Texel is the first and largest of the islands belonging to the West Friesian chain in the Wadden Sea. The natural environment consists mainly of beaches, dunes, woods, moorland and polders. It is thus richly diverse and sometimes called Holland in miniature. Furthermore, due to its relatively isolated location, the island has developed its own dialect, traditional clothing and specific customs, some of which are still very much alive today.


The genesis of Texel can be traced back to the ice-age. The majority of the West Friesian islands came into existence after the long glacial periods of the Pleistocene Epoch. The temperature rose and the massive ice sheets melted, causing the sea-level to rise. The seawater subsequently carried huge quantities of sand into the North Sea. Sandbanks were formed along the Dutch coastline as we know it today, and these sandbanks gradually broke the surface of the water. Plants began to take root and the West Friesian islands were born.

However, Texel differs in this aspect from the other West Friesian islands. This island was formed for the most part during the ice-age. Whereas the other West Friesian islands consist primarily of sand and dunes, Texel is partly composed of till. This mixture of clay, boulders and gravel was pushed upwards by ice-caps from Scandinavia during the ice-age (the Saalian, or Wolstonian stage) and remained behind when the ice-age receded.

De Hoge Berg (The High Mountain -15.3 metres) offers visible evidence of this fact. Many boulders can be found on the ground in and around the ‘mountain’. This oldest part of Texel which is situated roughly between Den Hoorn, Den Burg, De Waal and Oosterend is called the ‘old country’.

Human intervention

Nature is not the only force responsible for the difference between the ground composition and landscape of Texel and those of other West Friesian islands. The activities of generations of inhabitants have also made their mark. For instance, eroding sand dunes have been stabilized by planting marram grass and pine woods.

In addition to the dykes and polders there are also the garden walls, or ‘tuunwoallen’, as the Texel people call them. These meadow enclosures, constructed from turf sods, are a striking feature of the landscape and are unique in the Netherlands. Other conspicuous elements are the dome-shaped farmhouses and the so-called ‘skiipeboete’, or thatched semi-barns, which almost always have the flat side facing east, enabling the farmer to store the hay out the predominantly westerly wind.

Natural beauty

De Slufter and De Muy are the most well known of the diversified nature reserves on Texel. Both were formed as a result of the sea breaking through the dunes in mid-19th century.

De Slufter is still open to the sea and saltwater penetrates deep into the area twice a day along a network of creeks. During storms the entire area is flooded. De Slufter is therefore covered with saltwater plants, like sea lavender, which gives the whole area a lilac hue in July and August.

The dune collapse at De Muy was repaired at the end of the 19th century. Spoonbills and grey herons breed in and around the dune lake formed at the time of the collapse, and other birds have also made this area their nesting ground. That is why the nature reserve is only accessible from 1 September to 1 March.

Texel has several other areas of natural beauty. These are highly popular with the many birds which settle on the island each year - more than 300 different species. Various guided excursions are arranged by the Forestry Commission and the Nature Reserves Preservation Association.


The seven villages on the island are all part of the municipality of Texel (in the province of North Holland). The island covers an area of approximately 16,000 hectares, and is about 25 km long and 8 km wide. In addition to tourism, agriculture is the main source of income.

Roughly half the land in Texel is taken up by agricultural activities. The largest part is used for grazing livestock - mostly sheep with diary cattle. The people of Texel have been rearing sheep ever since the 16th century, and the result of many years of crossbreeding is the now famous Texel sheep, also known as Texelaar. They are hardy and stay outdoors throughout the winter.

Important crops on the island are potatoes, sugarbeet and various cereals. Bulb cultivation is also well established. The daffodil has been grown there since 1900, and in the spring narcissi, tulips, hyacinths, crocuses and lilies give the island an extra colourful dimension.

In contrast to the other West Friesian islands, fishing is an important means of support. Texel is the only island with its own fishing fleet, which, incidentally, is one of the most modern in the Netherlands.


Since the beginning of this century, leisure and tourism have formed an increasing source of income. Tourism was approached with extreme caution in the beginning, with the opening of the first seaside hotel - the Prinses Juliana - in 1908. However, since the fifties the industry has grown strongly. In an attempt to retain a balance between nature and leisure, a limit is imposed on the number of tourist beds. This helps to preserve the pleasant atmosphere on the island, even during the high season.

Texel has a great deal to offer for those who prefer an active holiday. In addition to the 120 kilometres of cycle paths, there are also many walkways and footpaths. There is a special route for people who are blind and partially sighted, with information at various points in braille. Watersports like sea canoeing, wind-surfing and yachting are extremely popular. Every year the island hosts the biggest catamaran race in the world.

There are a number of visitor attractions on the island. These include an Agricultural and Carriage museum; the Oudheidkamer (Antiquities’ room), accommodated in a house dating from 1599; and the Maritime and Beachcomber Museum. However, the most famous is EcoMare. This environmental centre near De Koog is located on the edge of a 70 ha dune park. The overall aim is to inform the public as fully and effectively as possible on the nature and environment of the Wadden tidal marsh region and the North Sea. It comprises an information desk, three exhibition halls with dioramas alternated with a video corner, a multi-screen slide presentation, and a 23 metre long sea aquarium. There are also seal and bird rehabilitation facilities and a field study centre.

For further information contact:

VVV Texel
The Netherlands
Tel: 0222-314741
Fax: 0222-310054

Dr Jan Kuiper
Ruyslaan 92
The Netherlands
Tel: 0222-317741
Fax: 0222-317744