Many people know about the artificial “Palm” and “World” islands on the coast of Dubai. Recently, such islands have been constructed in the Netherlands, but not for houses/shops/casinos, but for nature. It is possible to visit one Marker Wadden island and enjoy nature, while the others are for nature only.
Short history about the Marker Wadden
The “Markermeer” is a large lake in the Netherlands, but it was historically part of the “Zuiderzee” an inland sea. The creation of a large dyke in 1932 turned the sea into a freshwater lake, and the construction of another dyke in 1976 resulted in the Markermeer.
To boost the ecological functioning of the Markermeer, Natuurmonumenten with many partners developed the idea to create the Marker Wadden using sediment from the bottom of the lake. The Marker Wadden is an archipelago that is designed to create new wetlands for biodiversity and to boost water clarity of the Markermeer by creating low-dynamic areas.
How to get there?
It is possible to sail to the Marker Wadden with you own boat, however we did not have one. We travelled with the ferry “Abel Tasman” that sails there regularly. The boat ride in itself was a great experience, because the Abel Tasman is a very old sailing ship and the captain was very funny. From the boat, we even saw two people kayaking to the Marker Wadden, but you have to be experienced to be able to make the trip, as it is very far and even with a bit of wind the waves can be high.
You arrive in a small marina where a tiny settlement has been build. Here you see many different ships, from large boats to small ones. In this settlement, there are multiple houses for rent and there is a restaurant. There is a group accommodation and a small research centre as well. If you want, you can book a guided tour where they give a lot of information about the construction of the island and the many bird and plant species you can encounter.
Hiking on Marker Wadden
We hiked a 6-km long route on the island that has been constructed in 2016. We started our hike through the “dunes” to a lookout point. You cannot miss the lookout, as it is the futuristic looking building. From here, you have a great view over the newly constructed islands. You see open water with many wading birds, fields of reed, cattail and marsh fleawort.
After spotting many birds, we continued our walk on sand trails, but also on wooden boardwalks. On the island, they constructed various lookout points, where you can observe birds and other wildlife. One is very special, because you can look at underwater nature. We saw a couple of fish and looked at a colony of Common terns and Black-headed gulls. These birds make a lot of noise, and especially the gulls are territorial. At some point, a bird of prey flew over the island and thousands birds chased it away. We actually felt sorry for the bird.
It was a beautiful and very easy hike, as the island is entirely flat! The island is very quiet, except for the birds. This really makes the hike special. We saw many cool birds and even spotted two flamingos (probably got lost, as they normally do not stay in the Netherlands). The idea that you walk on land that was water just a couple of years ago, and now has been transformed into a bird paradise is truly amazing.
Can’t you get enough from the Netherlands and are you curious about a typical Dutch meal? Try out our delicious Endive stamppot (mashpot) recipe!