Walking to the Islands

When the tide recedes on Germany’s North Sea coast, it exposes the mudflats connecting the mainland to the East Frisian Islands, and that’s when hikers and nature-lovers make their way on foot to islands such as Baltrum and Norderney. This involves wallowing in mud or wading knee-deep in seawater, but it’s one of the most popular outdoor activities in this flat, mountainless region. The Wadden Sea in the Netherlands and Germany became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2009.

Wattwanderungen, as such trekking through the Wadden Sea National Park is called, can be dangerous. The tide follows channels that will cut you off from the mainland unless you have a guide who knows the tide times and routes. Tourist offices in Jever and Emden can provide details of state-approved guides, including Martin Rieken and Johann Behrends.

Coastal tours cost from €12 to €23 per person, which doesn't include the cost of taking a ferry back to the mainland. Necessary gear includes shorts or short trousers and possibly socks or trainers that you don't mind getting seriously muddy (although some people prefer going barefoot). In winter, wet-weather footwear and very warm gear is necessary.