So how did the island get its name? To most the name sounds strange: Schiermonnikoog, hahaha, and yes, I know.... it's impossible to pronounce! It's even difficult to describe how to pronounce it, so I skip giving that a try. So let me focus on the easy part and tell you how this island got its name.
In the fifteenth century the island was administered by Cistercian monks and these.monks wore grey clothing. And the island is named after these monks: 'schier' means 'grey', 'monnik' means 'monk', and 'oog' means 'island', so together it forms "Schier-monnik-oog" or "Grey-monks-island".
In the photo you can see the statue in the village centre of a Cistercian monk.
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 ;-)
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).
The absolute best way to explore this island is by bicycle. The places I've shown you so far (the village, lighthouse and watertower) are quite close to each other and easily reached by foot. But if you would like to see more of Schiermonnikoog, the bicycle is your best option.
Everywhere on the island are little bicycle paths which lead you through the beautiful dunes and landscapes of the island. Don't worry about bringing a bike yourself, as you can rent a bicycle on the island (see my transportation tips). But if your not in the mood for an active vacation, you can also be lazy and lay down on the beautiful and huge beach :-)
Good morning everyone! It is still early morning, hahaha, hence the sleepy look on my face. So why am I up so early, and a more important question, why am I telling you all this to you? The answer is quite easy, today I am going on a nice daytrip to the island of Schiermonnikoog and I wondered if you would care to join me on my trip :-)
I see this confused look on your face and see you wonder "Schiermonnikoog"? What's that?? Schiermonnikoog is an island in front of the Dutch coast and it is one of my favourite daytrips in the Netherlands. It is a popular destination for the Dutch but I feel it is rather unknown abroad. So on this page I would love to show you a bit more of this little island and show you why it is worth the trip going here. So hop on the ferry! We are leaving in a few minutes......
Schiermonnikoog, or sometimes also called 'Schier' by the Dutch people, is a beautiful little island. The "Wadden islands" are at the north of The Netherlands and are a series of small islands in a row in front of the coast. Schiermonnikoog is the smallest inhabited Wadden Island. It is only 16 kilometres long an 4 kilometres wide and it has one village (which is also called Schiermonnikoog)
The photo you see here is taken from the ferry and you can see the island and the village of Schiermonnikoog. We are almost there! So grab your things and get ready to set foot on land! It's time to discover a bit more about this lovely little island.
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 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 :-)
The ferry crossing is a very enjoyable one and that alone is almost worth making this daytrip. It only takes 45 minutes to make the crossing from the mainland to Schiermonnikoog but the views are so nice and it is such a relaxing trip. You can sit inside, nice and cosy and warm and enjoy a cup of coffee and look through the windows enjoying the views.
But you can also go to the top deck, out in the open air, and enjoy the views from here. It's much colder out here, with the fresh sea breeze, but it is so much more enjoyable, hahaha, that's what I think anyway :-) Bring a nice thick sweater though, you might need it! Especially if you are travelling so early in the season like I did (early April). The sun is nice and warm already this time of year, but the winds are still quite cold.
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.
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!
Most likely the first stop you will make on the island is at the village of Schiermonnikoog. A comfortable way to get here is by taking the bus that waits in front of the ferry. The bus times are adjusted to the ferry times, so there is no waiting involved. It's only about 10 minutes by bus to the village.
The village itself is small but rather picturesque with lots of old houses, like the ones you can see in the photo. The village of Schiermonnikoog dates back to around 1760 and the house on the photo must have been one of the first because it dates back to 1759. There is not so much to do and see here, but nice for a lazy stroll. There are some shops scattered around in the little streets, mainly little tourist shops where you can buy postcards, some gifts or everything you need for your kids to have a great time on the beach.
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.
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.