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Enjoy the dunes of the Netherlands

Dunes are the natural protection for the so-called low lands. You don’t see them in holiday resorts like Thailand, Mexico or Brazil. This is because the elevated sand plains are ‘supposed’ to protect lower-lying land from the sea. This is how nature works.

But with these raised sand plains a particularly colourful and diverse flora and fauna blossoms. The Dutch dunes are a wonderful example of this.

Imagine; walking for miles without seeing anyone. But then surrounded by thousands of visible special shrubs, trees and plants and many sometimes ‘invisible’ birds and other animals. You can see them from silence, but during a wild walk the animals quickly hide but the colourful surroundings remain. These are the Dutch dunes with an unprecedented diversity of life.

The various dune landscapes on the Wadden Islands

Even if you are not a birdwatcher or do not spend your free hours with a plant encyclopaedia under your arm, the Dutch dunes can be a very attractive place. They are a beautiful backdrop if you love photography, are looking for a special yoga place or want to take a break from a busy working week.

The Dutch dunes are far from dull. You have cosy campsites, many pubs and local restaurants are within walking distance. As a dog owner, you and especially your dog will also get your heart set on this. Bello can sniff around and run for hours while you enjoy a fresh local coffee.

On your own, with your sweetheart or with your friends, you don’t need anything or anyone else to be able to enjoy yourself in the only hills that we have in the Netherlands You imagine yourself alone in the world and you always have a lighthouse in the background to orientate yourself.

Let yourself be carried away by the wind and the sand and follow the small winding paths. Some will lead you to places you won’t find a second time, while others will take you to small cosy beach bars. Maybe you stumble over a bunker, left over from the Second World War. Here and there they can still be found and visited.

Unique dunes on Texel

The dunes of Texel are a well known place, because of the unique variety of vegetation and life that can be found there, they have been proclaimed a National Park.

A must see if you want to enjoy the most beautiful things the Dutch dunes have to offer.

The highest dune of the Netherlands on Vlieland

Vlieland consists for the most part of dunes and has the highest dune in the entire Dutch Wadden area, the Vuurboetsduin is 36 metres high. The ultimate place for the lighthouse

Impressive dune landscape on Terschelling

On Terschelling they may not have the highest dune, although it doesn’t make much difference. But the most impressive dune, it’s called the Noordvaarder. You gasp for breath by the time you are up but the view is priceless.

Protecting dunes on Ameland

The Hollumer Dunes on Ameland, protect the villages of Hollum and Ballum by towering high above them. If you arrive with your yoga mat under your arm or for a wonderful beach ride on horseback, you can’t miss them.

The widest beaches and dunes of Schiermonnikoog

It is a short walk if you want to reach the dunes on Schiermonnikoog from the surf. But it is very worthwhile. Most of the dune area is freely accessible and in addition to the enormously wide beaches, a walk through this landscape is a feast for the eyes, for example during a summer holiday in the Netherlands.

The Dutch dunes are older than the road to Rome

Most dunes in the Netherlands are already thousands of years old. They played a major role in the creation of the unique Wadden Sea region in the Netherlands. This special landscape can be found along the entire coastline and on the Wadden Islands. A graceful border dune landscape of up to 250 km long, which protects our little country from flooding.

That is about 1% of the total surface area of the Netherlands and 75% of all our Dutch plant species can be found on that one percent. Not only do you find a lot of plants, grasses, flowers and shrubs in the dunes, but more than 140 different breeding birds see this as their home.

What grows and flourishes in the Dutch Dunes

Maybe you yourself have struggled with a lilo under your arm and against the wind through the dunes on your way to the beach and the sea. Then you know that dunes can consist of different rows, you hope to finally see the sea after every hill. These different hills in a row make the dune landscape one of the insanely special nature areas on the Wadden Islands.

At the back, furthest from the beach, are the oldest dunes. Here, well sheltered from the wind, totally different flowers and plants grow than on the youngest dunes directly on the beach.

In spring it looks purple and pink of the flowers, in summer bright orange through the berries of the sea buckthorn and in autumn the dunes get their rough, salty, green and grey appearance.

Famous Terschellinger Cranberries

The Cranberry grows only on Terschelling and in the Northeast of America. The myth tells of beachcomber Pieter Sipkes-Cupido who around 1840 found a large barrel washed ashore in the dunes of Terschelling and thought he had run into an enormous supply of booze. He opened the barrel on the spot and only berries rolled out, which was rather disappointing! Upset, he kicked them around and left the barrel behind. Birds loved these berries and spread them all over the island.

Todaythe Terschellinger cranberries are famous. They are still picked by hand by a local farmer and processed into cheesecake, tea, bitters and wine.

The pure Cranberry juice that is made here has even been awarded the EKO quality mark and is an example of one of the most famous local and organic products.

The best ways to visit the dunes on the Wadden Islands

You can book a guide of Natuurmonumenten or bring an online guide on your phone with extensive information about various adventurous walks through the dunes. This is if you feel like brushing up on Latin, because with 1500 different plants and flowers you’ll come across along the way, you’ll be busy for a while.

Visit the dunes during a sailing trip

If you join us on a sailing trip, you can rest assured that the crew will be able to show you the best places to enjoy unique seascapes undisturbed. The skipper often also knows the shortest way to the local brewery that is located on Vlieland, for example, in the middle of the dunes.

How to get to the Wadden Islands

You can take the ferry from Harlingen harbour in the direction of Vlieland and/or West-Terschelling. Or make the short crossing from Den Oever to Texel with the Teso. Schiermonnikoog and Ameland are also easily accessible from Groningen by ferry from Wagenborg.

If you come from around Amsterdam, you can consider sailing on an authentic sailing ship from the harbour of Enkhuizen. On a multi-day sailing holiday you can for example visit one of the five Wadden Islands and dunes, while the ship is your sailing holiday home.

Take a look at our homepage or contact us for the possibilities.

This post is also available in: Dutch German