Cute young seal in basin. Resting and warming in the sun on the edge of the pool. Texel. Wadden island. Ecomare. The Netherlands.; Shutterstock ID 114575428; Your name (First / Last): Emma Sparks; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: Best in Europe POI updates

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Top choice in Texel

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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Texel attractions

1. Texel Dunes National Park

0.01 MILES

The patchwork of dune-scape running along the western coast of the island is a prime reason for visiting Texel. Salt fens and heath alternate with velvety…

2. Paal 17

0.45 MILES

Texel's party beach, 3km south of De Koog, has lots of day- and night-time activities, including wind-surfing and kite-surfing.

3. Paal 19

1.17 MILES

The emphasis at this beach immediately west of De Koog is on lounging with good food and drink while watching kite-surfers in action.

4. De Kroon van Texel

1.48 MILES

Wineries across the Netherlands are few, so it's especially worth dropping in to De Kroon, a small but international medal-winning estate. One-hour tours …

5. Kaasboerderijk Wezenspyk

3.56 MILES

This small dairy between Den Hoorn and Den Burg is a terrific place to taste and buy rounds produced from the local cows, sheep and goats. A glass viewing…

6. Texelse Bierbrouwerij

4.14 MILES

See beer being made at the island's brewery, housed in a former dairy, on an informative 45-minute guided tour (in English and Dutch). Tour prices include…

7. De Zelfpluktuin

4.19 MILES

At this 3-hectare farm's orchards and fields, you can pick your own fruit (eg apples, strawberries, blueberries and grapes), vegetables (such as capsicums…

8. Kaap Skil Museum Van Jutters & Zeelui

5.23 MILES

A stunning slatted-timber-encased reception building made from recycled materials frames the superb Maritime and Beachcombers Museum. Its extraordinary…