Hallig islands - A man-made Warft hill on one of the Hallig islands
Hallig islands - A man-made Warft hill on one of the Hallig islands ©DZT/Panorama-Fotografie Vernunft, Olaf
Tourismusbüro der Biosphäre Halligen

Hanswarft 1
25859 Hallig Hooge

Phone +49 (0)4849 9100
info@halligen.de

Hallig islands: where land and sea become one

The flat, undyked Hallig islands situated in the Wadden Sea are the perfect place to experience life on the coastal mudflats and the constant ebb and flow of the tides. Up to thirty times a year the islands are completely submerged by water – a perfectly normal occurrence for residents, a source of fascination for visitors.

The houses are built on protective man-made hills, known as Warften. When the water recedes after a couple of hours, life returns to normal.

These sparsely populated islands were formed by storm tides hundreds of years ago. Today they serve as a natural breakwater, protecting the coastline on the mainland. In 2001 the inhabitants of the five larger Hallig islands (Gröde, Hooge, Langeness, Nordstrandischmoor and Oland) voluntarily opted to join the existing Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea biosphere reserve as a development zone in order to farm more sustainably and to live in harmony with nature.

People and nature in perfect harmony

The coastal wetlands and salt marshes are home to some 250 species of animal that you won’t find anywhere else on earth. Every spring and every autumn, millions of migratory birds stop at the Wadden Sea as they journey between their breeding grounds in Siberia, Greenland and Canada and their winter habitat in the south. When the tide is out, the sea bed provides them with plentiful food for their long trip.

Between the coast and the Hallig islands

Here, the journey is the destination. If you travel to the Hallig islands by boat, you might see seal colonies, complete with seal pups, or learn from a fishermen what delicious offerings are to be found in the sea.

When the tide is out on the mudflats, you can walk across the sea bed, but only in the company of one of the expert guides, who’ll tell you all about the mudflat worms, the molluscs and the marine life in the tidal channels. You might even find some amber, a highly sought-after material used in traditional regional jewellery.

Magical traditions and customs

Each season brings a new spectacle to the Hallig islands. At the end of February traditional bonfires known as biike are lit to drive out the winter. Spring sees the arrival of the migratory birds and the Brent Goose Festival. Whether visiting for the day or staying overnight, guests are always welcome to join in with the local customs such as Frisian bowling or the lock festival. You can also admire the traditional costumes that have been making a reappearance on celebratory occasions since the mid-90s. In summer the salt marshes are in bloom and you can explore the Wadden Sea on foot. In autumn, a strong breeze blows across the mudflats, and lovingly maintained museums and exhibitions offer shelter from the wind and the elements. And in winter? The cold months are a time of idyllic peace and quiet with only the occasional roar of the sea to be heard.

Highlights

  • Living history: Captain Tadsen’s House on Ketelswarf hill on Langeness island bears the curved gable typical of the islands, and inside there are beautiful murals, ceiling frescos and over 1,600 Dutch wall tiles
  • Nature discovery on Hooge island: Man & mudflat discovery centre, tidal aquarium, historical Frisian house, restaurant and storm floods cinema
  • Creative contemplation: Photo workshops held in the islands’ only four-star hotel, Anker’s Hörn on Langeness
  • Painting on the Hallig islands: Watercolour courses on Hooge – for beginners, advanced students or groups

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