The diversity of the Wadden Sea landscape on the North Sea coast makes it a unique habitat for countless species of plants and wildlife. This UNESCO World Natural Heritage site covers an area of around 10,000 square kilometres and includes the three Wadden Sea National Parks of Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and Hamburg, plus the Wadden Sea conservation area in the Netherlands.
Mussel beds, dense sea grass meadows and soft mudflats provide food for many animals. Flowering salt marshes in the transitional zone along the dykes and on the islands and Hallig islets give way to white sandy beaches and dunes. For millions of migratory birds, the Wadden Sea is an essential stopover or resting place. Geologically, it is a very young area, only 10,000 years old, and is constantly being re-shaped by the winds and tides. High and low tide alternate every six hours, transforming the landscape as if by magic. You can witness this at any time of year! The changing water levels make it possible to walk right out onto the mudflats and across to the islands that lie just off the coast. On a walk through the mudflats, ideally with an experienced guide, you can feel the interaction of wind, water and waves, and watch huge flocks of birds demonstrating their aerial prowess. In the distance, you can sometimes even watch seals sunning themselves on a sandbank.
Wadden Sea visitor centre in Wilhelmshaven: April to October open daily, November to March every day except Mondays, http://www.wattenmeerhaus.de
Wadden Sea visitor centre in Cuxhaven: April to October open daily, November to March every day except Saturdays, www.wattbz.cuxhaven.de
Other information centres: http://www.waddensea-worldheritage.org/de/wattenmeer-erleben/infozentren
The Wadden Sea is part of the 'Natural wonders and proud cities' UNESCO route. Other stops on the route are:
UNESCO World Heritage sites: