Updated: Jan 3
The Netherlands owns some islands. Now don’t get too excited, these particular ones don’t have palm trees or crystal clear lagoons. Oh no, no. These bad boys are situated in the Wadden Sea. So you get to enjoy some crisp, cold North Sea air accompanied by flat farmland.
There are five inhabited islands. I visited two of them, Texel and Vlieland.
From Amsterdam, you can catch a train to Den Helder. From the train station, bus number 28 goes to the Teso ferry port (veerhaven), this bus is free of charge. The bus should line up with the ferry and mine did, although it was cutting it close. I’m one of those people who arrive 4 hours early at the airport so you can imagine I was sweating like a pig in the 14-degree weather when the bus driver failed to leave on time to the ferry port. I arrived 6 minutes before departure and after scanning my ticket (2.50 return, bought online) I walked straight on to the ferry. The ferry is quick and nice. There is a cafeteria on-board, loads of seating, and an outdoor area. It takes about 20 minutes with 10 minutes unloading. Once on Texel, depending on where you want to go, you can take bus 33 (which stops in Den Burg and De Koog only) or the Texel Hopper (which stops everywhere else but you need to reserve it an hour in advance) the Texel Hopper is 3 euros and so is bus 33. You can’t pay with cash, only by card on the bus. For the Texel Hopper, you can buy tickets online or in-person in the VVV Texel and probably other locations but I don’t know what they are. If you have a discount on your public transport OV it doesn’t count on Texel for some reason. So the 6-minute bus ride to Den Burg from the ferry, therefore, cost me 3 euros. I was not impressed. What did impress me was the dog situation on the island. It was a proper 10/10 for the number of doggies.
I rented a bike from Zegel Bikes. It was 8 euros for the whole day and you can drop it off after closing hours at 20:00. The guy wasn’t going to win the most charming person of the year awards any time soon but that was fine. Online, when I saw the price for the electronic bikes (17.00 euros), I thought what nut job would spend that much money on a bike rental? I assure you, I was singing a different tune when those 45 km/h winds started to pick up. I stayed at B&B de Gors and it was really nice. Sweet lady, good breakfast and comfy bed. Since I booked it through the official Texel website, I could pick up a discount book from the VVV Texel. I did but it was useless. There was a discount on bike rentals but only for the one near the ferry port so that didn’t help me at all. The rest of the discounts were for odd shops, which I never went into, or activities, which I did not participate in. I wanted to see as much of the island as possible in one day and from what I gathered, the south part didn’t have too much going on. This was confirmed with my eyes while looking out the bus window. My northern island route was more or less this:
Start: Den Burg
Waal en Burgerdijk
National Park- Duinen van Texel (dunes)
End: Den Burg
The dunes were by far the best part. You can’t ride your bike in them since it is only walking paths but the bike path weaves through the outer dunes and alongside them. You can park your bike and walk over the dunes to viewpoints like De Slufter.
Before I left, I packed a lunch and waited impatiently to find the perfect spot to eat it. It had been six hours since I created this food masterpiece, I needed to enjoy it at just the right moment. I finally decided to stop at the beach in Den Koog. I found a bench overlooking the sea. This is where it went horribly wrong. I unwrapped my cheese croissant and I look up to see some seagulls circling me. I hate birds, so I was extremely wary as these disgusting animals stared at me. I took a bite and eyed the bird closest to me. This continued until half of my croissant was gone. Then I decided to look at my phone as any person would do if they received a message. I could not have looked down for more than 4 seconds when that great beast swooped at me and smacked me in the face, wing tangled in hair as it attempted to grab my cheese croissant. I screamed a high pitch girly scream and people came running. I was frazzled. Some German tourists grabbed sticks off the ground and started swatting the air. It was a horrific scene. In the end, I had to throw out my half-eaten sandwich which saddened me so greatly that I will remember it for the rest of my days.
After the lighthouse area (where you can use the restaurant toilet for free) I followed the water to the east side of the island. There is a bike path the entire way. Unfortunately, this is where I really started to feel those 45 + km/h winds since there is no barrier like on the west dune side of the island. This side of the island is also more unnatural concrete instead of natural dunes. After Utopia, I thought I would high-tail it back to Den Burg because I thought I was going to fly off my bike like Dorothy in the tornado. Another unfortunate thing was that this route was open farmland where there were no trees to block the wind. I became quite cynical after passing a few e-bikers going in the opposite direction WITH the wind. I probably should have done a counter-clockwise bike route instead of clockwise but Frodo also should have trusted Samwise when he said he didn’t eat the lembas bread. We all make mistakes.
I meant to follow the eastern dijk more and see De Hoge Berg but it was not meant to be.
To get to Vlieland from Texel you can catch a small boat from the north end of the island. Make sure to book in advance if you want to do a day trip since it fills up quickly and it has a capacity of 60 people. Since I was in Den Burg and had no car, I ended up catching the Texel Hopper. The boat left at 10:45 and they ask they you be there 30 minutes before. So I phoned the Texel Hopper people and they suggested I catch the 08:14 bus from near my B&B to the Paal 33. They said that leaving at 09:14 would cut it too close. So I did as they suggested and I ended up leaving early since the Texel Hopper was there at 08:06. It arrived at 08:38 so I waited alone for over an hour before the boat company worker showed up and then finally people started arriving at 10:00. Maybe I could have caught the earlier Texel Hopper but to be honest I have no idea how this bus system works. It was like the Knight bus, speeding through the farm roads and stopping randomly when people wanted to get off. It didn’t follow a route so that’s why you need to arrange it at least an hour earlier. There are only 8 seats on the bus I think.
The boat to Vlieland was an event in itself. Let me note here that I get motion sickness. Remember those 45+ km/h winds? Well, they were there this fine day as well. I got on the boat and sat on the deck seats. I thought this isn’t so bad as we scuttled along the coast of Texel. Then we hit the open sea and I was greeted by a massive wave drenching me. The captain shouted for everyone to get inside the cover below. But I couldn’t go down the steps or I would get sick from the rocking so I waited on the steps and held on tight. Not to be dramatic but I felt like I was going to get thrown overboard. Water rushed past my feet in sandals, throwing me left and right. Lose boat items were skidding back and forth tempting to be launched into the open sea. Then we reached Vlieland 30 minutes later and it was fine. I saw some sea lions when we arrived. They were cute. Now, this is where it gets good. Since most of the southern half of Vlieland is completely sand, you get picked up in this massive yellow contraption that looks like the imperial (AT-AT) walkers from Star Wars. It has wheels over a meter wide. Then you ride over the sand for about 30 minutes until you reach a dune and the Posthuys (a hotel and restaurant). From the Posthuys, I took a bus to Oost- Vlieland. The main town on the island. The bus runs every hour. Instead of stopping at the ferry port on the north end of the town, you can stop at Dorp (town) in the south of the town. This way you save yourself going all over the place. Although it may be nice to see the rest of the island this way. The Oost- Vlieland town has some shops and restaurants. and you can walk along the water. This is when I started my 1.5-hour walk back to the Posthuys. I walked first to the lighthouse. They call it the highest lighthouse in the Netherlands but 1) there aren’t many to choose from and 2) it was on a hill so that’s what made it “high” but it’s actually just a stubby tower. You can climb up it for 3 euros (for adults) but I didn’t do that. I then walked a nice hiking path in the middle of the island. On the way back to Texel, the yellow sand bus was 30 minutes late because of the winds so I managed to just make my 19:08 Texel Hopper back to the ferry to Den Helder.
Overall, it was a swell trip but I recommend going when it’s decent weather or rent an e-bike if it’s windy. WOW never thought I would recommend that someone should spend more money on something but here I am!