The dike in front of the spa quarter and town centre has been terraced on two levels and turned into a promenade. The paved beach promenade above the main beach is everyone's favourite walkway for people-watching and being watched. The music pavillon and several cafes attract summer guests. Even for less mobile guests this promenade is easy to...more
The two beaches next to the town, Hauptstrand (main beach) and Südbad (Southern beach), are watched by life guards. Roofed beach chairs (Strandkörbe) are for hire. These beaches are obviously the most crowded. Nordstrand , the beach along the Northeast shore, is not watched. This part is less crowded. Here you face the open sea, the beach is...more
The Strandkorb is the typical German beach chair, made of basketwork, thus the name ( Korb = basket). Each Strandkorb seats two people. The back reclines. Foot rests can be pulled out. The cover protects you from the wind and/or the sun. Quite comfy and romantic. Strandkörbe can be rented from the little huts along the beach, either per day...more
The hotel quarter covers the dunes in the Northwest of the island between the main beach and the island train, round the new lighthouse and the Gezeitenland spa. Here the most expensive hotels and a large number of restaurants and cafes are to be found.Borkum became a popular upper class holiday resort in the late 19th century when people...more
Watching seals (Seehunde) is remarkably easy in Borkum. The sandbank right off the main beach is the favourite resting point of several dozens of them.When I went there were some 70 animals on the sandbank. Apologies for the bad quality of the photos, my zoom isn't good enough and the weather was dull.This sandbank is connected to the main beach...more
Bike trails take you all over the island, with the exception of the far Eastern part which is a nature reserve and has nothing but a few hiking paths. Since cars can't go everywhere and distances are quite long for hikes, a bike is the best way to get around and enjoy the different landscapes. Bike rentals are to be found at every second street...more
Since the conditions at the beach aren't inviting for swimming during a large part of the year, Borkum got a huge indoor swimming pool and spa. The pools are filled with real sea water but much warmer than the North Sea ever gets. Their attraction is the FlowRider - a water stream with artificial waves to surf on (boards provided).The fun part are...more
The mudflats between the islands and the mainland are part of hte Nationalpark Deutsches Wattenmeer, thus a protected nature reserve. The seemingly empty brown muddy sea bottom is home to a diversity of animals, from worms and molluscs to crabs, fish, birds and seals. To nature lovers, exploring this unique habitat at low tide is a must. Guided...more
Cute cafe in a side street of the old town center. You can also sit in the courtyard, weather permitting.
Favorite Dish: I recall a HUGE piece of yummy East Frisian eggnog and cream cake. Unfortunately I wasn't yet a VTer and had not yet learned to take photos of my food at those times;-)
The little pavillon on the promenade along the main beach is used for live music. Along the promenade you'll find some pubs and cafes. In summer this spot will be much busier than in September when I took the photo.
Bike rentals can be found, more or less, at every second street corner. Prices depend on quality and equipment of the bike - plain touring bike, number of gears, mountain bike, etc. Bikes can be rented per hour, per day, or long-term. The bicycle is the best means of transport to get around on the island. Cars face many limitations, bikes can go...more
The island of Borkum aims to be a suitable holiday destination for handicapped visitors and has taken quite some measures to enable access everywhere, including the beach. Borkum tourist office have published an information page about "accessible travel" on their website that covers all (hopefully all) essential points. If you have further...more
Ferries to Borkum depart from the German port of Emden and from the Dutch port of Eemshaven. Both are run by the same company.There are two options: the car ferry, which takes 2 hours from Emden, and the katamaran, which reaches Borkum within 1 hour. If you want to take your car you have to take the car ferry (Autofähre). The katamaran is much...more
Souvenir shops in the streets of the town offer all kinds of sea-related souvenirs - mostly silly, some plain kitsch, others quite funny. The fantasy of the producers is admirable. To be honest, I preferred window-shopping with my camera after hours instead of spending money - don't tell the shopkeepers...more
Almost every souvenir shop in Borkum provides these cups in different designs. Since the wind blowing in from the North Sea is always strong, even the tea cups are windswept. These crooked cups are known as "Sturmtassen" (storm cups) and usually decorated with 'windy' pictures. 5-6 €more
"Moin" or, if people feel an extraordinary desire to be communicative, "Moin moin", is the common greeting in the North of Germany. Visitors often wonder why people say "Good morning" throughout the whole day. No, that's a misunderstanding, it doesn't mean morning. "Moin" actually means nice, beautiful and is short for "moin Dach", a nice day. Thus...more
East Frisian Tea (Ostfriesentee) is a strong blend of black teas. Participating in a 'ceremonial' afternoon tea, there are a few things one should know. A local friend once gave me a lesson - here is what she taught me:East Frisian Tea is served with fresh cream (liquid, not whipped) and "Kandis" (rock sugar).Put some Kandis in your empty cup. The...more
The tides cause strong currents, especially round the Western tip of the island. The official swimming hours that are announced on the beaches, and when the life guards are there to watch, are always the times of rising and high tide.Observe the hours. When the tide is going out, swimming is not advised. The tidal current may drag you out to the...more
My favourite North Sea souvenir t-shirt depicts two bored seagulls sitting on poles at the beach. One says, "Shall we go and sh*t on tourists?", and the other says, "Great idea!!!"This seems to be a favourite hobby among seagulls indeed, and the effect is remarkable... Watch out when they are above you. Especially for those sitting on lantern poles...more
The weather at the North Sea coast is unreliable and changes quickly. The good news is that it usually doesn't rain for long. Bad news is that there can be rain and cold any day and any time of the year, combined with the everlasting strong wind. Bring rain gear - jacket with hood, in the winter half of the year also rain pants and wellies. And a warm sweater to wear underneath.
Umbrellas are completely useless and won't live long because of the wind.
The Frisian islands are constantly 'on the move'. Sand is washed away from their Western and Northern side and deposited further East. The map of the tidelands is undergoing a permanent change. You would not recognize the islands on a map that's 200 or 500 years old. The dunes serve as natural protection, but they alone are not sufficient. Since...more
The Wattwurm (lugworm, photo 2) is, in a way, the heraldic animal of the North Sea tidelands. These worm live in the tideland ground in a U-shaped tube. The head sucks in the soil, thus forming a little funnel, which is then digested and emitted by the rear end, forming those little worm-shaped piles (photos 1 and 3).Walking the tidelands you'll...more
Everywhere on the dikes you'll see flocks of sheep grazing. By keeping the grass short they are doing an important work for the protection of the coastline which no other animal could do. Sheep bite the grass off without tearing out the roots. Their little hooves do not cause holes in the turf. A dense and solid turf cover is important. Any hole...more
"There is no bad weather, there is only inappropriate clothing", as the locals say. The beaches and dikes can be walked in any kind of weather except real gales with flood danger. Strong wind, fresh cold salty air - that's North Sea feeling at its best. Have a hot drink afterwards. Locals recommend Grog (see separate tip).Do not forget to pack your...more
What I love most about the North Sea and the Wattenmeer, the tidelands, is the constant change with the tides. The sea and the beach is never the same. At high tide the waves reach the sandy beach. At low tide you can walk further out. Observe the water rising and falling, watch out for shells, birds, and all the other animals that live between...more
The Sanddorn (Sea Buckthorn) with its orange berries and slender greyish green leaves is a typical plant of the dunes. The berries contain a huge amount of vitamine C. They ripe in September. Pick one or two and try. The taste is rather sour, though not as bad as people told me, I actually liked them, but you won't want to eat many of them. The...more