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In 2009 the Dutch inter-tidal zone known as the Wadden Sea was declared an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it more than warrants the prestigious accolade, for it’s an absolutely stunning natural environment boasting in excess of 10,000 species of plants and wildlife and offering an abundance of fun-packed activities. Indeed, the Wadden Sea is the ideal destination for those seeking an exciting and adventure-filled holiday in the Netherlands!
The Wadden Sea by boot or on foot
The Dutch Wadden Sea region consists of the numerous islands (both the inhabited islands of Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog and the uninhabited islands of Noorderhaaks, Rottumeroog and Rottumerplaat) and the wetlands that partly dry out during low tide. Tourists can hop on a ferry at a number of departure points located at various coastal towns in the provinces of North Holland, Friesland and Groningen, and be whisked away to their island of choice for a simple day trip or a more extended stay at one of the many camp sites, hotels or bed and breakfast establishments.
Alternatively, when it’s low tide and parts of the Wadden Sea are dry, you can always opt to walk to the islands across the challenging mud flats instead. However, as it’s not considered safe, it’s forbidden to ‘wadlopen’ (or hike across the mudflats) alone, and you’ll need to join one of the organised trips that take place throughout the months of June, July, August and September, and on which you’ll be accompanied by a professional guide who’ll help you navigate the route safely. Whilst you can sign up for trips of varying distances (ranging from 7 to 20 km in total), you will require a certain degree of physical fitness for all of them and waterproof and mud-resistant clothing are essential, as are a selection of typical Dutch snacks to sustain you throughout the day! For more information and reservations visit the Wadloopcentrum Fryslân or the Stichting Wadlopcentrum Pieterburen websites.
Activities on and around the islands
After a demanding day’s wadlopen, many feel utterly exhausted and choose to return to the mainland by boat. Yet, if you do decide to remain on one of the beautiful islands, even for just a few days, you’ll be thoroughly rewarded. Why not rent a bike for example and take the opportunity to explore the breath-taking scenery on two wheels? Visitors can go bird watching, seal spotting, climb spectacular lighthouses or take a memorable boat trip across the Wadden Sea. Sightseeing can be followed up with a delicious evening meal of freshly caught seafood (including oysters, prawns and fish) served with seasonal delicacies such as samphire, at a cosy café or convivial island restaurant. And, if you fancy a nightcap after dinner, then a glass of the local tipple, Juttertje, is an absolute must!
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?