A small island but great in diversity, that is Texel. Here is the National Park Dunes of Texel. And not only the Dunes can charm us. Texel offers so much more!
We have set ourselves the goal of visiting the 21 National Parks of the Netherlands within a year. Here you can read all about the parks we allready visited. Duinen van Texel is one of them!
Typical….National Park Dunes of Texel
This National Park is located on the Wadden Island of Texel. The largest and busiest Wadden Island. It is about 107 square kilometers and is home to just over 13,000 people. The National Park itself measures 43 square kilometers. It mainly concerns the dunes on the western side of the island, the southern part and the northernmost tip.
Now you may be thinking ‘Dunes? There isn’t that much variety there, is it?’ The opposite is true. Each area offers different vegetation, animals and environment. When you cycle across the island you will see those differences passing by. If you go hiking, you will experience the beautiful nature up close.
In the south, De Hors is a bird paradise, with the beautiful Horsmeertjes and De Geul. A little further we find the Bollekamer, dunes as you imagine when you think of dunes. They are getting wetter here. This area has come to Texel. Here and there you see poles on which the Flood Line of about 100, 200 years or more ago stands. Then you drive through the forest. Wonderfully cool under the trees. After the Koog you will find the special Sluftervallei on your left. On the north side of the island is the red lighthouse, the Eierlandse lighthouse. Here we have a view of the North Sea and when we drive south again: the Wadden Sea. In the distance we see the seals resting.
What is striking, in addition to the enormous variety of landscapes, is that it is so wide. You can see for miles on the beach and in the dunes and there are no buildings. In addition, you hear little ambient noise.
The visitor center is located in Ecomare. Ecomare is a nature museum where you can also admire porpoises, seals and other sea inhabitants. Several hiking trails also start here. There are many bicycle rental companies on the island. A visit to Texel may seem complicated, but the boat sails every hour (in busy weekends even every half hour) and costs only 5 euros for you and your bike. And you can have fun all day long!
My humble opinion
I’ve been to Texel twice before, but my last visit was a long time ago. We decide to leave immediately after work on Friday and take the 8:30 boat. Twenty minutes later we cycle on very quiet paths across the island to our campsite.
Texel evokes a holiday feeling in me. That’s because of the boat trip, the sea and the beach are always nearby.
I find the national park itself surprisingly beautiful and peaceful. Despite the crowds on the boat and in the villages, the rest of the island is quiet. Of course we meet many other cyclists and walkers in the Slufter, but because the island has so many wide areas you never have the idea of crowds. The bike paths are good, the signage fine. There are benches everywhere in beautiful places to enjoy the surroundings. There are many different options to stay. In short, a great national park! One drawback….there are virtually no public toilets. But if that’s the only thing!
We drive to Den Helder on Friday evening. We take the boat at half past seven. Boarding is super easy and fast. You can purchase the tickets online and you can drive onto the boat in no time! The crossing is only short, but the sea air is wonderfully refreshing.
Once on the other side we cycle 15 kilometers to our campsite. We take the route via the west side of the island and thus pass directly through the national park. The cycle paths are wonderfully quiet on this summer evening.
No, we don’t have a pheasant sandwich on our breakfast menu…. This pheasant comes to have a look while we are having breakfast. That’s how the wildlife comes to you! There are also many bunnies running around. Fun!
Camping Kogerstrand was not our first choice, but the farm campsites we had in mind were already full. This huge campsite has 900 places, not really my idea of a nice campsite….but there are many beautiful places that are located in the dunes. It’s like wild camping!
We have been allocated a place at the toilet block, but at the reception it can be arranged in such a way that we can choose another dune spot. There are several nice places in the D section. There is plenty of choice. The campsite is not cheap, however it is a great location and the sanitary facilities are good. With no. 48 we have a sea view and a little later we see the setting sun sink into the sea. What a wonderful start to the weekend!
After a drink with a beautiful view, we set up our tent and crawl into our sleepingbags.
Breakfast with pheasant
After breakfast we determine our cycling route for today. We drive to the north, with a hiking trip at De Slufter, then to the lighthouse and the Eierland dunes. We cycle back to the south via the east side of the island. Halfway through we drive along the Walenburg nature reserve to the Koog and back to our campsite.
The Slufter is actually a failed reclamation, now it is a beautiful nature reserve. It is dynamic, the area is in open connection with the North Sea. This means that it can be completely submerged at high tide! In the southern part you can find your own way, because roaming is allowed. There is also a wheelchair path, but we stroll through the salt marshes and creeks. I like it!
It is an enormous wide area with special salt-loving plants such as sea lavender and samphire. That will look beautiful in the fall! We see many birds such as egg ducks and spoonbills and various gulls and waders.
We cycle further north. We pass the Eierland dunes and end at the red Eierland lighthouse. You can also visit this lighthouse if you wish (an online ticket costs 5 euros). Did you know that Eierland was a separate island until the 17th century? A sand dike was then built between Texel and Eierland. The name Eierland probably comes from the large number of breeding birds and therefore the many eggs.
Western side of the island
We cycle back to the south via the seawall on the western side. In the distance we see seals lying on a sandbank. Here in the north, as a walker or cyclist, you can take a boat to Terschelling and Vlieland if you would like to go island hopping. A nice idea for the future!
We cycle along Utopia, a wetland area of Natuurmonumenten with countless birds. What a lively bunch! They all make a lot of noise. There is an observation point where you can observe the various waders, ducks and gulls.
At junction 34 we drive to the center of the island. This is a bit more boring. Here we mainly see agricultural companies.
At junction 61 we arrive at one of the oldest polders of Texel. Waalenburg is also part of Natuurmonumenten and has been developed into a nature reserve. It is the first piece of nature reserve that has been purchased by Natuurmonumenten. It is a salt marsh area with beautiful ditches and windmills. You will find many meadow birds and plants such as orchids here. It’s fun to cycle through it.
In the evening we eat at the Vogelnest in de Koog. Then we pay a visit to the beach.
Breakfast with rabbit
The next morning the weather is lovely and sunny. We have breakfast on the dune top with bunnies nearby. We have a view of a wonderfully blue sky.
Our bike ride today heads south. We cycle through De Dennen, the forest with Corsican and Austrian pines was once established as a wood production forest but is now supplemented with deciduous trees to increase the variation. We also pass the Bleekers Valley. This is where the linen used to be bleached.
Sunday lunch on the beach
We have lunch on the beach. For this we cycle from junction 10 to the west, through the Bollekamer and the Hoornderslag. This is an area covered with dune heather, where Exmoor ponies and Scottish Highlanders also graze. The Loodsmansduin, one of the highest dunes here, used to be used to guide ships around the point.
We are enjoying the lovely weather on the beach!
The Geul, Horsmeertjes and the Mok Bay
After our visit to the beach, we drive to De Geul and the Horsmeertjes. There are several vantage points here. You also have a good view of the Mok Bay along the cycle path. It is teeming with birds here. We see several birds of prey, gulls, cormorants, spoonbills and waders. Actually, we are short of eyes and time! Through nature reserve De Petten we drive to the ferry.