Great little island, a short ferry away from the mainland.
Easily walkable, we took a bus into the main village and hiked around from there. There are quite a few restaurants around, so whenever you are hungry and thirsty there should be something nearby!
Seals can be visible from the beach, and there is a German bunker and Allies cemetery to explore.
The village is adorable and full of historic houses.
This time we just went for one day and decided to take one bike with us and rent another. When you get of the boat there is a bike rental station at the Veerdam.
Here you can rent a bike from april to october which saves you the costs of a bus ticket.
Prices start at € 5 per day and € 17,50 for a week.
So this might be the best places if you directly want to start biking around the island.
But for me the quality of the bikes is less then the company i wrote about earlier. I had two bikes who both had wobly pedals and one of them had a terrible saddle. I know that i won't rent here again the bikes are nice if your planning not to use the bike that much, else don't go here.
The company also has a location in the Village.
Schiermonnikoog is probably most famous for its beach as it is so extremely broad. Depending on the tides the beach can go from broad to endlessly broad! It took me quite a while to walk all the way from the dunes towards the waterline. In summertime it is great to just be lazy and find a nice spot on the beach to do some sunbathing or take a dip in the water. In all other seasons a walk along the beach is a perfect thing to do. Imagine a fresh sea breeze blowing in your face, the sound of the seagulls, the warmth of the sunshine, the taste of salt in the air, the calming sound of the water washing ashore and lazily strolling along the waterline and searching for some seashells..... Perfect huh? I think so anyway :-) A word of warning maybe is to NOT put your feet in the water so early in the season. Hahaha, it was fun doing so, but brrrrr, the water is still very cold!
It's great to bicycle on the island and to stop from time to time to enjoy the view. And one of the views not to miss is at the "Bunker Wasserman". This bunker dates back to World War II and used to be part of the Atlantic Wall. Nowadays the bunker is transformed into a viewpoint, giving a great opportunity to look out over the surrounding landscapes on top of a dune.
If you didn't take a bike there are 3 places on the island where you can rent bikes. But be on time because the bikes do sell out sometimes. We rented or bikes at a new rentabike place they had great new bikes with seven speeds and rollerbrakes.
When you run flat just return your bike and they swap them with another bike free off charge..
friday 14.30 u - monday 10.00 u adult € 11,- childrens € 8,- seat / bikebags € 2,-
ma 14.30 u - vr 10.00 u adult € 15,- childrens € 11,- seat / bikebags € 3,-
vr 14.30 u - vr 10.00 u
za 14.30 u - za 10.00 u adult € 17,50 childrens € 14,- seat / bikebags € 3,50
extra day adult € 2,50 childrens € 2,- seat / bikebags € 0,50
But they also have daily rental available.
On some parts of the island you can still see the "living dunes". Charactaristic for this landscape that it is always changing. Sand is gathering blown together by the wind, creating new little dunes, or increasing already existing ones. On other places holes are created because the wind hollows out this area by blowing away the sand. It's fascinating to see landscape being created in this way and knowing on a next visit it will all look different again.
Seeing the pheasant was fun, but the one bird I remember best of all is the seagull and especially its sound. Yes, I know, this sounds crazy, a seagull doesn't sing so particularly well and it makes a sound that could be very well described as screeking. The high pitched noise carries far and long and isn't easy on the ears....
But for me it is like music to my ears: I associate this sound with the coastal area of The Netherlands and most of all I think about my trip to Schiermonnikoog: memories of a walk on the beach, taking the ferry, bicycling through the dunes, the fresh seabreeze blowing in my face, salty air of the sea, a moment of relaxation, of being away from it all pop into my mind. And every time I see this photo, I hear the seagull in my head and I am there.... for just a few seconds, back on Schiermonnikoog, with my love Åke and my family. Beautiful memories of a wonderful times.
The woods are an area not to be missed on your bicycle trip, as they make a lovely change to the dunes. The woods were not originally in this area, but are relatively new. These conferous woods were planted around 1920 by the Count of Bernstorff. The trees grow poorly on the island though, due to the hard wind and salty sea, so they never lived up to their expectations and economical use. It's a lovely area now though, very popular among an increasing number of forest birds on the island.
It was in this wooded area that I almost bicycled over a pheasant. Luckily (for me and probably for the pheasant as well, lol) the pheasant quickly made room on the bicycle path for me to pass by. I couldn't let this opportunity slip by though to make a brake for it and make a quick photo.
The island is home to many birds and it is not surprising that the island has been declared a National Park in 1989. Although it has a National Park status, most of the park is open to the public all year round. There is one area though, east of the "Prins Bernhardweg" (= a name of a road) and north and east of the "Kooiweg", that is closed from the 15th of April to the 15th of July because thousands of birds come to this area to breed. This protected area is clearly marked by signs.
The surrounding of the lighthouse is typical for the part of the island: dunes, overgrown with long grass and the occassional shrub and small tree. The lighthouse is located close to the village, so there are still quite a few houses scattered around. Of course the landscape wouldn't be complete without a winding bicycle path to make it possible to explore the area. And as everywhere else on the island: somewhere in the distance you can see the sea :-)
I love this island and I tried to capture the atmosphere of the island with this photo. It has now become one of my favourites, proudly hanging on my wall, always bringing me in a wonderful vacation mood when I look at it. The main part of the island is natural landscape : dunes, beaches, woods and also shallows and a polder. On the rest of this page I'll show you a bit more of all that.
The thing I love about this island, is that there are no cars allowed. The only ones that are allowed to use a cars are the island residents. So in fact it means no traffic at all on the island, except for the bicycles. It's really a paradise for people that love to make a relaxing bicycle trip or enjoy hiking.
Along on the bicycle trails you can see this little "mushroom" shaped signs. In Dutch we call these signs the "paddestoel" signs which translates into "mushroom" signs. These signs are quite common in The Netherlands and give road directions to bicycles. On every crossing you can find one in Schiermonnikoog which makes it hard to get lost. They are all in Dutch so knowing some Dutch words might come in handy..... I just noticed that these signs are written in a lot of Dutch, lol, I never realized that before!
So here we go, a quick lesson in vacation Dutch:
Dorp = Village
Vuurtoren = Lighthouse
Strand = Beach
Badstrand = bathing area (beach)
Duinen = dunes
Rechts = to the right
Links = left
Bos = forest
When you are feeling lost and you don't trust your Dutch language skills you can always take the easy way out: just ask for directions from the first person passing by. Almost all Dutch people speak quite good English and are willing to help you find your way around.
And just in case you wondered... I didn't get lost! lol :-) I know I do that sometimes, but with a map with me, three great guides and these mushroom shaped signs, there was no way that even I could get lost ;-)
This is the second lighthouse of Schiermonnikoog that is located more inland. This is the lighthouse that is not in use like a lighthouse anymore, so it was made into a watertower instead.
If you really want you to, you can bicycle to the tower....although it is actually a walking path, so maybe I shouldn't reccommend this ;-) A little warning though: iIt's quite the climb getting uphill as the tower is located on top of a dune!
The structure that dominates the island, and can be seen from far away, is the lighthouse. In 1853 there were two lighthouses build on Schiermonnikoog. When seen from a ship, the lights of the two lighthouse coincided, the shipper could sail inbetween the sandbanks from the 'Wadden sea' to the 'North sea'. But over time the sandbanks moved and made one of the lighthouses obsolete.
Maybe some of you that have been to the island might not recognize the lighthouse right away, but that's because the lighthouse was painted in this cheerful red colour in 1998.
The island hasn't always been here, and certainly not the way it looks these days! The islands here in the north part of The Netherlands are constantly on the move. Many islands have been formed in this region and overtime have disappeared again due to the tides and the influence of the sea. The island of Schiermonnikoog has existed now for over a 1000 years although the size and shape have changed a lot in the course of time. The oldest part of the present island is only about 800 years old.
People have been forced to move around on the island adjusting to the 'wandering' spirit of the island. A good example of this is when the largest village on the island in the year 1725 fell prey to drifting sand and the advancing sea and had to be abandoned. The population moved to a new village, the present-day village of Schiermonnikoog (see previous tip for photos of the village).