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14 fun facts about the Wadden area

The Wadden Sea region has a special history and interesting facts. Maybe you’ve visited one of the islands before and chuckled at finds from the sea in someone’s personal collection. Or visited one of the nature centers and saw seals up close. The Wadden Sea area is a vast and extensive nature reserve. Below we list the 14 most interesting, funny and interesting facts for you.

Did you know that….

1. In most places in the Wadden Sea a Boeing 747 will rise more than 8 meters above the water.

A Boeing 747 can only sink in a few places in the Wadden Sea. For the rest it sticks out 8 meters above the water and you can still wave out of the window after a crash. On average, the Wadden Sea is only 11.8 meters deep at high tide. So at low tide you can just take the slide. So if you take a good dive from a nice boat and you can hold your breath for 2 seconds touch the bottom directly.

In ‘the Marsdiep’, the stretch of water between Texel and Den Helder, where the North Sea and the Wadden Sea meet, there is an enormous pit. So you don’t want to crash there. It is not for nothing that this one bears the name ‘Hels deur’ (Hell’s door). In this pit, touching the bottom is a bit tricky. At high tide it is 45 meters deep here. The deepest point of the Wadden area.

2. The highest point in the wadden region is as high as 2250 Euro coins.

There has never been anyone who managed to put 2250 Euro coins on top of each other, but still it is so. The highest point of the entire wadden region is on Sylt, the largest German Wadden Island. The top of the dunes is 52 meters above sea level and that equals about 2250 Euro coins.

The beach of Sylt with the highest dunes of the Wadden Sea region

By the way, Sylt is a peninsula nowadays. It is connected to the mainland by a dam. How many coins you need to recreate this dam from ‘Schleswig-Holstein’ on the mainland to Sylt at high tide has never been calculated. Do you want to be the first?

3. The number of ships that sail the Wadden Sea annually could form a loop that goes around the earth 40 times.

On the Wadden Sea mainly small pleasure yachts and traditional sailing ships sail. The number of ships passing through the 6 large locks in the wadden region is counted every year. This number is around 100,000. Actually, that doesn’t say much as there are quite a few daredevils sailing in through the sea channels on their self rigged ships There are no known numbers of these.

Above the islands is another story. Cargo ships such as the MSC Zoe use that route frequently. MSC Zoe lost 340 containers and junk like rubber bath ducks still wash ashore on the various Wadden beaches.

Approximately 250,000 ships pass the Dutch part of the North Sea each year. It has therefore been agreed by the governments of the Netherlands and Germany that ships carrying hazardous substances or cargo must take the northernmost route, which is furthest from the Wadden Islands.

4. If you pile up all the shipwrecks, they will rise above Mount Everest.

There are more than 1200 shipwrecks on the bottom of the Wadden Sea. Due to the fierce currents in many places in the Wadden Sea area, many ships were either carried under a thick layer of sand when they went down or, after a while, covered under a thick layer of sand and [nog] were not discovered.

Throughout the centuries, a whole collection of different ships has eroded around the Wadden Sea alone. From tree trunk boats from prehistoric times to viking ships and from VOC ships to complete steamships and submarines.

No wonder that the Wadden area has been declared an archaeological treasure chest. The entire maritime history of the Netherlands can be found on or under the bottom of the Wadden Sea. If we re-introduce the prohibition, all this will surface again. But then with the necessary aged bottles of rum.

Not only a cultural treasure chest. All those wrecks are also biodiversity hotspots. Here you sometimes find very different life than on the surrounding sandy soil.

5. People have been living on the Wadden Islands for more than 1 million days.

Long before our era people lived on the Wadden Islands. It looked a bit different then as we know it now. Until well into the 8th century A.D. people lived on mounds to keep their feet dry. Rain boots as we see them now were not yet in fashion.

The first written evidence of habitation, when the islands were slightly more northerly than now, dates from roughly the Middle Ages. Although this varies per island. People think that Vlieland is largely made by human hands and also Texel only knows the agricultural land as today by the help of man.

6. The wadden region is about the same size as 500,000 soccer fields.

If you like playing soccer, you still don’t want to take up the challenge of running all over the wadden region. That wouldn’t be smart without flippers or boots. The whole area is more or less 500,000 soccer fields and you rarely encounter a goal.


In total, the wadden region is over 500 kilometers long and 310,000 hectares in size, covering 30% of the Dutch coast, 20% of the Danish coast and 60% of the German coast. There are 50 islands and many large sandbanks in the area. For the real soccer fanatics … here you are always offside and you can only score cockles.

7.TVTASRRNBJNBLSWNPNHASLHKMAGNSTHRMFLK is the a mnemonic to remember all the islands in a row

Say that one after the other in one breath! In the entire Wadden Sea area you will find a total of 37 islands, most of which are also inhabited and accessible for visitors. There are also more and more oversized sandbanks that are no longer flooded at high tide and gradually earn the title of uninhabited island. If you count them all, the Wadden Sea area has a total of 50 islands. In the Netherlands alone we have 14. Below you’ll find a list of all of them for you.

Dutch Wadden Islands:

5 Inhabited: Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog

3 Uninhabited: Rottumer plate, Rottumer eye and the Noorderhaaks, also called the Raging sphere.

‘Razende bol’, one of the uninhabited Dutch islands

7 Oversized sandbanks: Reef, the Englishman’s plate, Simonszand, Zuiderduintjes, Richel and Griend

German Wadden Islands:

15 inhabited: Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekeroog, Wangerooge, Neuwerk, Pellworm, Nordstrand, Hallingen, Amrum, Föhr, Sylt.

Uninhabited: Lütje Hörn, Kachelotplate, Memmert, Mindener-Oldoog, Alte Mellum, Großer Knechtsand, Nigehörn, Scharhörn, Trischen en onbewoonde Halligen

Danish Wadden Islands:

3 Inhabited: Rømø, Mandø, Fanø

Sunset on the Danish island of Rømø

2 Uninhabited: Langli, Koresand

8. All permanent islanders consume approximately 1 million liters of drinking water every day.

That’s without the tourists walking around for a day or on(sailing) vacation. Then you come to a multiple of this in high season. The Wadden Islands have a total of more than 81,000 inhabitants. Divided over the 23 inhabited islands.

The literally and figuratively green water treatment plant on Vlieland

The island with the most inhabitants is the German Sylt, 21,000 people call this their home. In the Netherlands, Texel is the island with the largest population. Almost 14,000 people live here. Not surprisingly, Texel is the largest island with the most habitable surface.

9. Only the Danish Wadden Islands do not have lighthouses.

Only the Dutch and German islands havelighthouses. Schiermonnikoog even has two. In Germany there are also a whole bunch, 18 to be precise. They love them.

Strangely enough, there are no lighthouses at all on the Danish islands. This has to do with the location of the islands. This is not only because there was little shipwreck or nobody knows how to light such a light in a tower. The islands are avoided by traffic on the North Sea and Wadden Sea.

It may also have something to do with the fact that the Dutch manual of how a lighthouse works has never been translated into Danish. Ikea seems to have tried it once, but some screws were missing and then they gave up. That’s probably why there are no Wadden Islands in Sweden. Før Tür Brînna doesn’t sound so good either.

10. Nobody knows exactly how many lost tourists visit the Wadden Islands.

The Wadden Islands are very popular, both with tourists in their own country as well as those from outside the borders. But there are also many lost tourists.

For example, the Dutch Wadden Island is very popular with our Eastern neighbors. This is mainly due to the difference with their own islands. Although they are also known for their wide beaches and rugged nature, they do not have the cozy houses and villages that are so characteristic of the Dutch islands.

About how many tourists come to the German and Danish islands every year there is no rope to tie up. There are quite a few of them, although the islands to the east of the Dutch are particularly suitable for hikers and German-speaking nature lovers. The coasts are long and wide and the few villages very quiet.

Of course this also applies to the Dutch Wadden Islands, but these islands attract a wider public and the villages are often more lively. This is also because the islanders in the Netherlands have the most stores and restaurants per person.

Terschelling, for example, is visited by hundreds of young people every year. They often hide from the stray tourist behind self-built walls of beer crates on campsites such as ‘de Appelhof’. There they strive to have a structural and at least a first hangover.

Not that this bothers you when you come for your rest and want to celebrate your slowtravel vacation. Enough space for everybody luckily.

11. Daisies have a hard life on the Wadden Islands

There is a richness of species as it is so beautifully called of up to 10,000 different species of plants and animals that live in the Wadden Sea area. That’s quite a lot when you consider how hard it must be to survive in an area with such extreme differences every few hours. There is mainly salt but also brackish water to be found and whole stretches of sea lie dry for hours at low tide.

Wildflowers on Texel, Photo P. Seibt

Not the easiest environment if you’re a daisy. This biodiversity makes for a fantastic area where you can see everything from rugged dune landscapes to vast forests, heathland and unique salt marshes.

12. No one can list all locally brewed Wadden Island beers by heart.

There is AT LEAST one brewery !!! on every Wadden Island! How do they do it? Where do they get the time and the water from? More than 40 different certified beers are brewed on the Dutch islands in 6 different breweries. We do not count what is brewed illegally by individuals and seabees.

Beer from the Brewing Dock

Often use is made of purified dune water or even fermented with the berries of the Sea Buckthorn, the orange berry. You don’t get more special beer than that. There is no better souvenir to give to your best ‘friend’.

How special it is that all the islands have their own brewery. One even more successful than the other. You can order theTexel Skuumkoppe up to the Sint Pietersberg in Maastricht. This is one of the most successful local beers and an extremely successful export product from the islands to the mainland.

13. You can pedal 350 kilometers against the wind on the Wadden Islands.

On the Dutch Wadden Islands alone you can find 350 kilometers of bike trails where you can cruise with your tough road bike, solex, tandem, cargo bike, mountain bike or scooter on the way to one of the many beach bars.

Headwind is a bit of a thing. You can’t order it. It is free of charge. Anytime, anywhere. You will, if you choose, never plow on the same path. The wind does that for you. But don’t worry. The paths are narrow and getting lost is difficult. In addition, it is really worth defying some wind along the way through all those unique dunes.

14. If you take a beer every half hour in every beach bar on the Dutch Wadden Islands you would have an alcohol permillage of 4.41%.

A pub crawl along all the Dutch beach bars in the wadden region is strongly discouraged. It would give you a (lethal) alcohol permillage of 4.41%. There are a total of 27 beach tents. Fortunately divided over the five Dutch Wadden Islands. So a well-deserved drink is in it after a bike ride over all those miles of headwinds.

This post is also available in: Dutch German