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What's not amazing about Terschelling is that the island with all its different villages is one municipality, nor that it is, from the western direction, the third inhabited island with a total beach length of 30 km and over 70 km cycle paths. Those facts don't get you into the Guinness Book of Records. But maybe there's someting about the beach that does: at low tide it's about 1 km wide.
"Fancy going for a swim,dear?"
"No thanks, really don't feel like going for a 20 minute walk!"
In short, lots of open space there on the beach of Terschelling and if you carry on walking long enough in the eastern direction, you'll finally end up at the cutest Dutch beach pavillion: the Heartbreak Hotel.

Seaways around Terschelling

Terschelling: Satellite picture (click to enlarge)


The complexity of sailing the Wadden Sea is best illustrated by the satellite picture above. Until a few years ago the port of West (Terschelling) could be directly reached from the south (=Harlingen, IJsselmeer, Texel) through the courses Vliestroom and Schuitengat. Unfortunately the Schuitengat silted up and can only be crossed at extreem high water conditions. So what's left is the route Vliestroom -> West Meep -> Slenk and finally a right turn through the last piece of the Schuitengat. This route is kept open to secure all trade traffic to and from the island.
The silting up of the Schuitengat only means that it takes at least half an hour longer to reach West, but also that the crossing from Terschelling to Vlieland lasts twice as long: three hours instead of the usual one and a half.

The dependency on the tide is of utmost importance for the crossing from Terschelling to Ameland, where we have to deal with what we call wantij, the area where the tidal currents meet. As the picture shows, there's no trench over there, which means it can only be crossed at high tide. So a slight miscalculation could result in being stuck in the sand for about twelve hours until the next high tide.
Next obstacle on the way to Ameland is nature reserve the Blauwe Balg. A resting place for seals that may only be passed three hours before and two hours after high tide. Offenders face at least a 600 euro fine.
There's one bright spot in all this, apart from the adventure and the scenic journey: if you make it passed the wantij on time, you'll be also in time at the Blauwe Balg.


There's the Brandaris!

From whatever side the island of Terschelling is approached and at whatever time of day, the first visible landmark is always lighthouse the Brandaris. Not only in the physical sense but also on the radio: since a few years the Brandaris is resposible for the safety and coordination of all traffic on the Wadden Sea. All vessels are compelled to report where they're going and with how many crew and passengers.

  Terschelling: Lighthouse Brandaris with on the foreground the Groene Strand and to the left beach pavillon The  Walvis (click to enlarge)

West the best

The village of West is the center of all ectivities on the island. Mainly of course because the only real port of the island is located there and all commercial activities start and end there. Furthermore it has the cutest pubs (Amsterdamsche Koffijhuis, De Walvis), the best restaurants (Zeezicht, Caracol) and the nicest Chinese (Kwo). And then of course there's the annual internationally acclaimed cultural festival Oerol (Frisian for Everywhere) which, even though it takes place all over the island, has its epicenter in West.

  Terschelling: Amsterdamsche Koffijhuis (click to enlarge)

Cycling on Terschelling


The Wadden Sea is, just like the IJsselmeer, an ideal sailing area because it's (nearly) always windy with directions varying almost continuously between southwest and northwest. Fun for yachtsmen, but less fun for cyclists. Especially on these islands that - with the exception of Texel - are all geographically west-east orientated. So it's always headwind and tailwind. As for Terschelling, a cycle tour from West always starts eastbound (tailwind), so better be prepared for headwind on the way back.

  Terschelling: 70 km cycle path (click to enlarge)

Nature reserves on Terschelling


Terschelling has the most elongated and probably the most beautiful nature reserve, the Boschplaat. At the same time it's probably also the most inaccessible one, because it's closed for each and everything from March till the end of the breeding season, which is mid August.

But there's a terrfic alternative, even two: the Noodsvaarder and the Kroonpolders, both accessible via wonderful footpaths from the Groene Strand in West.

  Terschelling: Nature reserve Noordsvaarders (click to enlarge)