A leading destination in the sea
Four of the five Dutch Wadden Islands (from west to east: Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog) are part of the province of Friesland. Of these islands Ameland is the one most easily accessible from the mainland, definitely from the Frisian capital Leeuwarden, and by far the most versatile. It is a very suitable holiday destination for families with children.
Navigating through UNESCO World Heritage
The ferryboats Sier and Oerd of shipping company Wagenborg depart from Holwerd. The passage (taking your bicycle, car or motorcycle along with you are an option) takes around 45 minutes. Wagenborg’s watertaxi is another possibility. In 20 minutes you’ll be on the other side.
The basic timetable of the ferry to Ameland provides seven round trips between Holwerd and Ameland per day. So: seven departures from Ameland and seven from Holwerd. In the summer and for special events the number of departures is increased. The exact timetable (including extra departures) can be found on the website of Wagenborg’s Passagiersdiensten: www.wpd.nl/ameland/
Ameland is popular, also with day trippers. Per year, Wagenborg transports over 1,300,000 passengers from the Netherlands and abroad to and from the island. Unfortunately the ferry link is increasingly subject to delay. The Waddenzee is a dynamic natural reserve. The navigation channel is constantly changing. An increasing amount of sand is being flushed into the channel, which not only has made it more narrow and shallow, but also longer. Since 1993, the channel has grown 10% in length. The ferry cannot navigate at full throttle in shallow water. Besides that, the ships need to slow down in order to pass each other safely. Combined with the water level and weather circumstances, this often causes delay, which is a factor to be taken into account. Since 2005, the dredging of the channel has increased in frequency from several times a month to 365 days a year. This is done with great care, for the Waddenzee is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Fascinating all year long
Ameland is an interesting holiday destination for all seasons. One of the best ways to get to know Ameland is by bike. It is actually THE way to discover the island’s distinctive characteristics. For instance, you can make a magnificent cycling tour through the dunes with several opportunities to dismount, for example to take a walk on the beach or to visit one of the four convivial beach pavilions. Or you can cycle along the Waddenzee dike, which has bicycle paths on both sides: one along the water and one along the land. On the waterside, there is a wonderful view over the Waddenzee, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2009. At low tide, when 90% of the area has fallen dry, it is a unique experience to be accompanied by thousands of oystercatchers and seagulls. On the other side, you can enjoy the view over the island with its polders, forests and villages.
Places of interest and special events
There are four villages on Ameland: Buren, Nes, Ballum and Hollum. In these villages you can sometimes still get the feel of Ameland’s illustrious past. A past characterised by the whaling trade and independance. These days, the villages are full of friendly terraces and shops and there are sports and cultural events all year round. This includes all sorts of walking, running and cycling events in the spring and fall. A famous cultural event takes place every November: de Kunstmaand (Art Month).
Ameland also houses several museums. For example, the Natuurcentrum (Nature Centre), with all there is to know about the natural habitat on the island or Reddingsmuseum Abraham Fock, which is focused on rescue operations at sea. The museum is also the home of the horses that pull the lifeboat into the seawater about 10 times a year, this to show the tourists how rescue operations were carried out in the olden days.
Of course you can take your own bicycle with you to the island, but it is also quite easy to rent one. There are bike rental agencies in all four villages. You can rent a bike with gears (or not) or you can opt for a tandem. If you prefer an electric bike, then it’s advisable to make a reservation. All addresses are to be found on the website of VVV Ameland (the tourist agency): www.vvvameland.nl. If you want take your car along to the island, a reservation with Rederij Wagenborg Passagiersdiensten is obligatory.