The Dutch Wadden islands are like magnets, I’m drawn to them like the sea to the moon. With some good sunny days ahead, I book a lastminute accommodation, pack my bags and travel up north. I wind up in Kollum, a 25 kilometer away from Leeuwarden, capital of Friesland.
A Frisian town Called Kollum
Kollum is surprisingly big. I was expecting a hamlet, with only a few houses and nothing to do, but actually the town has everything you need. Besides the local bakery selling the authentic Frisian oranjekoek and suikerbrood, there are a couple of places to have lunch or dinner, supermarkets, boutique shops and other facilities. I rent my bike at the bicycle shop. It surprises me that there are mostly e-bikes for sale and that many locals are e-bike owners. When I stop a moment to think about it, it makes sense. Although the Frisia province is flat (even more than other parts of the Netherlands) the distance to bigger cities is larger and due to the fact that the region mostly consists of polders and a strong wind comes from the North Sea which envelopes the province on two sides. With an e-bike all those obstacles are gone. For me a hybrid city bike is good enough for the time being.
Ameland or Schiermonnikoog?
The next day I wake up full of mosquito bites. The sun is clearly still hesitating whether or not it should come out today. It is definitely a few degrees colder than in The Hague. The goal of the day is to visit Schiermonnikoog. Last night I had to cut a knot: Schiermonnikoog or Ameland. Both Wadden islands are beautiful, but I have the feeling the beaches on Schiermonnikoog are wider and longer. Besides, the cycling distance to the ferry in Lauwersoog is slightly shorter than to the ferry in Holwerd.
Anyway, I’m running very late. The ferry from Lauwersoog to Schiermonnikoog will depart in 1 hour, the distance to cover is about 25 kilometers, but as I love following the knooppunt system, I will definitely make a bit of a detour. My legs can’t keep up. I’m cycling 20 kilometers per hour and the wind has decided to work against me. After having followed what the Frisian call a touristic cycle path along a dike full of Frisian? horses, I cross a dike and are welcomed by a beautiful lake and presalsky horses grazing in the meadows. No time to make pictures though. The next place I pass through is a town that ends with ‘horn’. In the long weekend I’ve stayed in Friesland I kept calling it Matterhorn and at the end I’ve forgotten what the real name is. This town is so picturesque that I can’t help it and while I’m cycling take a few snaps. Hair in the wind, red face, not a really flattering picture, but well, I do everything to share my experience with you 😉
This place has a camping/ bungalow park, a small port for recreational boats and quite a few good lunch and dinner options on fantastic locations near the water. Just 5 minutes before the ferry sails off I reach Lauwersoog.
Turns out taking your bike on the ferry is more expensive than renting one on the island, but I’m quite proud I’ve cycled here. Aparently, Schiermonnikoog has 3 bike rental shops and one is located right next to the dock.
Cycling in Schiermonnikoog is really relaxing and getting lost is almost impossible, you can pick up a map of the island in the village’s tourist office and easily follow the cycle paths through the dunes. If you’re a bird watcher, pick up the free map with all birds and the locations where you can spot them. A stop at the beach is a real must when you’re on Schiermonnikoog or one of the other Wadden islands. Best is not to take the exit at beach restaurant de Marlijn, but the next one, with the woodchip road.
From there a beautiful cycle path leads through the kwelder, the marshland where grazing cows and sheep block the road seemingly unaware of your presence there.
My favourite part was discovering this purple flower, which is the flower of the sea vegetable lamsoor, in English lam’s ear or sea lavender.
A few hours on the island are enough to get a good feel of the atmosphere. The beaches invite to stay a full day or even to stay overnight.
Need some help organising your trip to Friesland or your cycle tour Schiermonnikoog or other Dutch Wadden island? Just write an email to travel(@)veritasvisit.nl or leave a comment.