What is an intertidal tour

The Waddensea is one of the final places in the Netherlands where nature is relatively wild. It has unique natural and scenic values and is therefore a very popular place for recreational activities. One of the best ways to experience the uniqueness of the Waddensea is to participate in an intertidal guided tour. It is a great way to get away from your normal busy lifestyle and do/see something completely different.

The Waddensea is a very shallow sea and consists of various sand- and mudflats crossed by channels. As a result of tidal movement (effects of gravity in the earth-moon-sun system) these sandflats are submerged at high tides, but become exposed around low tides. Both low tides and high tides occur two times each day. Consequently an intertidal tour can only be carried out at low tide otherwise the channels will become to deep to cross. It is not possible to walk to all islands and/or sandflats in the Dutch Waddensea, but tours that Wadloopcentrum Fryslân can offer include tours to the islands of Ameland, Schiermonnikoog or Terschelling, educational tours to different sandflats (Engelsmanplaat, Pinkegat, Eilanderbult, Wierbalg and Texel) and tours combining an intertidal guided tour with a scenic boattrip on the Dutch Waddensea (Simonszand or Rottumeroog). For a full description of the different tours on offer please refer to the ´Tours´ section provided on this website.

During most of our tours we will first walk through salt marshes which have been created by the land reclamation works. These reclamation works are created to minimise the flow velocity of the sea water during high tide to prevent coastal erosion. As a result of this low flow velocity fine sand and mud particles will sink to the bottom and a mud layer will build up in between the reclamation works. In the beginning of most tours we will pass these reclamation works, so we will have to walk through this soft layer of mud, generally making this the hardest part of the tour. Once we have passed these reclamation works the sea bottom will become sandier and firmer (currents are much stronger in this area during high tide, hence fine particles will not sink to the bottom). During the outgoing tide (ebb) we can observe how the seawater is transported out of the Waddensea by various small meandering channels (in Dutch known as ´prielen´) converging into bigger channels and finally leaving the Waddensea through the sea entrances between the islands. Seen from above these meandering channels look like a finely nerved leaf. During an intertidal guided tour we will have to wade through these ´prielen´ to reach the islands and or sandflats. The depth of these ´prielen´ is very dependant on tidal and weather conditions, but is generally waste deep.

The dynamic landscape of the Waddensea provides habitat for an great variety of plants and animals. Species we will certainly encounter during a tour include sea weeds, shell banks (mussels, cockles and oysters), various species of sea birds, crabs, worms, shrimps and small fish. If you want to see seals, then your best choice would be to join a tour to either Simonszand or Rottumeroog, but you may also see them on other tours (e.g. Pinkegat, Engelsmanplaat). Our guides are happy to explain about these special sea creatures especially during one of the educational tours.

Joining an intertidal guided tour becomes much more pleasant if you are well prepared and if you choose a tour in accordance with your level of fitness. Please make yourself familiar with the ‘Clothing, gear and rules’ information provided on this website and read the full description of the various tours provided in the ´Tours´ section.

Enjoy your unique Dutch experience!