Tidal flat walking

Walking where the land meets the sea

No recreational activity is more characteristic for the Wadden Sea region than taking a walk on the flat side. Reveal what is at the bottom of the Wadden Sea by taking a walking tour. Twice a day - in the hours around low tide, the Wadden Sea gets dry and you have the chance to actually get there and experience how it feels like to stroll on the sea bed..Professional guides will take you either on a discovery trip or from the mainland to one of the islands. Such a trip is an excellent opportunity for walkers to enjoy a ramble through the natural elements.

You feel far away from daily life - experiencing a vast space, open horizon, salty wind and clouds of birds. Cockles and worms under your feet cause movement in the water and sand. Prawns flash by your ankles and you can see flatfishes close by in the shallow water. Legions of small crabs, snails, mussels, starfishes and hermit crabs are revealed by the retreating sea. One needs to have a sharp eye to discover how smart they are to hide to survive during hours of dryness.

The phenomenon of the tides

The tide is a universal phenomenon. The movement of a water mass creates a high and low tide. A low tide means the water recedes back into the sea. And that is exactly the time to start the tidal flat walking adventure! Just be aware of the fact that some 6 ½ hours later high tide brings the water back. Go to  'Natural forces' to learn more about dynamics of the tides.

There are 2 basic sorts of trips offered:

  1. A trip from mainland to island or from one island to another: rather a long-distance trip (between 3 and 10 km). Get an impression of such trip when reading The New York Times reporter's experience!
  2. An educational trip: to experience the nature through learning all about the Wadden Sea animals and plants (normally not more than 3 km)

Keep in mind that...

Regional tidal flat walk tour offers:

  • This activity is not entirely without risk. One can sink into the mud at some places. Thus knowledge about the tides and the weather forecast is essential. Due to this hazard and to avoid the disturbance of birds and seals, it is only allowed to walk the flats under guidance in the Dutch part of the Wadden Sea World Heritage area. Also in the German part the professional guidance is highly recommended!
  • There are several routes of varying length and severity.  Regarding the long-distance trips, you do not have to be an athlete but you have to envisage a trip that lasts several hours so you must be in some basic shape.
  • Always bring a jacket or sweater and a cap along with you. There are only few days that it really is hot on the tidal flats, many times there is a fresh wind and the sun radiation can be strong. Enjoy the walk barefoot in the sandy parts of the German Wadden Sea. Elsewhere it is recommended to wear some sort of sneekers to protect your feet.
The entire World Heritage area
Nearly 50 visitor centers offer various tours and trips.

Germany, Schleswig-Holstein
Nationalpark-Wattführer Schleswig-Holstein
Wattführergemeinschaft Dithmarscher Nordseeküste
Naturerlebnisfinder

Germany, Niedersachsen
Nationalpark-Wattführer Niedersachsen

Veranstaltungskalender Nationalpark Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer

The Netherlands
Stichting Wadloopcentrum Pieterburen
Wadloopcentrum Fryslân
Stichting Uithuizer Wad
Fryske Waedrinners
Groninger Wadloop Vereniging "Arenicola"
Dijkstra's Wadlooptochten
Wadgidsengroep Noord Nederland
Vrije Wadlopers