Wildlife Reserve in Texel

Image by Ysbrand Cosijn Shutterstock

Initially created as a refuge for sick seals retrieved from the Waddenzee, Ecomare has expanded into an impressive nature centre devoted to the preservation and understanding of Texel's wildlife. It has displays on Texel's development since the last ice age and the islanders' interaction with the sea, as well as large aquariums filled with fish from the Waddenzee and the North Sea (including sharks); outside there are marked nature trails. The highlight is the zeehonden ('sea dogs', ie seals) themselves.

Their playful water ballet will delight even the most jaded visitor. Try to catch feeding time at 11.30am or 3.30pm. Feeding of rescued porpoises takes place at 10.30am and 1.30pm; fish feeding is at 2.30pm. Rescued birds are the other main tenants. Look out for its six skeletons of whales stranded in the Waddenzee, including a 15m-long sperm-whale carcass complete with 52 fearsome teeth.