Postcards from the island of Schiermonnikoog
Greetings from Schiermonnikoog, the unpronounceable Dutch Frisian island, a sort of “Dutch Hamptons”.
Literally its name can be translated into “Grey Monk Island” . The island’s first known inhabitants were the monks of Klaarkamp Abbey, a Cistercian monastery near Rinsumageest, on the mainland. “Monnik” means “monk”, “schier” is an archaic word meaning “grey”, referring to the colour of the monks’ habits, and “oog” translates as “island”.
A National Park of breathtaking natural beauty, the island, 16 Km long and 4 Km wide, can only be reached on foot or by bike taking a ferry from the mainland. Only vehicles with a special permit are allowed to travel to the island making it a safe and green place to spend a relaxing holiday.
Although there are less than 1000 people living permanently on Schiermonnikoog, during holiday season up 4000 visitors flock to the island daily.
Fun fact: thanks to the tidal current, the prevailing winds, and North Sea storms, the island is slowly moving to the south and the east. In the year 1250, it lays roughly 2 km to the north of its present position, and it then had a significantly different shape. I have been visiting the island since 1995 and I have experienced first hand its metamorphosis including formation of new dunes, lakes or beaches turning into fields.
This is the perfect destination for families, nature lovers, bird watchers, hikers, and those who love to spend their day outdoors.
If you chose to spend a few days on the island, there are many vacation rentals, B&Bs, Inns, hotels to choose from. There aren’t any true luxury places to stay. The island offers a vary practical and essential approach to luxury. Think “bring your own bedlinen or rent them at extra cost” type of service. If you are passionate about food, you may find it hard to find a restaurant to satisfy your demanding palate, although Graaf Bernstorff cooks a very decent steak with French fries and a very acceptable apple pie for an afternoon tea stopover.
Days are spent biking around the island along its kilometres-long bike routes, hiking in the forests, walking or flying kites on the beach and horse riding.
Enjoy a few photos taken during our last visit in May. Once on Schier, its friendly name, you will want to return again and again.
For places to stay:
Visit the Office of Tourism of the Island of Schiermonnikoog: https://www.vvvschiermonnikoog.nl
There is a varied selection of self-catering apartments, cottages, inns, B&Bs, campings and hotels. Book well in advance as the island offers just 5500 beds which get booked up a year in advance in peak season.
We stayed at Strandresort Schier luxury apartments: https://www.strandresortschier.nl/. The resort offers a heated pool, saunas and the option of a luxury breakfast delivered to your apartment. WiFi in the apartment was not strong enough for me to work however there is a table in the lobby with a stronger signal. The absence of a closet to hang my clothes was slightly inconvenient as I like to unpack and settle as soon as I arrive at my destination. The resort is however brand new, clean and centrally located so you can reach the centre of the village or the beaches in no time.
For places to eat:
We recommend the restaurant at the Hotel Graaf Bernstorff, probably the best restaurant on the island. Great also for apple pies and vanilla ice cream in the afternoon.
For a gin and tonic at sunset head to the beach restaurant De Marlijn.
How to get there:
You will need to drive to Lauwersoog and leave your car at the car park terminal.
A ferry service provided by the company Wagenborg runs several times a day to the island and back. Only pedestrians and bicycles are allowed on the boat. The trip by ferry lasts approximately 45 minutes, depending on the tides.
Ferry tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket desk at the terminal.
For the ferry timetable visit here: http://www.wpd.nl
Once you step off the ferry, you can take a bus or a private taxi to reach your destination.
Once on the island, the easiest way to get around is by bike. There are several bike rental shops in the village centre. For info visit here: https://schiermonnikoog.info/en/cycling.php