The Wadden Sea is an area off the northern coast of Holland extending towards Germany and Denmark. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a wildlife sanctuary and a bird watcher’s paradise. Every year, millions of migratory birds make use of this area.
A few years back, we had a chance to visit Lauwersmeer, the area facing the Wadden sea. This area used to be open to the Wadden sea. However, to prevent flooding, a dam has been constructed and eventually a freshwater landscape has evolved which also became home to numerous animals and birds.
You can spend the whole day in Lauwersmeer walking along the trails, spotting birds, insects and wild flowers and plants. There is a visitor center where you can learn more about the area. There, they provide telescopes for bird watching. There are also recreational facilities in the area – accommodation options for longer stays, restaurants and playgrounds.
Off the coastline, beyond the mud flats, several islands flank the Wadden area. One of these islands is Terschelling. Last summer we visited Terschelling along with our friends. The ferry to the island departs in Harlingen which is about an hour and a half away (drive) from Groningen. The ferry ride is about 45 minutes.
It was fairly calm the day we visited. We were told though that it wasn’t normally like that so we were lucky with the weather. A bus goes from the port to the beaches around the island. The island was a bit large for walking so the bus was handy. We stopped at the first beach – it was stunning! The sea was so inviting we couldn’t stop the kids from taking a dip. There is also a restaurant at the beach front with a small outdoor play area (swings and slides).
In the afternoon, we took the bus back to the port (the only bus!) and hiked the hilly part of the island overlooking this view. Reminds me of the view from the Prague castle plus the sea!
It is also worth mentioning that there are initiatives to care for and rehabilitate sick seals in the Wadden area. In the village of Pieterburen, in the northeastern part of the Netherlands, there is actually a Seal Rehabilitation and Research Center rescuing seals injured or trapped by fishing nets or sick from pollution. This is a hospital for sick seals. When the seals recover they are released back to the sea.
We took the children to the center not only to see the cute seals but also for them to understand that nature is so fragile – and the most vulnerable are these animals. It requires efforts such as these to keep this ecosystem sustainable for us and for the future generations to enjoy.