This beautiful Wadden Island is 18 square kilometers in size. World Heritage since 2009 and National Park since 1989. 275,000 visitors a year….and we’ve never been there. We are very curious about this National Park!
About… Schiermonnikoog National Park
This tiny National Park is located north of Friesland and Groningen. It is the last Wadden Island. Car-free and with only one village, also called Schiermonnikoog and less than 1000 inhabitants, it can be called quiet here. This is one of the major assets of this National Park. Nowhere do you hear environmental noises such as highways, airplanes, machines. Lovely!
In addition, 300 species of birds and 500 species of plants live there. It is truly a hotspot for bird watchers.
The visitor center has just been renovated and is located in the center of the small village. Here you will find all kinds of information about the island, the Wadden Sea and about walks and activities. You can go to the Westerplas on the west side of the island. Many birds such as cormorants and spoonbills nest here. You can go to the Kobbeduinen, a rough area on the east side of the island. You can discover the beautiful village with old fishermen’s houses or you can go to the beach and the lighthouses. Plenty of options!
My humble opinion
We have seen a large part of the island by cycling a route of about 20 kilometers. You can find this route on the website of the tourist office. On the boat from Lauwersoog you immediately experience a wonderful holiday feeling. Once on the island we follow the white cycle paths. There are almost no highways and virtually no traffic. That’s really nice if you’re walking or cycling. The absence of the noises associated with traffic is also nice.
Besides the fact that there is virtually no traffic, there are also virtually no signs. The National Park has deliberately chosen this. The posts and mushrooms that are there are low to the ground. In this way they do not clutter up the landscape and view. Then you may think that is necessary… but it does offer a nicer picture and it is nice and quiet. What we did miss was a National Park sign. There are a few World Heritage signs but nowhere a National Park sign. We regret that. It seems as if Schiermonnikoog is not proud or happy to be a National Park! We inquired at the Visitor Center and they also indicated that there is no sign and that it is not necessary.
We found Schiermonnikoog really worth it. There is a nice atmosphere on the island. There is plenty to see and do to entertain you for several days or just enjoy the tranquility. But one day, like we did, is fine too. You get a good impression of the island.
We start at the ferry dock and cycle east to the Oostenlijke Kwelders and Kobbeduinen. You can walk a lot in this area. When we are there it is breeding season, so we will come back after July, because then it is allowed again.
We make a small tour to the Cape Willemsduin and from here we have a view of the area. This Cape was previously used to warn skippers. Then there was a fire. We see many different birds such as a pheasant and here and there a hare.
We cycle further to the beach, the Oosterstrand, where we enjoy a lovely walk along the high tide line. This is the widest beach. Despite it being Sunday afternoon and quite a lot of people on the road, it doesn’t feel crowded anywhere. The wind in our hair, the salty air of the sea. Nice! Then we have lunch at the beach bar Marlijn. This is real vacation!
The red lighthouse
The image of the red lighthouse on Schiermonnikoog is famous. This lighthouse was built in 1853 and is still in use. It is beautifully situated between the dunes.
Tour through the forest
After the visit to the lighthouse we make a detour through the forest. We cycle on lovely quiet paths and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
At the Westerplas we do not see much of the water at first. The bike path is a short distance away. At the bird hide we see cormorants and spoonbills and various ducks, such as the shoveler. It is busy there, the birds fly to and fro, they are busy with their nest.
After a short visit to the village we take the ferry back to Lauwersoog. You can easily spend the night here. There is a large beautiful campsite in the dunes, Seedune or you can rent a cottage. If we stay longer next time, I would also like to go mudflat walking or go out on the Wadden Sea in a boat. We could already see the seals lying on the sandbanks from the ferry.
This time we went back to the camping It Dreamlân, in Kollumerpomp. This is a nature camping site about a fifteen minute drive from the ferry terminal. A good starting point if you also want to visit the Lauwersmeer National Park, for example. If you want to know more about the accommodations, take a look at that page. If you want to know more about the visits to the other National Parks, click through to this page.