The effect of the tide’s ebb and flow has created a very special coastal landscape that stretches from the Netherlands, along the coasts of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) and Schleswig-Holstein, all the way to Denmark: the Wadden Sea.
As the tides change, a wetland area measuring 10,000 km² is revealed twice a day. The unique tidal flats, which in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) include the East Frisian coast and islands, the Jade Estuary and the North Sea coast of Cuxland, was declared the Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) Wadden Sea National Park in 1986. In 1993, the national park was added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and has retained this protective status ever since. The area received further recognition from UNESCO in 2009, being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An extensive system of large tidal flows and small tidal inlets runs across large tidal flats, interspersed with mussel beds and sea grass meadows. In the dyke forelands, islands and Hallig islands, salt flats alternate with white beaches and dunes. This varied landscape is what makes the Wadden Sea such a unique habitat for more than 10,000 species of animal and plant life. For millions of migrating birds, the Wadden Sea is an essential stopover and resting place. It is when the sea retreats that you can really see the variety of species here. A mud walk with the national park rangers is the best way to discover the sand worms, cockles, shore crabs and mud snails.
A visit to the National Park Seal Sanctuary in Norden-Norddeich is ideal for getting to know some of the Wadden Sea’s larger inhabitants.
A cycle trip along the dykes provides an outstanding view across the Wadden Sea. A range of signposted cycle paths run along the coast and on the East Frisian Islands.
Whether you are on foot or on a bike, your tour of discovery along the Wadden Sea should always start at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Wadden Sea visitor centre in Wilhelmshaven, which provides a fascinating insight into this very special habitat.