van der Leij. He’s the cameraman for a documentary named WAD. A movie I am certainly going to watch when it premieres. A local Planet Earth? Yes, please!
After some sailing lessons and a great lunch by ‘t Pakhuus from Texel, we arrived at Terschelling. The first island we visited during the weekend.
Terschelling: The cranberry Wadden island
Fun fact: a lot of buildings on Terschelling are made with wood from shipwrecks.
With that in mind, we left the harbor with e-bikes to visit the wreckage museum in the village Formerum.
A visit to the wreckage museum
In the wreckage museum or wrakkenmuseum, you can find all the objects Hille collected since 1985. Hille is a local man who, up until recently, went for regular dives in wrecks. He’s also a strandjutter, so his museum is full of old relics, and contemporary objects that washed ashore.
A strandjutter is a person that goes to beaches and collects items that are washed ashore.
Eating cranberries at Terschelling
According to an old story, there once washed a barrel of cranberries ashore. Sailors used this fruit to stay healthy. A local found the barrel and decided to start growing the fruits.
These days cranberries are an important part of the diet on Terschelling. So make sure to try some cranberry-pie, cranberry flavored candy,….
Day 2: Discovering Ameland
In the morning we found a delicious breakfast on our ship, the Iselmar, and a water taxi waiting for us. The taxi took us to Ameland, the neighboring island.
On the island, we rented some bikes from Nobel which is a big name on the island. From the bike-rental, we biked to the lighthouse.
These days the lighthouse is automated, but the old guard is still around in the museum. He told us many stories about the olden days, about the stressful moments, and about drunk skippers.
The air at sea makes you hungry
I don’t know what it is with the air at sea, but it always seems to work up an appetite for me. So after our visit to the lighthouse, we went to The Sunset. A fun restaurant at the beach. I bet you can enjoy the sunset there at dinner.
But we had lunch, so we only had the food to please us. And pleasing us it did!
Biking and more Nobel
After a good lunch, we had enough energy to take our bikes to the dunes. On most Wadden Islands they have great roads for cycling around. Even trough the dunes.
We took a nice route through the dunes where you see plenty of (flying) wildlife. At the end of our drive, we arrived at the little village Ballum. There you have a hotel, liquor store and bar by Nobel.
At the bar, we had a taste of his own invented liquor. Which is a mixture of several other drinks. Very tasty!
Catching wind at Beach Ameland
At the Outdoor Centre Beach Ameland, we borrowed a couple of blowkarts. Basically karts with a sail on them. The friendly staff the center explained how to use them, what to do with the wind that day, and how to maximize the fun.
So we went ahead and maximized the fun. Even though we didn’t have much wind, we drove our karts around.
After a while, we got hungry again and walked to the village Nes. There you find a restaurant that has the most delicious food on the island. Zee van Tijd, translated as Sea of Time, has a wide arrange of quality food.
Day 3: Getting close to nature
Starting with a walk under the supervision of ranger Feline, we explored the polders of Terschelling. During our hike, we picked several plants and flowers.
Fun fact: creeping willow helps against headaches, and is, according to Ranger Feline, a good way to fight hangovers.
After our hike, we handed our basket with flowers and herbs to Flang. He gives workshops and uses as many local products as possible.
Flang, from Flang in de pan, made us nettle-soup and pasta pesto with some of the herbs we collected earlier. I can honestly say it was one of the best pasta-pesto’s I had in my life. Some nice nature in our stomachs.
Seal watching on the banks
After our natural lunch, we hopped on the ship again. Destination Vlieland. Underway we got picked up by a fast boat which took us to the sandbanks in the Wadden Sea.
On De Richel, one of the bigger and more known banks, we saw a lot of seals. Apparently, there are hundreds on the bank.
Afterward, the kind people controlling the boat dropped us off at the Vlieland harbor… completely in awe of what we saw.
Discovering the humanity of Vlieland
Upon our arrival, we rented another set of e-bikes and went to the Vlielander bunkers H12. This is a museum that showcases the old bunkers of the Atlantik Wall. Especially the view from these dunes is amazing.
We then went to the little town to have a drink. I can recommend Het Praethuys as the best place to get a cold beer or nice coffee.
Afterward, we had dinner in the Dining at the harbor. They have a strong wine selection and great beers. Like the locally brewed Rampzalig. One of the few beers made on the Wadden islands.
Vlieland, a small island in the Wadden Sea, is home to the Rampzalig beer. Its a red ale by #selkiebrouwerij, and its delicious. It has dune water and a bit of #northsea in it. Cheers, @fredpaulussen. – #beersnob #beer #beerstagram #brandbrewery #brewerytown #brewerylife #brewers #brewery #beerfest #vlieland #wadtodo #beerinstagram #beertography #weekend #redale #dutchbeer #beertasting #drinkresponsibly #alcohol #drink
In the evening we headed for the beach again. It was already dark, but luckily we had a local guy that made a fire for us. He was actually the guy that invented the Rampzalig beer. That night didn’t end early, I can say.
Day 4: Birdwatching and relaxing
In the morning we headed to Kroon’s Polders on Vlieland. We had another ranger waiting for us there. He guided us into the polders where the birds’ nest.
They have a new and comfortable bird spotting hut, so we spend some time looking at the many birds in the area. Apparently, you can even spot flamingoes if you’re lucky.
Being satisfied with what we saw, we headed for the ship again and left the Wadden islands. We sailed the entire afternoon, hoisted the sails, and relaxed in the sun.