2021 ... Another year consumed by Covid19 ... so what to do? The answer is simple, in order to avoid annoying rule changes and possible quarantaine or lockdowns I took this opportunity to go out and explore some not too far away lands that I 've always wanted to visit, by car this time! So after some browsing my eye fell on Texel! This Dutch island is part of the 'Waddeneilanden', a group of islands in the Northern Netherlands. For me it was about 3 hours to get to the ferry in Den Helder, 20 minutes on the local ferry and I was on the island of Texel where I had rented an AirBNB for a week.
Before you go!
Book your ferry ticket in advance, there is only one company sailing to this island from Den Helder, when you 're booked, the check-in process is automatic. You don't have to choose a time of sailing, just a date and it includes the ticket for the way back as well (www.teso.nl).
Parking ... when traveling by private car, nothing is more important than parking space, this can make or break your entire budget. Luckily Texel is very friendly to car travelers and has introduced a general parking ticket for the entire island (www.texelevignet.nl), certain areas are off limits for non residents but otherwise you can park anywhere on the island, the system works by license plate so you don't even have to display a ticket.
Weather ... remember that this is an island, surrounded by ... you guessed it ... WATER! The seas are mild around this area but currents can be strong, so when the beach isn't guarded ... don't go in the water too deep as the currents can easily drag you right out into the shipping lanes. Also remember that central Europe is unreliable in terms of weather, although summers can be very warm, sudden drops in temperature and increasing winds can arrive in a matter of hours, make sure to have good clothing to protect you from wind and rain, even in summer.
Seals ... there are several species of seals to be found around the island, although you have to be patient and determined to actually find them but do remember that these are wild animals and although not immediately dangerous, they can be easily disturbed so DON'T approach them, just enjoy viewing them from a distance, RESPECT wild animals in their natural habitat.
Lighthouse ... the icon of the island is the lighthouse, just as most museums it is always best to book this entry ticket in advance, for the lighthouse even more so as it already isn't that spacious and Covid19 has further restricted the number of people allowed per day inside the lighthouse.
Sheep ... there are about as many sheep as there are people on Texel, the sheep are part of the tradition and the landscape and visiting a sheep farm is highly recommended, book your ticket in advance in the sheep farm that we visited for a great day out at www.schapenboerderijtexel.nl.
Bike or Walk ... If you like riding your bike like most Dutch people ... after all ... The Netherlands is a country of bikes ... bring it to this island, if not ... hiking is the best alternative as the island is mostly pretty flat with nature all around you, if you bring a picknick and good shoes and clothing as well ... you 're set for the best experiences of your trip to Texel.
My story in short!
We left home in the early afternoon in September 2021 to drive about 3 hours to Den Helder. Dutch highways are very well maintained but there are a lot of speed limits and traffic jams, so it can take more time than anticipated to get to your destination, luckily we had plenty of time and a car full of food and drinks for underway. Finally in the late afternoon we arrived in Den Helder ferry terminal where I could just drive onto the waiting platform as the check-in process is fully automated. While waiting for the ferry we got a small meal from the shop and by the time we were back at the car, the ferry was coming in, offloading and reloading this ferry goes very fast as these are double-ended ferries so a few minutes later we could board the ferry. Once onboard you 're allowed to stay in the car or walk on deck or in the lounge with small shop and cafetaria. A very short time later we arrived on the Southern tip of the island of Texel. Minutes later we arrived in our AirBNB in Den Burg where we could park next to the property for unloading only and then had to park outside the town limits, luckily that was only about 200 meters away just behind the corner.
Day 2 to 7:
The island has many interesting things to visit, but is mostly a natural island of dunes, perfect for biking or hiking, many beaches are great for some leisure time in the summer but winds can be strong. We visited the marine life museum with seal rescue center, they also have some resident seals that due to medical conditions can't live in the wild, the best thing to view is feeding time, the seals know exactly when they get fed and are very playful during this time. The lighthouse at the Northern tip of the island is probably the key landmark of the whole island, it was built in 1863 to guide ships in the area, it was heavily damaged during World War 2 and therefore useless by the end of the war, the Dutch decided to leave the original tower intact and build a concrete encasement around the tower as a shell to protect the actual tower, they built a new top with observation post and placed it on top of the new double structure in 1948. We climbed up to the walkway of the lighthouse and had a breathtaking view over the island. In the evening I returned to get some good shots with the drone as well. Texel is home to its own breed of sheep, known as Texel sheep, many farmers breed them here and a very nice farm near Den Burg is actually open to visitors, they let you walk around their farm where many sheep and especially little newborn lambs are running free, you can go inside the pens and pet them all, there are other animals like rabbits, chickens, ducks and pigs as well, a shop and cafe make sure you can spend several hours here between the cute farm animals. The islands capital Den Burg is located in the Southern center and is perfectly adapted to be safe from cars as most of the town is off limits for cars, the small size of the town makes it easy as well as you don't need to walk far to get your groceries etc. near the edge of town. Cars are to park outside the town on designated parking areas where you can always find a spot. The local cemetry can be of interest as it houses a section dedicated to World War 2 for Great Britain, the Commonwealth War Graves. At the Southern tip of the island is a vast nature reserve around the "Mokbaai" with good hiking trails, make sure to pack lunch and drinks for the day so you can spend the most of the day in this natural area, you can even see all the way to Den Helder where the tall lighthouse sits as a landmark over the area. Very near is a very small village with the old church of Den Hoorn, the church tower also acts as a lighthouse with a red light shining from the upper part of the tower as part of the shipping guidance system of the Netherlands. Close to the ferry terminal you can walk right up the coastal defence barrier that protects the small harbour and see the ferries coming in or going out again, you may even see some rare birds or seals on the beach as well. At the Eastern coast near Oosterend is beacon called the 'Ijzeren Zeekaap', a day beacon that guides ships around the island during the day as it is not lit like a lighthouse would be. Very close to the beacon is another memorial to World War 2, a humble memorial made out of a wrecked propeller from a crashed Lancaster bomber. The only larger harbour of the island can be found in Oudeschild on the Eastern coast. This village is small but it is the only place where ships can actually get into a protective harbour and undergo repairs and resupply if needed, it is also home to the fishing fleet and well protected by dikes to prevent flooding in the event of a storm surge.