East Frisian Islands
The area is located within the Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park.
While many of the inhabitants still speak Plattdeutsch (low German) at home and among other people from the region, people in the tourist industry will all have a firm grasp of standard German, though sometimes with a slight "Missingsch" (northern accented standard German) tinge to it, as well as the "dry" humor, that is often associated with it. As this region carters primarily to Germans don't expect to much in the way of foreign languages, although you should get by reasonably with Dutch (very similar to Plattdeutsch) as well as English (widely taught in schools)
Most islands have one ferry-port that connects them at least once daily to the mainland. Because of the tides departure times may be uncomfortable especially when coming from far away. As most of the islands are car-free there are parking lots close to the ferry for those arriving via automobile.
As shown in the map at the top of the page, each island has one harbor that primarily connects it to the mainland. You can take a boat from Eemshaven (Netherlands) or Emden to Borkum, from Norddeich (Mole) (Served by regular Intercity trains under this precise name) to Juist and Norderney, from Neßmersiel to Baltrum, from Bensersiel to Langeoog, from Neuharlingersiel to Spiekeroog and from Carolinensiel to Wangerooge. There are sometimes connections from/to other harbors but those are mostly for day trippers visiting another island than the one they are staying at. That means in essence that while "island hopping" is technically possible, it requires a bit of effort on your part (boat tickets, short term accommodation etc.) and isn't all that common.
Be sure to research the departure time of your boat in advance, as they can only sail during high tide which changes day to day and also year to year.
Deutsche Bahn offers some through tickets including ferry service or at least the bus up to the ferry. As you cannot use a car on most of the islands anyway this might be the most practical and - in some cases - the cheapest option. The boat and bus on the last leg of the trip are usually scheduled to wait for each other in case of delays.
As the ports connecting the islands to the mainland are - with the exception of Emden and Norddeich (Mole) - only served by regional trains, you will need a change of train onto a regional train for the last leg in most cases. Sometimes you will even have to take a bus for the last few kilometers to the boat.
There are guided tours to some of the islands that take you there through the mudflats that are exposed as the sea recedes during low tide. Only do this with a licensed guide in your group, as it can be very dangerous (not to mention illegal) to go alone because the flood has trapped more than one hiker and fog is an ever-present danger to lose your orientation.
While most of the islands do have a spot where small planes can land and most even have scheduled flights to Emden and other nearby spots on the mainland, flying is a rather uncommon and expensive way to get to any of these islands. Furthermore, you won't save all that much time compared to the boat, as the thing that most determines time of arrival is when transportation is scheduled and not its speed
There are numerous ferry connections between the islands and from individual islands to the mainland as well as to Helgoland. These are mostly intended for day trippers, but if you book the accommodation in advance "island-hopping" is doable though uncommon.
Most islands are small enough (and apart from dunes very flat) to make walking a viable alternative for the untrained as well as marathon runners, especially since in some of the island-villages this is your only option, as both bicycle and car are forbidden.
Outside of the villages proper this is a terrific way of seeing the islands and the flat terrain aids a lot in this, however keep in mind that it can get very windy and the predominately westerly winds rarely change direction, especially if you had the wind in your back on the way to a destination, which might make the way back strenuous and unpleasant.
Some of the islands have small (often narrow-gauge) railways mostly connecting the main settlement with the harbor. Often the use of these is included in either the ferry-fare or the Kurtaxe (hotel surcharge in most sea-baths in Germany)
Apart from Norderney and Borkum, cars are not allowed on any of the islands.
- Old lighthouse (Alter Leuchtturm), Zedeliusstraße 3, Wangerooge, ☎ +49 4469 8324.
- Water tower (Wasserturm), Langeoog.
- Old customs house (Altes Zollhaus), Baltrum. Museum
- Selden Rüst Windwmill (Inselwindmühle), Marienstraße 24, Norderney. Restaurant
- Kurhaus, Strandpromenade 1, Juist.
- Horse drawn rail ride (Museums-Pferdebahn), Spiekeroog.
- Watch the wildlife (birds and aquatic mammals stand out in particular).
- Hike through the Watt (the area of seafloor that is periodically left dry by the tides). CAUTION: only do this with a licensed guide: going on your own can be both dangerous and illegal and every year people drown because they were not cautious enough in the Watt.
- Relax in the quiet nature.
- Swim in the North Sea (It's a bit cold, but notably warmer than most of the US's share of the pacific)
- Strandhalle, Höhenpromenade 5, Langeoog, ☎ +49 4972 99 07 76. Panorama-Restaurant
- Meeresfrüchtchen, Noorderpad 3, Spiekeroog. Fischbistro
- Pizza Loog, Westerloog 6 Spiekeroog.
- Old Laramie (Café im Westend).
- Dönerbude in der Post, Postagentur am Süderloog 49, Spiekeroog.
- Fischrestaurant Capitänshaus, Noorderloog 11, Spiekeroog.
- Historisches Altes Inselhaus, Süderloog 5, Spiekeroog.
- Spiekerooger Leidenschaft, Noorderpad 6 , Spiekeroog-.
- Hotel zur Linde, Noorderloog 5, Spiekeroog. Restaurant & Bar in Hotel
While this is by no means a party destination, there are places where you can have a quiet beer or other alcoholic beverages.
A word concerning water: While the water is perfectly save to drink and there is usually enough for everybody, you should economize, as most islands are not connected to the mainland water grid and thus draw from a "bubble" of fresh groundwater that "swims" atop the salty water and is only replenished through rainfall. If too much fresh water is drawn, the salty water starts mixing in, making the water unusable for years and probably decades to come. So far this hasn't happened, and local authorities are sure to intervene if the situation becomes dire, but your cooperation can go a long way in letting it never come to that. On some islands there are salt water showers and cleaning devices at or near the beach. Be sure to use them if your are very sandy to save fresh water.
When inquiring about the going rate for a room, do ask whether prices include Kurtaxe, the German sea-bath surcharge
- Jugendherberge Borkum "Am Wattenmeer", Reedestr. 231, 26757 Borkum, ☎ +49 49 22 579, fax: +49 49 22 71 24, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Jugendherberge Juist, Loogster Pad 20, 26571 Juist / Nordsee, ☎ +49 4935 92910, fax: +49 4935 8294, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hotel Dünenschlösschen, Haus Nr. 48, 26579 Nordseebad Baltrum, ☎ +49 49 39 9 12 30, fax: +49 49 39 91 23 13, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Hotel Pension Lottmann, Westdorf 62, 26579 Baltrum, ☎ +49 49 39 91 040 00, fax: +49 49 39 91 040 50, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hotel Strandburg, Haus Nr. 139, 26579 Baltrum, ☎ +49 49 39 262, fax: +49 49 39 446, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Sunburn and sun protection is a concern even and somewhat especially in windy or cold-ish weather, as the sun's UV rays have a lot of power even if you don't feel the heat. Misjudging that on your first day may make the rest of your stay miserable.
- The day trip to Heligoland is probably the most popular excursion, other than that there are few options for onward travel that don't boil down to going back to the mainland